Determining Adaptation of Mono- and Binary Mixtures of Improved Red and Ladino Clovers and Perennial Grasses, Including Perennial Ryegrasses, in the Great Lakes Region
Evaluation of kura, ladino, red clovers, perennial ryegrass, orchardgrass, tall fescue, and festulolium in mono and binary mixtures using rotational grazing at five locations in Michigan. Yield of cool season grasses grown with kura clover, red clover, or white clover was 4.0 tons/acre. The yield of grasses without clovers with 200-lbs/acre nitrogen was 3.5 tons/acre. The yield of clovers was 3.2 tons/acre. These data show the clear advantage of growing grasses and legumes together. Varieties of diploid and tetraploid perennial ryegrass including “barfort” and “mara” showed excellent winter hardiness while “aries” and “quartet” showed significant winter injury.
Evaluate pure stands of improved red clover, ladino clover, and perennial grasses including ryegrasses (diploids and tetraploids).
Evaluate binary mixtures of the above red and ladino clovers with new perennial grasses including ryegrasses (diploids and tetraploids).
Evaluate the pure stands and binary mixtures by grazing and mechanically harvesting.
Subject the experiments to extremely different climatic environments by locating three experiments in at least two differences of degrees latitude to determine species’ response to rainfall, temperature, and snowfall.
Research trials have been established that compare pure stands of improved red, ladino, and kura clover and perennial grasses, including perennial ryegrasses that include both diploids and tetraploids. These trials have been rotationally grazed for one year. A significant difference between winter survival and palatability of different species has been documented. Winter hardiness was related more to the geographic region where the perennial grasses were selected from rather than whether the variety was diploid versus tetraploid.
Research trials that evaluate binary mixtures of the above clovers with new perennial grasses including ryegrasses (diploids and tetraploids) have been established and rotationally grazed for one year. Binary mixtures of clovers and grasses, on average, resulted in 0.5 tons/acre more dry matter than clover grown in a monoculture or the grass grown in monoculture and fertilized with 200 lbs/acre nitrogen annually in split applications.
The pure stands and binary mixtures have been evaluated by both grazing. Plots were clipped before and evaluated during and after grazing to determine palatability and dry matter yields presented and dry matter rejected by animals. We found that all species, when kept in the vegetative stage for grazing, were similar in palatability. If orchardgrass began to head out, it was less palatable than other species. Tall fescue was less palatable in the summer months than all other species of grass. Animals consumed all clovers consumed equally.
Research trials have been established at the MSU Kellogg Biological Station dairy farm, the MSU Lake City beef cattle and forage research station, and the Upper Peninsula research station farm. In addition, on-farm demonstrations have been established on the John Jelinik and the Craig Newland farm in eastern and western Michigan, respectively. The trials have been located in three different environments that are separated by two degrees latitude each and differ significantly in terms of winter temperature and snowfall. One on-farm demonstration is on a grazing cow-calf farm with soils consisting of somewhat poorly drained clay loam, while the other is on a grazing dairy farm with loamy sand soils. The different locations provided a significantly different winter environment to evaluate winter hardiness of the grasses. The most significant winter injury occurred at Lake City while the least was at the Upper Peninsula site. Lake City has less snowfall but similar cold temperatures compared to the Upper Peninsula.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Two pasture walks were held at each on-farm demonstration. In addition, a field day was held at each experiment station where results were highlighted. Preliminary results were written up in the Michigan Hay and Grazing Council “Hay and Grazier” newsletter. In addition, results were incorporated in two different grazing schools held in southern and northern Michigan. Results were also presented at the annual meeting of the Michigan Hay and Grazing Council in January, 2004. A poster detailing initial results of this research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Agronomy in November of 2003. Producers were able to see first hand which species/varieties/combinations resulted in the best stands and dry matter yields. This information combined with data coming from the research trials enables producers to choose better performing species/varieties for use on their farms. Prior to this research effort, Michigan was known as the dumping ground of the seed industry as many companies sold poor genetics and older varieties to producers in the state. This research has increased the awareness of producers of the importance of variety selection for better pasture management. In addition, the use of legumes grown with grasses has shown 0.5 tons/acre increase in yield of dry matter compared to the same grasses fertilized annually with 200 lbs/acre nitrogen. This stresses the importance of legumes in the pasture mix to provide free nitrogen and better quality.