Determining Adaptation of Mono- and Binary Mixtures of Improved Red and Ladino Clovers and Perennial Grasses, Including Perennial Ryegrasses, in the Great Lakes Region
This project focused on the 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 winterhardiness while “aries” and “quartet” showed significant winter injury. In 2004-2005, there was a shift of the highest yield of binary mixes or orchardgrass to tall fescue indicating good persistence of this species. The most palatable combinations and the highest dry matter yield of binary mixtures at Lake City were duo festulolium with red clover, calibra perennial ryegrass and red clover, Tekapo orchardgrass with red clover, and barolex tall fescue with red clover. The highest dry matter yields at Kellogg Biological station were hycor tall fescue and jumbo white clover, Spartan orchardgrass and red clover, barolex tall fescue and red clover, and maverick gold perennial ryegrass and starfire red clover. The highest dry matter yields in the Upper Peninsula were hycor tall fescue and jumbo white clover, Spartan orchardgrass and jumbo white clover, barfort perennial ryegrass and alice white clover, and barolex tall fescue and start red clover. Red clover has always been considered a biennial, but after 3 years only 7 of the top 10 yielding mixtures contain red clover. Kura clover performed better at KBS than LC (3.45 v. 1.78 tons/a).
- 1) Evaluate pure stands of improved red clover, ladino clover, and perennial grasses including ryegrasses (diploids and tetraploids).
2) Evaluate binary mixtures of the above red and ladino clovers with new perennial grasses including ryegrasses (diploids and tetraploids).
3) Evaluate the pure stands and binary mixtures by grazing and mechanically harvesting.
4) Subject the experiments to extreme different climatic environments by locating three experiments with at least two differences of degrees latitude with distinct climatic differences to determine species response to rainfall, temperature and snowfall.
1) Research trials have been established which compare pure stands of improved red, ladino, and
kura clover, perennial grasses including perennial ryegrasses which include both diploids and tetraploids. These trials have been rotationally grazed for four years. A significant difference between winter survival and palatability of different species has been documented. Winterhardiness was related more to the geographic region where the perennial grasses were selected from rather than whether the variety was diploid versus tetraploid.
2) Research trials which evaluate binary mixtures of the above clovers with new perennial
grasses including ryegrasses (diploids and tetraploids) were established and rotationally grazed for three years. 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. Red clover stands were excellent three years of grazing but did not persist into the fourth year.
3) The pure stands and binary mixtures have been evaluated by grazing animals. 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. All clovers were consumed equally by animals.
4) 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 Jelinek and the
Craig Newland farm in Eastern and Western Michigan respectively. The trials have been located in three different environments which are separated by 2 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 winterhardiness 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. The highest winter injury in the trials occurred at the Lake City location.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
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.