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    Benefits of mixing grasses and legumes for herbage yield and nutritive value in Northern Europe and Canada


    Sturludóttir, E. and Brophy, Caroline and Belanger, Gilles and Gustavsson, Anne-Maj and Jørgensen, Marit and Lunnan, Tor and Helgadottir, Aslaug (2014) Benefits of mixing grasses and legumes for herbage yield and nutritive value in Northern Europe and Canada. Grass and Forage Science, 69 (2). pp. 229-240. ISSN 0142-5242

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    Abstract

    Increased biodiversity may improve ecosystem services, including herbage yield. A mixture experiment was carried out at five sites in Northern Europe and one in Canada to investigate whether mixtures of grasses and legumes would give higher herbage yield than monocultures. Resistance of the mixtures to weed invasion and nutritive value of the herbage were also investigated. The experimental layout followed a simplex design, where four species differing in specific functional traits, timothy (Phleum pratense L.), smooth meadow grass (Poa pratensis L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) and white clover (Trifolium repens L.), were grown in monocultures and eleven different mixtures with systematically varying proportions of the four species. Positive diversity effects (DE) were observed, leading to greater herbage dry‐matter (DM) yield in mixtures than expected from species sown in monocultures. For centroid mixtures, the DE generated on average an additional 32, 25 and 21% of the DM yield than would be expected from the monocultures in the first, second and third year respectively. On average, the mixtures were 9, 15 and 7% more productive than the most productive monoculture (transgressive overyielding) in the first, second and third year respectively. These benefits persisted over the three harvest years of the experiment and were consistent among most sites. This positive effect was not accompanied by a reduction in herbage digestibility and crude protein concentration that is usually observed with increased DM yield. Mixtures also reduced the invasion of weeds to <5% of herbage yield compared to monocultures (10–60% of herbage yield).

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: diversity effect; grass-legume mixtures; herbage quality; transgressive overyielding;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Mathematics and Statistics
    Faculty of Science and Engineering > Research Institutes > Hamilton Institute
    Item ID: 9987
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1111/gfs.12037
    Depositing User: Dr. Caroline Brophy
    Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2018 14:44
    Journal or Publication Title: Grass and Forage Science
    Publisher: Wiley
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

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