Determining Thresholds for Grassland Renovation by Sod-Seeding

Victor P. Rueda-Ayala, Mats Höglind
2019 Agronomy  
This study aimed at identifying optimal sward conditions for successful establishment of red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) through sod-seeding two typical Norwegian grassland systems dominated by timothy (Phleum pratense L.) and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), respectively. A total of four sod-seeding trials were implemented, two in late summer (SUM) and two in spring (SPR), one for each sward type and time point for reseeding. The sward coverage status was the basis for threshold
more » ... for threshold definition, and image analysis techniques were used for objective coverage estimation of living plants, dead material and bare soil. Plots with different coverage levels (0–100% of the soil covered by vegetation) were created by spraying a broad-spectrum herbicide (glyphosate) in a spot-wise pattern, mimicking common types of patchiness caused by stressful weather events, e.g., frost or mechanical damage from wheels or hoofs. Seed germination and emergence started similarly in all coverage ranges. However, as time progressed clover seedlings started to die at a coverage dependent rate, and at the final harvest red clover dry matter (RCDM) was the lowest on plots with the highest pre-seeding coverage level. Dose-response curves explained these relationships and allowed estimating the effective-coverage ( E C o v 80 ), being the initial sward coverage at which 80% of all established red clover plants contributed significantly to the total biomass. Above 2500 kg ha−1 RCDM were produced on timothy ( E C o v 80 : 15 - 50 % ) in SUM, while less than 1000 kg ha−1 RCDM were produced on ryegrass ( E C o v 80 : ± 10 % ), indicating better conditions for clover establishment in timothy compared with ryegrass. In SPR, an E C o v 80 : 10 - 15 % allowed a good red clover estabishment in ryegrass at cut 3, while RCDM was important and significant in timothy even between E C o v 80 20 and 60%, at cut 2 and cut 3, respectively. These thresholds for sod-seeding mark the challenges to introduce red clover in dense swards and could be applicable for grassland renovation with other desirable legume and grasses species. Our findings represent particular soil and climatic characteristics of the study site, thus should be taken with caution. Due to the lack of experimentally and sytematically determined thresholds for reseeding, future studies could benefit from our experimental approach, as a base for more complex, multi-site and multi-seasonal investigations, and farmers could use these thresholds for decision making on successful grassland renovation, to avoid wasting seed resources and yield loses.
doi:10.3390/agronomy9120842 fatcat:oldkdyq5uzd7hdpnjqwf6qsoty