Gas exchange in Massai grass fertilized with nitrogen and grazed by sheep
The knowledge of gas exchanges in forage plants is essential for a better understanding of the process of forage biomass production in pasture. This study evaluated the gas exchange in massai grass fertilized with increasing levels of nitrogen fertilizer (control - without nitrogen fertilizer; 400; 800 and 1200 kg ha-1 year-1) and under rotational grazing by sheep, in a completely randomized design with repeated measures in time. The rest period was approximately 1.5 new leaves per tiller, as
... es per tiller, as determined in the pre-test at the beginning of the experiment, providing interval of 22; 18; 16 and 13 days for the levels 0.0 - control; 400; 800 and 1200 kg ha-1 year-1 nitrogen, respectively. The animals used to lower the sward height to the recommended residual height were sheep (½ Morada Nova x ½ undefined breed), placed in paddocks of 42.3 m2. As the animals grazed, the height of the sward was monitored with a ruler until the canopy reached the recommended residual height of approximately 15 cm, corresponding to the residual LAI of exit of the animals from the paddock at approximately 1.5, as determined in a pre-test to set up the experiment. The variables stomatal conductance, leaf photosynthesis rate, leaf carbon dioxide concentration, photosynthesis/transpiration ratio, chlorophyll relative index and nitrogen sufficiency index revealed a positive linear response to nitrogen fertilization. Nitrogen fertilization level at 1200 kg ha-1 year-1 caused an increment of 92.3% in leaf photosynthesis rate in relation to the control. The leaf temperature and photosynthesis/conductance ratio were reduced with increasing nitrogen levels. The leaf transpiration showed a quadratic response with maximum point with increasing nitrogen levels. Nitrogen fertilization favor the gas exchange in massai grass up to the last level tested.