Swiss Federal Research Station for Animal Production, Posieux

The intensity of grassland management influences the nutrient contents of the grass

The influence of different cutting frequencies and fertilization levels on dry matter (DM) yield, botanical composition and nutrient contents of meadow grass was investigated from 1993 to 1999. The following four variants were compared: 5 cuts and 300 kg N per ha, 5 cuts and 150 kg N per ha, 3 cuts and 150 kg N per ha, 2 cuts and no fertilizer. The average dry matter yield per year amounted to 11,9 and 9,8 t per ha for the two 5-cut-variants. For the 3-cut and the 2-cut-variant the dry matter yields were 11,1 and 8,2 t. In the 5-cut-variants the fertilizer level influenced the botanical composition. The variant with 150 kg N showed less grasses and more clover in comparison to the variant with 300 kg N. The 3-cut and 2-cut-variants had a higher proportion of grasses than the two 5-cut-variants. The highest amounts were found in 1995 with about 90 %. Concerning the nutrient contents big differences were found between the two 5-cut-variants and the 3-cut and the 2-cut-variant, respectively. For the two 5-cut-variants the higher N fertilisation had only a small effect on the nutritive contents. The average contents per kg DM were for the two 5-cut-variants: 160 and 156 g crude protein, 223 and 215 g crude fibre, 113 and 115 g sugar and 6,1 and 6,2 MJ net energy lactation. For the 3-cut and 2-cut variant the figures per kg DM were: 102 and 89 g crude protein, 286 and 303 g crude fibre, 88 and 79 g sugar and 5,5 and 5,4 MJ net energy lactation.

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