Forage yield of unfertilized perennial crops in simple and complex mixtures under two management strategies in northeastern Saskatchewan
A field experiment was sown on May 27, 2008 at Melfort, Saskatchewan (52O44’N 104O47’W) on a thick Black Chernozem (Udic Boroll) silty clay soil to compare the effects of perennial forage crop monocultures and mixtures on dry matter yield (DMY) under two-cut and three-cut management systems in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The 11 treatments were consisted of monocultures of alfalfa, crested wheatgrass, hybrid bromegrass, intermediate wheatgrass, smooth bromegrass and in mixtures with alfalfa; a more complex mixture of smooth and hybrid bromegrass, intermediate and crested wheatgrass and alfalfa, and finally a very complex mixture consisting of the complex mixture plus orchardgrass, tall fescue, timothy, meadow bromegrass and slender wheatgrass. The alfalfa was inoculated with rhizobium, and no fertilizer was added to any treatment during the course of this study. In 2009, the first cutting year, all treatments produced similar forage DMY, with the monoculture grasses yielding almost as much as that of their mixture with alfalfa. In 2010 and 2011, monoculture alfalfa was the highest yielding treatment under both two and three cut methods. The two cut system yielded higher in all years for both treatments, except alfalfa in 2010. The complex and very complex mixtures yielded higher than the monoculture grass treatments, but did not yield higher than the simple alfalfa grass mixtures or the monoculture alfalfa treatment. In conclusion, the inclusion of alfalfa in unfertilized grass mixtures increased forage yield, especially after the first year.
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