Grazing tolerance of alfalfa (Medicago spp.) under continuous and rotational stocking systems in pure stands and in mixture with meadow bromegrass (Bromus riparius Rehm. syn. B. biebersteinii Roem & Schult)

F. Katepa-Mupondwa, A. Singh, S. R. Smith, W. P. McCaughey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

The continuing development of adapted alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) cultivars that combine high yield, disease resistance, winterhardiness, and grazing tolerance is of great value to the beef cattle industry in western Canada. This study evaluated alternative management strategies and plant measurements for assessing the grazing tolerance of alfalfa cultivars over 3 yr. Seven hay-type, four pasture-type, and one dual-purpose (hay or graze) cultivars were established in pure stands and in mixture with meadow bromegrass (Bromus riparius Rehm. syn. B. biebersteinii Roem & Schult). Stands were defoliated under continuous or rotational stocking with beef cattle (Bos taurus). Plants were assessed for winterhardiness, percent alfalfa within row, percent alfalfa cover, basal area and species composition. Continuous stocking resulted in consistent and significant differences between cultivars, whether persistence was measured as percent alfalfa within row, percent cover and basal area, in both pure and mixed stands (P < 0.05). High correlations between measurement techniques (r = 0.74 to 0.99; P < 0.05) confirmed the value of alfalfa within row and alfalfa cover as time and labour efficient methods to evaluate grazing persistence. Competition between alfalfa and meadow bromegrass resulted in a significant confounding effect under rotational stocking (P < 0.05). Winter injury was identified as an important criteria to evaluate for grazing persistence. The most grazing-tolerant genotypes were selected for subsequent breeding efforts to combine winterhardiness, grazing tolerance, and high productivity. This research showed that grazing method, grass competition, and severe winter conditions strongly influence differential survival of alfalfa cultivars under grazing in western Canada.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-347
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Plant Science
Volume82
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Copyright:
Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Alfalfa
  • Grazing systems
  • Grazing tolerance
  • Medicago falcata L. Arcang
  • Medicago sativa L.
  • Persistence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture

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