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Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Sward structural characteristics and herbage accumulation of Piatã palisade grass (Brachiaria brizantha) in a crop–livestock–forest integration area

Steben Crestani A E , Jorge Daniel Caballero Mascheroni B , Eliana Vera Geremia C , Roberta Aparecida Carnevalli D , Gerson Barreto Mourão C and Sila Carneiro Da Silva C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Federal University of South Frontier, Highway SC-484, Km 02, Chapecó, SC, Brazil, 89815-899.

B Department of Animal Production, Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Estigarribia, Km 10.5, San Lorenzo, Paraguay.

C Department of Animal Science, University of São Paulo, 11 Pádua dias Avenue, Piracicaba, SP, Brazil, 13418-900.

D Embrapa, Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, Highway Pioneer, MT-222, Km 2.5, Sinop, MT, Brazil 78550-970.

E Corresponding author. Email: steben@usp.br

Crop and Pasture Science 68(9) 859-871 https://doi.org/10.1071/CP16341
Submitted: 24 September 2016  Accepted: 20 September 2017   Published: 24 October 2017

Abstract

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of shading on structural characteristics and herbage accumulation of palisade grass (Brachiaria brizantha cv. Piatã), in a crop–livestock–forest integration area. Three shade regimes were evaluated: no shade (NS), moderate shade (MS, 338 trees ha–1), and intense shade (IS, 714 trees ha–1). The effects of shade regime on soil-water content and nitrogen nutrition index were also evaluated. Grazing management was established based on sward light interception targets (95% LI pre-gazing). The MS and IS regimes were divided into two shade strips (central and lateral) in order to describe the variation in light availability within the paddocks. Two methods for taking the reference readings of LI were tested in IS paddocks: LI reading inside (under the tree canopy) and outside (under full sunlight) the experimental area. Increased tree density reduced photosynthetically active radiation on lateral and central shade strips by 37% and 12% for MS, and 52% and 50% for IS, respectively. For NS, MS, IS (outside) and IS (inside), grazing intervals were 23, 26, 28 and 35 days, pre-grazing heights corresponded to 33, 35, 43 and 52 cm, and pre-grazing herbage mass to 5.37, 4.44, 2.96 and 3.23 t ha–1, respectively. Leaf percentage remained relatively stable across shade regimes, but stem percentage was greater and dead material percentage was smaller for IS than for NS and MS. Soil water content was lower near the trees, especially during the dry season. Relative to NS, herbage accumulation decreased by 39% and 68% for MS and IS, respectively. Under natural shade, small variations in light availability affect sward structure and herbage production. The use of the 95% LI target developed under full sunlight conditions is not suitable for use under trees, emphasising the need to generate specific grazing-management targets for pastures cultivated under trees.

Additional keywords: agroforestry, field grown, fluctuating light, forage yield, moisture stress, tropical grass.


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