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Effects of grazing management on Sirosa phalaris herbage mass and persistence in a predominantly summer rainfall environment

G. M. Lodge and B. A. Orchard

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 40(2) 155 - 169
Published: 2000


Herbage mass, plant frequency and basal cover data collected from September 1993 to August 1996 were used to compare the effects of various seasonal closures with continuous grazing on the persistence of Sirosa phalaris (Phalaris aquatica cv. Sirosa) at 3 sites on the North West Slopes of New South Wales. Sites were on-farm and consisted of up to 10 treatments with 2 replicates and treatments were initially imposed in 2 different years. Pastures were either newly sown (3 years old) and grazed by either sheep or cattle, or degraded (14 years old) and grazed by sheep.

Drought conditions prevailed in 1994–95, confounding the interpretation of the importance of treatments that involved long periods of closure, since significant effects could be attributed to both grazing exclusion and the timing of the closure in relation to plant phenology. However, across all sites and years, fitted values for phalaris herbage mass were generally significantly higher than the continuously grazed control in only 2 treatments: spring closure (at 1 site) and an extended spring closure combined with an autumn closure (at all sites). At the end of these studies phalaris herbage mass in spring–autumn closures was 4–32 times higher than the control plots. These results were confirmed by analysis of initial and final plant frequency data. At all sites, no recruitment of Sirosa seedlings occurred in any treatment.

These data support the hypothesis that for increased persistence in a summer rainfall environment Sirosa phalaris requires some form of grazing management that involves the exclusion of grazing in the critical periods of spring and autumn.

© CSIRO 2000

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