Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
Single pugging events, which involve remoulding of the soil around the hooves of livestock during treading, of moderate or severe pugging intensity were imposed in plots in a long-term white clover-ryegrass pasture during spring, by using dairy cows at varying stocking rates (4·5 cows 100 m−2 for 1·5 or 2·5 h respectively). Changes in the growth and morphology of white clover were investigated over the following 12 months. Defoliation at approximately 3-week intervals was carried out by mowing. Annual herbage production was reduced following moderate and severe pugging proportionately by 0·16 and 0·34 compared with the non-pugged control treatment. The corresponding decreases in white clover production were 0·09 and 0·52 respectively. Annual perennial ryegrass production was reduced by 0·37 under severe pugging. Pugging had an immediate adverse effect on growth of white clover which persisted for up to 156 d, and coincided with a large decrease in the proportion of white clover in herbage over the same period (e.g. 0·40 vs. 0·12, in control and severely pugged treatments, respectively, on day 112). In comparison, recovery in ryegrass growth was apparent after 50 d in severely pugged treatments, indicating that white clover is more vulnerable to severe pugging than perennial ryegrass. Analysis of individual white clover plants extracted from turves (300 mm × 300 mm) showed that direct hoof damage, fragmentation and burial of stolons were the major factors which reduced white clover production, rather than the changes in soil physical properties measured. Morphological characteristics associated with plant size (e.g. stolon length, growing points, and leaf numbers) all decreased under pugging. The situation had reversed by late summer, with larger plants dominating pugged plots, and coincided with the recovery of the proportion of white clover in herbage. Strategic pasture management practices, such as restricted grazing and the use of stand-off pads when soils are overly wet, are suggested as means of minimizing treading damage to pasture and reducing negative impacts on the growth and productivity of white clover.
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