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Tiller demography in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) swards as influenced by nitrogen fertilization, sowing method and grazing management

Authors

  • O. Scheneiter,

    1. Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Centro Regional Buenos Aires Norte, Estación Experimental Agropecuaria Pergamino, Buenos Aires, Argentina
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  • C. Améndola

    1. Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Centro Regional Buenos Aires Norte, Estación Experimental Agropecuaria Pergamino, Buenos Aires, Argentina
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O. Scheneiter Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Centro Regional Buenos Aires Norte, Estación Experimental Agropecuaria Pergamino, Avda. Frondizi km 4.5, B2700WAA, Pergamino, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina.
E-mail: oscheneiter@pergamino.inta.gov.ar

Abstract

Tall fescue is an important temperate grassland species globally, but in many regions the effects of drought, heat and poor grazing management, reduce its persistence in summer. Furthermore, poor ground cover and low tiller population density (TP) in winter result in low radiation capture and thus limited potential to increase the low growth rates at that time. Knowledge of the effect of fertilization, defoliation managements and establishment methods on demography of tall fescue would help to improve sward management for better persistence and winter growth. Accordingly, an experiment was carried out in Pergamino, Argentina, to study the effects of two N- fertilizer levels, two grazing frequencies and two seeding row arrangements upon tall fescue TP demography. Herbage mass, tiller appearance (TA) and death rates were measured over 3 years. Seasonal fluctuations in TA and death rates determined well-defined periods of increase and decrease in TP density. Maximum values were found at the end of winter and minimum ones at the end of spring, after the reproductive period. Nitrogen shortage and high herbage mass limited TA. Tiller death rate followed TA rate and was affected by nitrogen supply and defoliation frequency in the same way that TA was. Sowing arrangement affected tiller demography at the beginning of the experiment.

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