The effects of first defoliation and previous management intensity on forage quality of a semi-natural species-rich grassland

PAVLŮ, Klára, KASSAHUN, Teowdroes, PAVLŮ, Vilém V., PAVLŮ, Lenka, BLAŽEK, Petr a HOMOLKA, Petr. The effects of first defoliation and previous management intensity on forage quality of a semi-natural species-rich grassland. PLoS One, 2021, 16, Article Number: e0248804. ISSN 1932-6203.
Kateg. publikaceVědecké publikace impaktované
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Semi-natural grasslands occupy large parts of the European landscape but little information exists about seasonal variations in their nutritive value during the growing season. This paper presents results of novel data showing the effect of 13 years of previous contrasting management intensities on herbage nutritional value in relation to different dates of first defoliation (by grazing or haymaking). The treatments were: extensive management and intensive management from previous years (1998-2011). Both treatments were cut in June followed by intensive/extensive grazing for the rest of the grazing season (July-October). To evaluate forage quality in the first defoliation date, biomass sampling was performed in the year 2012 for 23 weeks from May to mid-October, and in 2013 for seven weeks from May to mid-June. Sampling was performed from plots that were not under management during the sampling year. Previous extensive management was associated with significantly reduced forage quality for in vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD), crude protein, neutral detergent fibre, acid detergent fibre and reduced divalent cations (Ca, Mg) and Na during the first seven weeks of the grazing season and the forage was suitable only for beef cattle. Due to low forage IVOMD, the forage is suitable only for cattle maintenance or for low quality hay when the start of grazing was postponed from seven weeks of vegetative growth to 13 weeks, regardless of the previous intensity. Herbage harvested after 13 weeks of the grazing season was of very low quality and was unsuitable as a forage for cattle when it was the only source of feed. Agri-environmental payments are necessary to help agricultural utilisation to maintain semi-natural grasslands by compensating for deterioration of forage quality, not only for the postponement of the first defoliation (either as cutting or grazing) after mid-June, but also when extensive management is required.

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