An alternative method of managing perennial ryegrass for greater persistence

Anthony Leddin

Valley Seeds, 295 Maroondah link Highway, Yarck, Victoria, 3719, www.valleyseeds.com, aleddin@valleyseeds.com

Abstract:

Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) has been the main perennial temperate grass sown in high rainfall zones (+650 mm annual rainfall) since the release of the first varieties in Australia in the early 20th century.  With the drier conditions that farmers are now experiencing in these regions, there has been a decrease in the persistence of this species.  Previous grazing management methods have encouraged the use of leaf growth stage to determine the right time to graze a perennial ryegrass pasture.  The appropriate time for grazing was identified to be at the 2½-3 leaf stage of growth.  However, under dry summer conditions these parameters are not met as farmers push their paddocks for as much production as possible and hence persistency is decreased.  This paper wishes to open discussion on identifying new methods of management, such as allowing perennial ryegrass varieties to set seed in their first year of establishment to allow greater root development and allow a seed bank that can last up in the soil for up to 3 years.  This seed setting management should then be repeated every 3 years when the seed bank has expired (Oregon State University, 2003).  For this management method to be successful, careful selection of the appropriate heading date of a variety to match the annual rainfall of the environment is critical.

Host

The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography david_marland@hotmail.com Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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