Xaraés palisadegrass remains productive after the disappearance of stylo in tropical legume-grass pasture


Sci. agric. (Piracicaba, Braz.)




Gradual reduction of legumes in mixed tropical pastures requires periodic oversowing. Exploiting the carrying capacity of grass for an extra year after the disappearance of legumes can be economically advantageous to the farmer. This study aimed to evaluate the productivity of Xaraés palisadegrass (Brachiaria brizantha) pastures in response to its historical association with stylo (Stylosanthes guianensis) under two canopy heights to determine whether different grazing management conditions affect the defoliation pattern left by grazing animals. The split-plot experimental design was used, with the historical botanical composition (HBC) (24, 34, 45 and 52 % legume composition) corresponding to the main plots and the canopy frequency of defoliation determined at heights of 30 and 45 cm for Xaraés palisadegrass corresponding to the subplots with two replicates (500 m2) grazed by Tabapuã cows. Pastures with over 34 % stylo in the botanical composition remained productive for one year after legume disappearance, accumulating more than 8 mg ha−1 of forage per year. Xaraés palisadegrass pastures at a height of 30 cm provided better canopy structure, with 64 % less stem production and 43 % less dead material. The 30-cm pre-grazing canopy height provided a grazing environment conducive to forage intake by animals that resulted in efficient use of the pasture. In response to the improved canopy structure, the cows grazed an average of 60 fewer minutes. A HBC greater than 34 % of legumes in the pastures allows for the postponement of legume oversowing until the next growing season.

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