ISSN 1392-3196 / e-ISSN 2335-8947
Zemdirbyste-Agriculture, vol. 101, No. 1 (2014), p. 11–18
DOI  10.13080/z-a.2014.101.002

Effects of low precipitation periods on the herbage yield of mesic semi-natural grasslands under different cutting regimes



Climatic changes have led to extreme weather events, with longer dry periods affecting forage production in mesic grasslands. The effects of grassland management and years with periods of low precipitation on herbage dry matter (DM) yield were studied in two-long term grassland experiments with different cutting and fertilization regimes for the period 2000–2012. In both experiments, the annual herbage DM yields had high correlations with the amount of precipitation. The correlation was stronger in frequent cuttings regimes. The management type and the year significantly affected the herbage DM yield in both experiments. There was also a significant management × year interaction. On average, over the whole observation period, the herbage DM yield of equally fertilized treatments in experiment I was higher in treatments with two cuts per season than in treatments with more cuts. Furthermore, longer periods of low precipitation exerted fewer effects on the DM yield of the two cuts treatments compared to higher cutting frequencies. However, the increase in herbage productivity in years following seasons with low precipitation was higher in the treatments with higher cutting frequencies than in those with two cuts per season. When the treatment, cut four times per year, received a higher amount of fertilizer than the treatment, cut twice per year (experiment II), the long-term average annual herbage DM yield was higher and the yield was less decreased by longer periods of low precipitation than the two cuts per year treatment. Despite the fact that the effects of different treatments were proved in both experiments, the differences in the DM yields among the treatments in low precipitation years were not high enough to recommend best-management practices for forage production on mesic grasslands in areas subject to increasing periods of low precipitation.

Key words: cuts, drought, dry matter yield, grassland, precipitation.

Full text: 101_1_str2.pdf