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Pasture management strategies for establishment, productivity, environmental impact and sheep performance in grass-legume intercropping systems


The objective of this study will be to evaluate pasture establishment, productivity, environmental impact and sheep performance using different management strategies of multispecies pastures intercropped with corn. Corn, the forage legumes Macrotiloma axillare NO 279, Neonotonia wightii NO 2348, Calopogonium mucunoides NO 1824 and Stylosanthes guianensis NO 1327 from the Active Germplasm Bank of Instituto de Zootecnia, and Aruana grass (Panicum maximum cv. Aruana) will be planted simultaneously in December 2018. Pasture establishment and the production and nutritive value of corn silage will be described. After corn harvest, the multispecies pasture will be evaluated in four treatments of forage canopy height (15, 30, 45, and 60 cm) maintained under continuous stocking, with a variable stocking rate per sheep, in a randomized block design consisting of four replicates (16 paddocks of 500 m2 each) until December 2020. In each season of the year, forage mass, botanical and morphological composition of the forage, forage accumulation (exclusion cages), canopy structure, bromatological composition, and digestibility of hand-plucked pasture samples will be evaluated. Soil compaction, soil moisture, and CO2 emission from soil will also be analyzed. Animal performance will be measured in two tester animals per experimental unit by weight recordings every 28 days. The results will contribute to the determination of management targets for Aruana and legume multispecies pastures that provide the maximum presence of legumes in the forage mass and highest animal production. (AU)

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