Assessing the Effect of Nitrogen Sources, Rates and Time of applications on Yield and Quality of Stockpiled Fescue and Tall Fescue Pastures
Yarber, Elizabeth Lee
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In Virginia, tall fescue [(Schedonorus phoenix (Scop.) Holub,) formally known as Festuca arundinacea L.] can be found on more than 4 million ac of hay and pastureland. Two separate experiments were conducted at three different geographical locations over two growing seasons. The objective of Experiment 1 was to evaluate the influence of N sources and rates on yield and nutritive value of stockpiled tall fescue. Experiment 2 examined the effect of split spring and fall N applications at various rates on yield and nutritive value of tall fescue pastures. The first experiment was conducted at three locations (Blacksburg, Blackstone, and Steeles Tavern, VA) while the second experiment was conducted only at the Blacksburg and Steeles Tavern locations. In Experiment 1, the N sources included ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, urea, urea + AgrotainÂ®, Environmentally Smart NÂ® (ESN), Nutrisphere (NSN), NitaminÂ® (Blackstone only), pelleted biosolids (Blackstone only), and broiler litter (Steeles Tavern only) applied at 0, 28, 56, 84, and 112 kg plant available N (PAN) ha-1. Plots were harvested in mid-December (Blacksburg and Steeles Tavern) and late January (Blackstone). The yield of the stockpiled tall fescue in 2006 ranged from 1,300 to 2,900, 1,700 to 3,000, and 2,600 to 3,300 kg DM ha-1 for the Blacksburg, Steeles Tavern and Blackstone locations, respectively. In 2007, however, the yield response to N rate and sources was significantly less than that of 2006 due to low rainfall. At the Blacksburg location, ammonium sulfate and ESN resulted in higher CP concentrations, ranging from 11-14% and 12-20% for 2006 and 2007 growing seasons, respectively. Similar variation (12-20%) was observed for the Steeles Tavern location in 2006. In general, the ADF and NDF content decreased as N rate increased from 0-112 kg ha1. Although the source and rate that resulted in high yield and nutritive value varied across location and years, N rates and sources improved the quality and yield of stockpiled fescue. Experiment 2 utilized urea which was applied in the fall at the rates of 0, 45, 90 or 135 kg N ha-1. followed by spring application of 0, 45, 90 or 135 kg N ha-1. A total of 16 treatment combinations per replication were used. Yields ranged from 1,900 to 3,600 kg DM ha-1 and 700 to 2,500 kg DM ha-1 in 2007 and 2008, respectively. At the Steeles Tavern location, yields ranged from 3,100 to 5,700 kg DM ha-1 and 2,500 to 5,100 kg DM ha-1, in 2007 and 2008, respectively. In both years CP increased with increasing N fertilization. On a dry matter basis, CP values ranged from 14 to 23% for both years. Treatments did not affect on NDF and ADF values. Split fall/spring N applications did not maximize yield of cool-season grass pastures in these experiments.
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