The effects of simulated spring goose grazing on the growth rate and protein content of Phleum pratense leaves
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The effects of simulated goose grazing on Phleum pratense plants were tested in an Iceland hayfield during the spring goose staging period (19 April–11 May 1997). Plants in an area exclosed from the influence of grazing and the nutrient effects of goose faeces were subject to the removal of the youngest lamina once, three and four times during this period. Clipping three and four times resulted in 25–41% increases in cumulative elongation of youngest laminae compared with unclipped plants. Total cumulative lamina growth of entire plants showed no significant difference between unclipped plants and those clipped three and four times, hence no overcompensation occurred. Sequential clipping elevated the protein content of the youngest laminae from 20% to 27–33%, whereas there was no change amongst shoots clipped only once. Because geese only consume the youngest lamina of each Phleum plant, measurements from this experiment showed that regular physical removal of growing biomass doubled the biomass of preferred tissue available to geese and increased the potential protein intake 3.5 times at experimental clipping frequencies similar to levels of sequential harvesting observed amongst staging geese compared to less frequent harvesting. These increases were achieved without any fertilising effects of goose faeces implicated in such effects in previous studies.
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