Lime increases productivity and the capacity of lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) and phalaris (Phalaris aquatica L.) to utilise stored soil water on an acidic soil in south-eastern Australia
- 383 Downloads
We hypothesised that a) species with greater acid soil tolerance have an increased capacity to utilise incipient rainfall; and b) liming increases the productivity and the ability of pasture species to utilise available water resources in the profile of an acid soil.
A field experiment was established on a moderately acidic yellow Kandosol and monitored over 5 years. Five perennial pasture species including lucerne (Medicago sativa L.), phalaris (Phalaris aquatica L.), chicory (Cichorium intybus L.), tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) and cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata L.), were sown in monocultures with and without 2.9 t/ha lime.
Both lucerne and phalaris were more persistent than chicory, tall fescue and cocksfoot under severe drought, despite both being considered sensitive to soil acidity. Surface liming increased the soil water deficit by up to 27 mm at 0.75–1.65 m under perennial pastures compared to unlimed treatments, despite lime having no physical presence at that depth. Lime increased lucerne, phalaris and cocksfoot cumulative herbage biomass by 150, 30 and 20 %, respectively, but had no significant effect on chicory or tall fescue biomass.
The two most acid-sensitive species, lucerne and phalaris, were more resilient under drought despite the acidic nature of the soil. We contend that species sensitive to acidity can be a valuable addition to pastures on acid soils. Lime used in conjunction with deep-rooted perennial species is likely to maximise the ability of pastures to utilise scarce available soil water reserves.
KeywordsSoil acidity Biomass Persistence Alfalfa Orchard grass Harding grass
The authors gratefully acknowledge Evan Moll and family, ‘Elderslie’ Gerogery, for their enthusiastic support of this research and access to land for experimentation. Funding for this research was provided by the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Australian Wool Innovation. The senior author presented some of the results from this experiment in his Master Thesis submitted to Charles Sturt University in 2009. The insightful comments of two anonymous referees greatly improved the quality of this manuscript.
- Anon (2004) Phalaris Phalaris aquatica. Agnote DPI-284, third edition. NSW Department of Primary Industries. http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/pastures/pastures-and-rangelands/species-varieties/factsheets/phalaris
- Bureau of Meteorology (2014) Climate data online (Australia). Walla Walla Post Office; station 074117. http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/data/. Accessed 9 July 2014.
- De Marco D, Li CB, Randall PJ (1995) Manganese toxicity in Trifolium balansae, T. resupinatum, T. subterraneum, Medicago murex, M. polymorpha, M. sativa, Lotus pedunculatus, and Ornithopus compressus: relative tolerance and critical toxicity concentrations. Aust J Exp Agric 35(3):367–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Dear BS, Peoples MB, Cocks PS, Swan AD, Smith AB (1999) Nitrogen fixation by subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) growing in pure culture and in mixtures with varying densities of lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) or phalaris (Phalaris aquatica L.). Aust J Agric Res 50(6):1047–1058CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hayes RC, Li GD, Dear BS, Conyers MK, Virgona JM (2010b) Phalaris and lime – improving productivity on an acidic soil in a drought-prone ‘high-rainfall’ environment. In: Dove H, Culvenor RA (eds) Food Security from Sustainable Agriculture, Proceedings of 15th Agronomy Conference. Australian Society of Agronomy, LincolnGoogle Scholar
- Hayes RC, Conyers MK, Li GD, Poile GJ, Price A, McVittie BJ, Gardner MJ, Sandral GA, McCormick JI (2012a) Spatial and temporal variation in soil Mn2+ concentrations and the impact of manganese toxicity on lucerne and subterranean clover seedlings. Crop Pasture Sci 63(9):875–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hayes RC, Li GD, Hackney BF (2012b) Perennial pasture species for the mixed farming zone of southern NSW - we don’t have many options. In: Harris C, Lodge G, Waters C (eds) Driving your landscape to success - Managing a grazing business for profit in the agricultural landscape, Proceedings of the 27th annual conference of The Grassland Society of NSW Inc. The Grassland Society of NSW Inc., Orange, Wagga Wagga, pp 92–100Google Scholar
- Hayes RC, Li GD, Culvenor RA (2015) Changed recommendations for the use of phalaris on acid soils. In: Building Productive, Diverse and Sustainable Landscapes. Proceedings of the 17th Australian Society of Agronomy Conference, 20–24 September, Hobart, Australia. www.agronomy2015.com.au
- Helyar KR (1976) Nitrogen cycling and soil acidification. J Aust Inst Agric Sci 42:217–221Google Scholar
- Hoffmann JD, Eberbach PL, Virgona JM, Katupitiya A (2003) Conservative water use by lucerne, 11th Australian Agronomy Conference, “Solutions for a new environment”. Australian Society of Agronomy, GeelongGoogle Scholar
- Isbell RF (1996) The Australian Soil Classification. CSIRO, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
- Lattimore MA, McCormick L (2012) Pasture varieties used in New South Wales 2012–13. New South Wales: Published jointly by NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Grassland Society of NSW IncGoogle Scholar
- Li GD, Helyar KR, Conyers MK, Castleman LJC, Fisher RP, Poile GJ, Lisle CJ, Cullis BR, Cregan PD (2006a) Pasture and sheep responses to lime application in a grazing experiment in a high-rainfall area, south-eastern Australia. II. Liveweight gain and wool production. Aust J Agric Res 57(10):1057–1066CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Li GD, Helyar KR, Welham SJ, Conyers MK, Castleman LJC, Fisher RP, Evans CM, Cullis BR, Cregan PD (2006b) Pasture and sheep responses to lime application in a grazing experiment in a high-rainfall area, south-eastern Australia. I. Pasture production. Aust J Agric Res 57(10):1045–1055CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Li GD, Lodge GM, Moore GA, Craig AD, Dear BS, Boschma SP, Albertson TO, Miller SM, Harden S, Hayes RC, Hughes SJ, Snowball R, Smith AB, Cullis BR (2008) Evaluation of perennial pasture legumes and herbs to identify species with high herbage production and persistence in mixed farming zones in southern Australia. Aust J Exp Agric 48:449–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Li G, Conyers M, Cullis B (2010) Long-term liming ameliorates subsoil acidity in high rainfall zone in south-eastern Australia. In: Gilkes RJ, Prakongkep N (eds) 19th World Congress of Soil Science; Soil Solutions for a Changing World. International Union of Soil Science, Brisbane, pp 136–139Google Scholar
- Reuter DJ, Robinson JB (1997) Plant Analysis an Interpretation Manual, 2nd edn. CSIRO Publishing, CollingwoodGoogle Scholar
- Singer MJ, Munns DN (1996) Acidity and salinity. In: Singer MJ, Munns DN (eds) Soils an Introduction Third Edition. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, pp 267–298Google Scholar
- Song Y, Hayes RC, Sandral GA, McVittie BJ, Zheng W, Li GD (2014) Aluminium tolerance of 20 temperate grasses and 4 temperate legumes in solution culture. In: Patti A, Tang C, Wong V (eds) Proceedings of the Soil Science Australia National Soil Science Conference: Securing Australia’s soils - for profitable industries and healthy landscapes. Australian Society of Soil Science, Melbourne, http://www.soilscience2014.com/proceedings/Guangdi_Li.pdfGoogle Scholar
- White RE, Helyar KR, Ridley AM, Chen D, Heng LK, Evans J, Fisher R, Hirth JR, Mele PM, Morrison GR, Cresswell HP, Paydar Z, Dunin FX, Dove H, Simpson RJ (2000) Soil factors affecting the sustainability and productivity of perennial and annual pastures in the high rainfall zone of south-eastern Australia. Aust J Exp Agric 40(2):267–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar