Plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.) content within plantain/ perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) pastures may be limited by livestock treading damage
TThere is evidence that plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.) persistence within perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) dominant dairy pastures is usually poor. One factor potentially limiting plantain content and persistence is treading damage, caused by cows grazing
pasture while the soil moisture content is high. The impact of treading damage on plantain regrowth and survival was investigated in two field experiments at Massey University, Palmerston North. In a small-plot study, cow treading damage was simulated on separate
plantain and perennial ryegrass pastures using a novel treading device. Subsequently, a larger-scale experiment investigated the impact of treading damage by grazing dairy cows on plantain regrowth and survival within a mixed plantain/perennial ryegrass pasture. Damage by the treading device, in late spring, immediately reduced the growth rate of both plantain and perennial ryegrass
pastures by 30%, however neither plantain content nor density were reduced. In experiment 2, treading damage reduced the growth rate of the mixed pasture by 50% in early spring but it recovered during late spring. Plantain content and density were both initially reduced by the treading damage treatment but recovered to pretreading levels by autumn. These results suggest that treading damage from cows may be an important cause of reduced plantain content in dairy pastures during spring, however there was no evidence that treading damage reduced plantain persistence.
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