Theme 2: Forage--Oral Sessions

Description

In southern Africa, livestock productivity in mixed crop-livestock systems is constrained by forage supply towards the end of the dry period. Opportunities to improve forage availability to close the temporal feed gap counteracting negative effects on production as well as on environment need to be explored. A promising option might be the planting of cover crops (CC) during the winter period. Hence, a field experiment was conducted in the Limpopo province (South Africa) during the autumn-winter period of 2019 at two sites (Syferkuil, Thohoyandu) with contrasting climatic conditions and soil type. We selected multi-functional C3 species – winter rye (Secale cereal L.) intensively used in the temperate region sown as pure stand and established at two sowing dates. We assessed forage production, soil water dynamics and nitrogen accumulation. In a second step, we tested the Agricultural Production Systems simulator (APSIM) model against the field trial data. We present here, preliminary results which show high potential growth when irrigated. Early planting of CC yielded the highest accumulated biomass (18 t DM ha-1 and 7 t DM ha-1 at Syferkuil and Thohoyandu, respectively) after 140 days while delayed planting (4 weeks after first planting) decreased biomass production. The model predictions rely heavily on pedo-climatic interactions which need further improvements.

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Closing Feed Gaps by Winter Forage Production in Limpopo: What Is the Potential?

In southern Africa, livestock productivity in mixed crop-livestock systems is constrained by forage supply towards the end of the dry period. Opportunities to improve forage availability to close the temporal feed gap counteracting negative effects on production as well as on environment need to be explored. A promising option might be the planting of cover crops (CC) during the winter period. Hence, a field experiment was conducted in the Limpopo province (South Africa) during the autumn-winter period of 2019 at two sites (Syferkuil, Thohoyandu) with contrasting climatic conditions and soil type. We selected multi-functional C3 species – winter rye (Secale cereal L.) intensively used in the temperate region sown as pure stand and established at two sowing dates. We assessed forage production, soil water dynamics and nitrogen accumulation. In a second step, we tested the Agricultural Production Systems simulator (APSIM) model against the field trial data. We present here, preliminary results which show high potential growth when irrigated. Early planting of CC yielded the highest accumulated biomass (18 t DM ha-1 and 7 t DM ha-1 at Syferkuil and Thohoyandu, respectively) after 140 days while delayed planting (4 weeks after first planting) decreased biomass production. The model predictions rely heavily on pedo-climatic interactions which need further improvements.