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-2°
Austria
  • Soil texture
    crop soil texture
    medium to heavy soils
  • Min. temperature
    crop temperature icon
    3-5 °C
  • pH
    Permanent Grassland crop pH value
    5.0 – 6.2
  • Water demand
    Permanent Grassland crop rainfall value
    > 800l/m2, good distribution important
  • Vernalisation
    Permanent Grassland crop vernalisation
  • Plant density
    crop density
    25 – 35 kg/ha for new plantings
  • Seeding Depth
    crop seeding depth
Permanent Grassland
Grassland provides the basis for basic fodder supply of ruminants. The soil properties, climatic conditions, altitude, species composition and management influence the yield potential of grassland. Therefore, the management has to consider the site-specific characteristics to maintain a good turf. The number of cuts determines the yield. Whereas meadows in mountainous regions are cut two to three times a season, meadows in favourable locations, and in years with high precipitation, can be cut five to six times. Forage cropping with clover grass, lucerne and red clover is particularly important in dryer regions.
Key facts
  • Grassland needs a good rainfall distribution for high yield potentials.

  • In addition to nitrogen, an adequate fertilization with sulphur is necessary at high yield levels.

  • Phosphorus and potassium fertilization is based on withdrawal by the harvests.

  • Organic fertilization, biological nitrogen fixation, and organic matter provide significant amounts of nitrogen.

General Information
General Information
Nutrient demand
Nutrient demand
Fertilization
Fertilization
Growing Conditions

The amount and distribution of rainfall is essential for grassland. For good growth, grassland needs a minimum of 800 mm annual precipitation. On the other hand, too much and too frequent rain impedes fodder conservation. 

The plants in grassland should have high protein and energy contents, to ensure a good nutrition for the animals. The protein and energy content is particularly high in clover and grasses in young development stages. Therefore, the ideal timing for the cuts compromise between nutritional value and yield (biomass). In addition to the optimum timing of the cuts the following factors are important: correct fertilization, regular reseeding, harvesting technologies should all be considered as well as avoiding soil compaction and reducing rodent activity is important to achieve high yields.

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Recycling of nutrients in the form of organic fertilizers is particularly important in grassland. High yielding grassland needs fertilization based on nutrient withdrawal by the yields. If the nutrient provision does not balance the removed nutrients, plants like the rough meadow grass or creeping bentgrass can become a severe problem by displacing valuable fodder grasses. They also reduce the efficiency of organic fertilizers and increase gaseous nitrogen (NH3) losses. 
An optimal plant nutrition guide would include liming, provision of phosphorus along with supplementary fertilization with nitrogen and sulphur. 
The ammonium contained in slurry can have a negative impact on legumes.
Liming prevents low pH values and provides calcium and magnesium. The nitrogen and potassium demand is high at high yields (250 to 300 kg N/ha). The N/SO3 ratio should be 5:1.
Demand and extraction quantities of grassland (kg/ha dry mass)

Element

Uptake

(Unit/t of production)

Removal

(Unit/t of production)

Sensitivity to deficiency

N

15-25

15-25

Sensitive

P₂O₅

5 - 9

5 - 9

Moderately Sensitive

K₂O

19-34

19-34

Moderately Sensitive

MgO

4,5

4,5

Moderately Sensitive

SO₃

3

3

Sensitive

TE

The table shows uptake and removal per tonne of dry mass. A yield of 12 tonnes removes 240 kg N (at 12.5% protein), 120 kg P2O5, 369 kg K2O, and 40 kg MgO per hectare.
Nitrogen fertilization

The nitrogen demand is based on the number of cuts, the yield potential and protein content of the meadow. Two cuts with a yield of 5.5 tonnes dry matter and a protein content of 11.4% need 100 kg N/ha (18 kg N/t DM yield). A yield of 11 tonnes (5 cuts) with 17.5% protein has a nitrogen demand of 310 kg N/ha (28 kg/t DM yield). The nitrogen provision by mineralization or organic matter and biological nitrogen fixation by legumes needs to be deducted to quantify the nitrogen fertilization requirement.

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Basal fertilization

Basal fertilization image

Allocation of nutrient doses

Allocation of nutrient doses image

Basal fertilization

Phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and sulphur fertilization should be based on withdrawal by the yields and corrected according to the soil nutrient content. Here too, the site-specific yield potential and the content of plant available nutrients in the soil is important. A balanced mineral nutrition is also important for the health of the animals. Depending on use intensity, the withdrawal of grassland is 5 to 9 kg phosphorus (P2O5) and 19 to 34 kg potassium oxide (K2O) per tonne dry matter. Five cuts and a yield of 10 tonnes per hectare remove 85 kg P2O5 and 320 kg K2O.
Adequate liming is important to avoid low pH values reducing phosphorus availability in soil. The calcium is also important for legumes. 
The higher the yield potential, the more likely sulphur becomes a limiting factor. Sulphur increases nitrogen use efficiency and thus yields at high use intensities. 
A deficiency of micronutrients is rather seldom due to the frequent use of organic fertilizers. However, organic (bog) soils or light mineral soils have naturally low contents of micronutrients. A high pH value can also favour deficiencies as the plant availability of most micronutrients decreases with increasing pH.

Allocation of nutrient doses

Fertilization is commonly done after each cut. Usually the first cuts are yielding more and need therefore more nutrients. In particular, nitrogen should not be limiting for the first growths.