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Title: Seed yield potential, forage yield and quality attributes of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) under various management practices
Authors: Ahmad, Jamshaid
Keywords: Applied Sciences
Agriculture & related technologies
Issue Date: 2015
Abstract: Cutting frequency, a critical factor influencing harvested forage yield, nutritive quality of forage and stand persistence, is normally linked with the time of flowering. This represents a significant changeable factor among quantity, quality, and length of the alfalfa crop. Furthermore, these factors are strongly correlated to the environmental situation and agronomic practices. A study was conducted to investigate the seed and forage yield potential of alfalfa under different cutting schedule, seeding rats and sowing methods. During this study one field and one pot experiment was carried out at the Agronomic Research Area, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, during the growing seasons of 2011-12 and 2012-13. In field experiment three cutting schedules (28, 35 and 42 day’s interval) along with three seeding rates (10, 15 and 20 kg ha-1) and four sowing methods (Broadcasting, 30, 45 and 60 cm apart rows) were evaluated. After the removal of first forage cutting 70 days after sowing (DAS), next alfalfa cutting was done at 28, 35 and 42 days interval for 2nd and 3rd cuts. After taking three forage cuts the alfalfa crop was left for seed production. Results of the field experiment showed that with Plant height, fresh and dry weight of alfalfa increased with longer cutting schedule of 42 days interval (C3), lower seeding rates 10 kg ha-1 and wider row spacing (60 cm). Moreover, number of stems m-2, fresh and dry matter yields ha-1 was higher with longer cutting schedule (42 days interval), higher seeding rates and narrow row spacing. Among quality parameters crude protein (CP), relative feed value (RFV) and total digestible nutrients (TDN) was higher with shorter cutting interval, higher seeding rate and narrow row spacing. However crude fibre (CF), acid detergent fibre (ADF) and neutral detergent fibre (NDF) were decreased with shorter cutting interval, higher seeding rates and narrow row spacing. The 28 days cutting interval when last cutting date for seed production (19 February), lower seeding rates and wider row spacing produced significantly higher racemes m-2, number of seeds per pod-1 and higher seed yield ha-1 compared to all other treatment combinations. Similarly higher pods per raceme were produced by last cutting date (19 February), lower seeding rate and wider row spacing. After collecting seed from field experiment, a second experiment was conducted to evaluate the emergence and vigor of alfalfa seed. Result showed that the seed produced from the plots harvested on 19th February with seeding rate of 10 kg ha-1 sown at 60 cm apart row, plots harvested on 5th March with seeding rates of 10 kg ha-1 sown at 60 cm apart row and the plots harvested on 19 February last forage cut with seeding rate of 15 kg ha-1 sown at 60 cm apart row took less time taken to 50% emergence and mean emergence time while higher emergence index (EI), Energy of emergence (EE) and final emergence percentage (FEP) of alfalfa produced seed over other treatments. Similarly, the seed produced from the plots harvested on 19 February with seeding rate of 10 kg ha-1 sown at 60 cm apart row significantly produced higher shoot length, root length, fresh and dry weight per plant as compared to other treatments. Therefore, using 10 kg ha-1 seeding rate with 60 cm row spacing and left 4th cut for seed production on 19th February proved to be the most economical strategy to achieve maximum forage and seed yields of better quality.
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