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Influence of management regime and harvest date on the forage quality of rangelands plants: the importance of dry matter content

Bumb I., Garnier E., Bastianelli D., Richarte J., Bonnal L., Kazakou E.. 2016. AoB Plants, 8 : 15 p..

In spite of their recognized ecological value, relatively little is known about the nutritional value of species-rich rangelands for herbivores. We investigated the sources of variation in dry matter digestibility (DMD), neutral detergent fibre content (NDF) and nitrogen concentration (NC) in plants from species-rich Mediterranean rangelands in southern France, and tested whether the dry matter content (DMC) was a good predictor of the forage quality of different plant parts. Sixteen plant species with contrasting growth forms (rosette, tussock, extensive and stemmed-herb) were studied, representative of two management regimes imposed in these rangelands: (i) fertilization and intensive grazing and (ii) non-fertilization and moderate grazing. Among the 16 plant species, four species were found in both treatments, allowing us to assess the intraspecific variability in forage quality and DMC across the treatments. The components of nutritional value (DMD, NDF and NC) as well as the DMC of leaves, stems and reproductive plant parts, were assessed at the beginning of the growing season and at peak standing biomass. All components of nutritional value and DMC were affected by species growth form: rosettes had higher DMD and NC than tussocks; the reverse being found for NDF and DMC. As the season progressed, DMD and NC of the different plant parts decreased while NDF and DMC increased for all species. DMC was negatively related to DMD and NC and positively to NDF, regardless of the source of variation (species, harvest date, management regime or plant part). Path analysis indicated that NDF was the main determinant of DMD. Better assessment of forage quality in species-rich systems requires consideration of their growth form composition. DMC of all plant parts, which is closely related to NDF, emerged as a good predictor and easily measured trait to estimate DMD in these species-rich systems. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : région méditerranéenne; france

Thématique : Alimentation animale; Physiologie et biochimie végétales

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