Empirical models to quantify the nutritive characteristics of annual pastures in south-west Western Australia
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The objective of this paper is to quantify the magnitude of the major sources of variation, which affect in vitro digestibility (DMD) and concentrations of neutral detergent fibre (NDF), acid detergent fibre (ADF), and crude protein (CP) of annual pastures in Mediterranean-type climate zones. Four experiments were conducted in the south-west of Western Australia in 2006–07 and 2007–08, where the supply of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, or sulfur and pasture types were varied. Effects of seasonality, fertiliser application, pasture type, and site were analysed with an auto-regression maximum likelihood procedure. Temperature sum was used to explain the seasonal differences in DMD, CP, NDF, and ADF. Seasonality explained 82, 79, 79, and 62% of the total variation in DMD, NDF, ADF, and CP, respectively, with only an additional 5, 5, 6, and 24% being explained by the combined effects of site/management, fertiliser application, and pasture type.The differences in DMD, NDF, ADF, and CP, between sites, were 2.3–6.0%, 4.6–18.7%, 5.8–8.6%, and 1.5–17.4%, respectively. Pasture types differed by 6.6–9.5%, 9.0–11.4%, 3.1–6.1%, and 5.1–5.2% for DMD, NDF, ADF, and CP, respectively. The differences between sites and pasture types were markedly larger for CP, NDF, and ADF than for DMD. Fertiliser application did not affect nutritive characteristics, with the exception of N application rates on CP. It was concluded that the seasonality model captured nearly all of the temporal variation in DMD, NDF, and ADF but not in CP. The spatial variation in DMD was mostly determined by pasture type. By comparison, NDF and ADF were most strongly affected by grazing management, and CP by the availability of N.
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