• Response of a mixed native warm-season grass planting to nitrogen fertilization

      Berg, W. A. (Society for Range Management, 1995-01-01)
      Plant available nitrogen limits production of native warm-season grasses on marginal farmland in the Southern Plains. In this western Oklahoma study, N was applied at 0, 35, 70, or 105 kg N ha-1 yr-1 to a mixed stand of blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis (H.B.K.) Lag. ex Griffiths), sideoats grama (B. curtipendula (Michx.) Torr.), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash), sand bluestem (Andropogon hallii Hack.), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) and indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash). The grass was established on sandy loam soil farmed an estimated 90 years. With near-normal precipitation the first year, production of perennial grasses increased linearly with 26 kg herbage produced kg-1 N applied. In drouth conditions, the second and third years, production averaged 10 kg herbage kg-1 N applied. The fourth and fifth year the stand was not fertilized and residual effects measured. Herbage production increased 10 kg for each kg N applied over the previous 3 years. Blue Grama made up much of this increased herbage production along with warm-season annuals (Panicum capillare L. and Amaranthus retroflexus L.). With increasing N rates the residual N effect increased the proportion of blue grama and decreased the proportion of taller perennial grasses. Thus, N fertilization of mixed native warm-season grass stands established on marginal farmland, typical of stands established on sandier soils under the USDA Conservation Reserve Program, can result in substantial herbage yield increases, however, some of the increased yield may be from weedy species.