Production and physiological responses of Italian ryegrass and white clover grown in mono cultures and mixed stands.
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The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that ryegrass and clover, when grown under optimal conditions in mixed stands, interact in response to available light energy. with other resources non-limiting, pasture yield is determined by the efficiency with which solar radiation is intercepted by canopies and converted into dry matter. The clover-ryegrass interaction under varying light regimes, as experienced in the canopies of these pastures, was studied by investigating the growth and production of ryegrass and clover in relation to light harvesting abilities and photosynthetic utilization of intercepted light. Pasture canopy structure and growth were studied under a four-weekly clipping treatment. The interception of photon flux density (PFD) in the pasture canopy was monitored diurnally and seasonally in mixed and mono cultures. Light use efficiency (C02 fixed/ unit absorbed PFD) as well as photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) were studied by monitoring CO2 assimilation rates and chlorophyll fluorescence respectively. The results obtained from this study indicated that interaction did occur between ryegrass and clover, cultivated in mixed pastures. The mixture was capable of more efficient light interception than the mono cultures, which resulted in higher productivity. Light interception abilities, as manifested in canopy architecture, and not physiological utilization of light energy, were found to govern the interaction between the two pasture components.