Phosphorus content of the soil influences the growth and productivity of Themeda triandra Forssk. and Microlaena stipoides (Labill.) R.Br.

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Journal Article
Rangeland Journal, 2014, 36 (3), pp. 233 - 237
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Despite native grasses occupying a large area of land in Australia, there has been limited work on the responses of these species to the addition of phosphorus (P). The main objective of this study was to investigate the effect of the addition of P to create a range of P contents in the soil on the productivity and morphology of two native grasses at two times of harvests. Two contrasting perennial native grasses, namely kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra Forssk. syn. T. australis R. Br. Stapf) and weeping grass [Microlaena stipoides var. stipoides (Labill.) R. Br.] were grown in a glasshouse with the addition of P to create five contents of P in the soil (7, 17, 32, 107 and 307mgkg-1 soil) using a completely randomised design with four replicates per treatment. Grasses were harvested to 5cm above the substrate surface, and the number of tillers and leaf area were recorded on Day 84 (harvest 1) and Day 112 (harvest 2) of the experiment. Dry matter production for kangaroo and weeping grass increased with P contents of the soil of 32mg and ≥107mgPkg-1 soil, respectively. Increased dry matter production for both species was the result of increased leaf area, tiller number and root growth. These results provide data that help to understand the disappearance sequence of kangaroo grass from more fertile soils and an increase in weeping grass, particularly in soils with greater fertility. Further research is required to determine if these results hold for other grass ecotypes. © Australian Rangeland Society 2014.
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