Response of annual pastures to applications of limestone in the high rainfall areas of south-western Australia

Michael Bolland, D.G. Allen, Z. Rengel

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The yield response of long-term pastures growing on acidified soil to applications of limestone (0, 2.5, 5.0, 7.5 and 10.0 t/ha with adequate magnesium fertiliser, and 0 and 5 t/ha with no magnesium fertiliser) was measured in 5 field experiments on different representative soils of the high rainfall areas of south-western Australia. After application, limestone was incorporated 1 cm deep in 3 experiments, 3 cm deep in 1 experiment, and 7 cm in another experiment. The pastures comprised subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum), and annual and Italian ryegrass (Lolium rigidum and L. multiflorum), the dominant species found in intensively grazed dairy and beef pastures of the region. Yields were measured when ryegrass plants had 3 leaves per tiller, which is when pastures in the region are grazed to maximise utilisation by cattle.Subsoil acidity was a problem at 4 of the 5 sites, and was so severe at 1 site that, despite having the lowest soil pH to 50 cm depth, there was no yield response to limestone incorporated to 3 cm deep. Applications of fertiliser magnesium had no significant effect on pasture production, soil pH, aluminium and manganese, or concentration of magnesium in dried herbage in any of the 5 experiments. Increasing amounts of limestone consistently: (i) increased soil pH, by between 1–2 pH units in the top 5 cm of soil, and 0.5–1.0 of a pH unit in the 5–10 cm soil profile; and (ii) decreased, by up to 84–98%, the amount of exchangeable aluminium in the 0–5 and 5–10 cm soil profiles. During 3 years (1998–2000) there were: (i) no yield responses to limestone for a total of 9 assessments on a sand, or 11 assessments on a sandy gravel; (ii) 2 significant (P
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-937
JournalAnimal Production Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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