Tor Lunnan

Research Scientist

(+47) 406 22 936
tor.lunnan@nibio.no

Place
Løken

Visiting address
Nyhagevegen 35, 2940 Heggenes

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Abstract

Docks (Rumex spp.) are a considerable problem in grassland production worldwide. We investigated how different cultural management techniques affected dock populations during grassland renewal: (I) renewal time, (II) companion crop, (III) false seedbed, (IV) taproot cutting (V), plough skimmer and (VI) ploughing depth. Three factorial split-split plot experiments were carried out in Norway in 2007–2008 (three locations), 2008–2009 (one location) and 2009 (one location). After grassland renewal, more dock plants emerged from seeds than from roots. Summer renewal resulted in more dock seed and root plants than spring renewal. Adding a spring barley companion crop to the grassland crop often reduced dock density and biomass. A false seedbed resulted in 71% fewer dock seed plants following summer renewal, but tended to increase the number of dock plants after spring renewal. In some instances, taproot cutting resulted in less dock biomass, but the effect was weak and inconsistent, and if ploughing was shallow (16 cm) or omitted, it instead increased dock root plant emergence. Fewer root plants emerged after deep ploughing (24 cm) compared to shallow ploughing, and a plough skimmer tended to reduce the number further. We conclude that a competitive companion crop can assist in controlling both dock seed and root plants, but it is more important that the renewal time is favourable to the main crop. Taproot cutting in conjunction with ploughing is not an effective way to reduce dock root plants, but ploughing is more effective if it is deep and a skimmer is used.

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Abstract

1. Increased species diversity promotes ecosystem function; however, the dynamics of multi-speciesgrassland systems over time and their role in sustaining higher yields generated by increased diver-sity are still poorly understood. We investigated the development of species’ relative abundances ingrassland mixtures over 3 years to identify drivers of diversity change and their links to yield diver-sity effects.2. A continental-scale field experiment was conducted at 31 sites using 11 different four-speci esmixtures each sown at two seed abundances. The four species consisted of two grasses and two legumes, of which one was fast establishing and the other temporally persistent. We modelledthe dynamics of the four-species mixtures, and tested associations with diversity effects on yield.3. We found that species’ dynamics were primarily driven by differences in the relative growth rates(RGRs) of competing species, and secondarily by density dependence and climate. The temporallypersistent grass species typically had the highest RGRs and hence became dominant over time. Den-sity dependence sometimes induced stabilising processes on the dominant species and inhibitedshifts to monoculture. Legumes persisted at most sites at low or medium abundances and persistencewas improved at sites with higher annual minimum temperature.4. Significant diver sity effects were present at the majority of sites in all years and the strength ofdiversity effects was improved with higher legume abundance in the previous year. Observed diver-sity effects, when legumes had declined, may be due to (i) important effects of legumes even at lowabundance, (ii) interaction between the two grass species or (iii) a store of N because of previouspresence of legumes.5. Synthesis. Alongside major compositional changes driven by RGR differences , diversity effectswere observed at most sites, albeit at reduced strength as legumes declined. This evidence stronglysupports the sowing of multi-species mixtures that include legumes over the long-standing practiceof sowing grass monocultures. Careful and strategic selection of the identity of the species used inmixtures is suggested to facilitate the maintenance of species diversity and especially persistence oflegumes over tim e, and to preser ve the strength of yield increases associated with diversity.

Abstract

Red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) is normally a short-lived perennial with no vegetative propagation and the number of plants in the field declines rapidly. In organic farming, the amount of clover in the field is decisive for the N2 fixation and yield, the protein content and quality of the forage produced. In Nordland County (66.27°N), there is a farm with some red clover plants in more than 15 years old grassland. In the presented study we examined grassland botanical content and attempted to recognise age of red clover plants. Our hypotheses was 1) that extensive grassland management promotes self-seeding of red clover 2) self-seeding maintaining a desired content of red clover over time. In addition, we tested two harvesting regimes of the first cut for seed maturation and seed quality at two locations in Norway. Red clover plants in old swards showed very high age and a branched root system. Only very few seedlings were found in old sward suggesting that self-seeding was insignificant. Experiments with leaving the grassland after the first cut for seed production of clover failed due to poor seed maturation. Surface seeding of red clover in pure grass plots gave good results, especially with early spring seeding.

Abstract

Herbage yield responses to K fertilizer application are variable in Norwegian grassland. Excessive K application may increase the risk of grass tetany (hypomagnesaemia) and milk fever (hypocalcaemia). We analysed a series of K fertilizer experiments on grassland with respect to their herbage yields and mineral composition. Our results show the importance of native soil K reserves when considering the need for K application. Soils with a high content of acid-soluble K showed no response to K fertilizer application. The critical K content in grass with respect to yield was estimated to be 17.7 g K/kg DM in the first cut and 20.3 kg K/DM in the second cut, while the critical K/N relationship was found to be 0.83 when a maximum yield reduction of 2.5% was used as a criterion. In these trials, soils with a high content of acid-soluble K had the greatest risk of grass tetany and the highest values of cation–anion balance. Application of potassium chloride had little effect on the cation–anion balance, and thereby the risk of milking fever, because there was a corresponding uptake of K and Cl ions.

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Abstract

1. Grassland diversity can support sustainable intensification of grassland production through increased yields, reduced inputs and limited weed invasion. We report the effects of diversity on weed suppression from 3 years of a 31-site continental-scale field experiment. 2. At each site, 15 grassland communities comprising four monocultures and 11 four-species mixtures based on a wide range of species' proportions were sown at two densities and managed by cutting. Forage species were selected according to two crossed functional traits, “method of nitrogen acquisition” and “pattern of temporal development”. 3. Across sites, years and sown densities, annual weed biomass in mixtures and monocultures was 0.5 and 2.0 t DM ha−1 (7% and 33% of total biomass respectively). Over 95% of mixtures had weed biomass lower than the average of monocultures, and in two-thirds of cases, lower than in the most suppressive monoculture (transgressive suppression). Suppression was significantly transgressive for 58% of site-years. Transgressive suppression by mixtures was maintained across years, independent of site productivity. 4. Based on models, average weed biomass in mixture over the whole experiment was 52% less (95% confidence interval: 30%–75%) than in the most suppressive monoculture. Transgressive suppression of weed biomass was significant at each year across all mixtures and for each mixture. 5. Weed biomass was consistently low across all mixtures and years and was in some cases significantly but not largely different from that in the equiproportional mixture. The average variability (standard deviation) of annual weed biomass within a site was much lower for mixtures (0.42) than for monocultures (1.77). 6. Synthesis and applications. Weed invasion can be diminished through a combination of forage species selected for complementarity and persistence traits in systems designed to reduce reliance on fertiliser nitrogen. In this study, effects of diversity on weed suppression were consistently strong across mixtures varying widely in species' proportions and over time. The level of weed biomass did not vary greatly across mixtures varying widely in proportions of sown species. These diversity benefits in intensively managed grasslands are relevant for the sustainable intensification of agriculture and, importantly, are achievable through practical farm-scale actions.

Abstract

A future wetter climate in Northern Europe may increase soil compaction from traffic of heavy machinery. This study investigated the impact of tractor traffic on grassland yield, soil physical properties and penetration resistance in three experimental field trials in Norway; on medium sand at Tjøtta, Nordland, on silty medium sand at Fureneset, Sogn og Fjordane and on silt at Løken, Oppland. The experiments were conducted in a split-plot design with three levels of two wheel-by-wheel passes with tractor traffic after each cut: no traffic, light tractor or heavy tractor on large plots, and three different seed mixtures on small plots. The yield reduction by tractor traffic was 26% at Løken, 4% at Fureneset and 1% at Tjøtta. There was a positive correlation between soil moisture content and yield reduction by traffic. Tractor traffic reduced pore volume and air capacity and increased bulk density, compaction degree and penetration resistance with the largest effect at Løken and the smallest at Tjøtta. There were no statistically significant differences in yield or soil physical properties between light and heavy tractor. The study shows that soil texture and soil moisture content are major factors explaining traffic effects on soil physical properties and grassland yield.

Abstract

Wavy hair-grass (Avenella flexuosa (L.) Drejer; Deschampsia flexuosa (L.) Trin.) is the main pasture species in blueberry mountain birch forest and dwarf birch – blueberry moorland, which cover large parts of outfield pastures in the mountainous region of Southern Norway. Blueberry mountain birch forest with continuous mats of A. flexuosa was fenced in and harvested at different times in the summers of 2014 and 2015. Regrowth was also recorded. The grass from sample plots was dried after harvest, and analyzed for feed quality using NIRS. There were no statistically significant differences in total net energy yield between different harvesting regimes. Grass growth was highest in early summer, and harvesting on 2 July gave about 60% of the seasonal yield. Grass yield in undisturbed population increased until the last harvest (early September). Regrowth after harvest was small at the end of the season, but the growth here corresponded with the growth in undisturbed population. A. flexuosa remained at vegetative stage during the season. The energy value was highest at harvest first in July, and relatively constant at later harvests. The protein concentration declined towards the end of the season.

Abstract

A meta-analysis based on experiments in organically cultivated grasslands in Norway was conducted to quantify the effects of management factors on herbage yield and feed quality. A dataset was collected that included 496 treatment means from experiments in five studies carried out at eight locations with the latitude range of 58.8 to 69.6 N between 1993 and 2010. We tested the effect of harvesting system (two vs. Three cuts annually), plant developmental stage at the first cut, growth period (temperature sum) and the herbage clover proportion. Plant maturity at the first cut and herbage clover proportion explained to a large extent herbage yield and quality of the first cut and annual yield. The timing of the first cut influenced also the yield and herbage quality of the second cut. The analysis confirmed the importance of legumes performance for herbage yield and quality from grasslands in organic production. Estimated annual herbage DM yield harvested at standardized plant development stage and at average clover proportion was 9%higher in the two—compared to the three-cut system. The crude protein concentration and in vitro dry matter digestibility was 17 and 3 % higher and the NDF concentration 7 % lower in the annual herbage from the three-cut than from the twocut system, respectively. The empirical equations developed in this study may be applied to explore different options for grassland management as basis for ration and production planning and in scenario analysis of economic performance of individual and model farms. The equations do also reveal in numeric terms the tradeoffs in management practice between high yields, yield digestibility, NDF and crude protein content in organic forage production relying on red clover N2 fixation as the engine in the system.

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Abstract

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