The value to merino ewes and lambs of continued superphosphate topdressing on a subterranean clover pasture ley
In an experiment at the Agricultural Research Station, Temora, New South Wales, Merino breeding ewes with their lambs grazed continuously from 1966 to 1970 at three stocking rates, 5, 7.5 and 10 ewes ha-1, on annual Trifolium subterraneum clover pasture topdressed every autumn with superphosphate fertilizer at nil, 94 or 188 kg ha-1. Stocking rate had an effect on ewe body weight in autumn each year and in winter and spring of the last year but it had no effect no wool production per ewe. Apart from the dry year, stocking rate had no effect on lamb performance. Superphosphate had little effect on ewe body weight and none on wool production but there were more lambs on the fertilized treatments than on the unfertilized pastures in 1967 when rainfall was low. Fertilizer encouraged barley grass dominance whereas the pasture not topdressed grew more clover and produced more burr. With no topdressing, available soil phosphate declined steadily over the five years to less than half the initial level. The results indicate that in a spring lambing, Merino ewe enterprise in the southern New South Wales wheat belt, where clover-ley farming is the general practice, annual pasture topdressing is no longer necessary after approximately 1000 kg ha-1 superphosphate has been applied to the soil and the fertilizer is continued through the cropping phase.
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