Legume and Grasse Response to Activated Charcoal and Broiler Litter: 2. Root nodulation and Forage Removal by Grazing Animals


  • Lauren Borst


Four legumes (white clover, Will ladino clover, red clover and crimson clover) and three grasses (tall fescue, ryegrass and orchardgrass) were planted on a prepared seedbed with fertility treatments of 0/ control, b4 tons/acre biochar, and either 4 or 8 tons/ ac of broiler litter. Plant growth observations were taken in 2018 at 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 11 weeks post-planting. Yield results through Week 9 were reported last year with growth of 0/ control the least, biochar slightly higher, but a graded response to 4 and then 8 tons broiler litter/acre. At 14 weeks post-planting, representative clover plants were dug up, roots thoroughly washed, and the number of nodules per plant counted. Nodules “fix” atmospheric nitrogen, with more nodulation related to higher forage production. Root nodulation tended to be highest for white and red clover, and lowest for Will ladino. Increasing levels of broiler litter generally caused less root nodulation, apparently causing the legumes to be “lazy” and use the available nitrogen rather than manufacturing their own. There was little to no positive response to biochar. Seemingly, clover perform “best” season-long if encouraged to produce their own root nodules rather than supplying external nitrogen as fertilizers. Following completion of the production data, cattle were given access to the plots for two days, and removal rates estimated. Highest removal rates / voluntary consumption by cattle was highest for all clovers and for tall fescue, and lowest/ least preferred for orchardgrass.