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Modeling Ecological Responses of Some Forage Legumes in Iran

Authors: M. Keshavarzi


Grasslands of Iran are encountered with a vast desertification and destruction. Some legumes are plants of forage importance with high palatability. Studied legumes in this project are Onobrychis, Medicago sativa (alfalfa) and Trifolium repens. Seeds were cultivated in research field of Kaboutarabad (33 km East of Isfahan, Iran) with an average 80 mm. annual rainfall. Plants were cultivated in a split plot design with 3 replicate and two water treatments (weekly irrigation, and under stress with same amount per 15 days interval). Water entrance to each plots were measured by Partial flow. This project lasted 20 weeks. Destructive samplings (1m2 each time) were done weekly. At each sampling plants were gathered and weighed separately for each vegetative parts. An Area Meter (Vista) was used to measure root surface and leaf area. Total shoot and root fresh and dry weight, leaf area index and soil coverage were evaluated too. Dry weight was achieved in 750c oven after 24 hours. Statgraphic and Harvard Graphic software were used to formulate and demonstrate the parameters curves due to time. Our results show that Trifolium repens has affected 60 % and Medicago sativa 18% by water stress. Onobrychis total fresh weight was reduced 45%. Dry weight or Biomass in alfalfa is not so affected by water shortage. This means that in alfalfa fields we can decrease the irrigation amount and have some how same amount of Biomass. Onobrychis show a drastic decrease in Biomass. The increases in total dry matter due to time in studied plants are formulated. For Trifolium repens if removal or cattle entrance to meadows do not occurred at perfect time, it will decrease the palatability and water content of the shoots. Water stress in a short period could develop the root system in Trifolium repens, but if it last more than this other ecological and soil factors will affect the growth of this plant. Low level of soil water is not so important for studied legume forges. But water shortage affect palatability and water content of aerial parts. Leaf area due to time in studied legumes is formulated. In fact leaf area is decreased by shortage in available water. Higher leaf area means higher forage and biomass production. Medicago and Onobrychis reach to the maximum leaf area sooner than Trifolium and are able to produce an optimum soil cover and inhibit the transpiration of soil water of meadows. Correlation of root surface to Total biomass in studied plants is formulated. Medicago under water stress show a 40% decrease in crown cover while at optimum condition this amount reach to 100%. In order to produce forage in areas without soil erosion Medicago is the best choice even with a shortage in water resources. It is tried to represent the growth simulation of three famous Forage Legumes. By growth simulation farmers and range managers could better decide to choose best plant adapted to water availability without designing different time and labor consuming field experiments.

Keywords: Ecological parameters, Medicago, Onobrychis, Trifolium

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