Patterson J.D.1,2, Herron E.R.2, Mocarska M.2, Gordon A.W.3 and Young G.K.2
1Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Hillsborough, Co Down, BT26 6DR, N. Ireland, United Kingdom; 2AFBI, Loughgall, Co Armagh, BT61 8JB, N. Ireland, UK; 3AFBI, Belfast, Co Antrim, BT9 5PX, N. Ireland, United Kingdom
Species from different functional groups when grown together can produce higher biomass yield compared to the respective monoculture yields of component species, a phenomenon known as overyielding. This paper reports on yield effects from a multi-species sward (MSS) plot study in Northern Ireland and reviews likely explanations of overyielding. Two contrasting seed mixtures were sown in replicated plot trials in 2019, along with their component species as monocultures. NoGrass contained chicory, plantain, white clover and red clover. GrassMix contained tall fescue, cocksfoot, timothy, late heading perennial ryegrass and white clover. NoGrass produced a higher dry matter yield (P<0.05) in 2021 than all of its components, with the exception of the red clover component (12.2 t dry matter (DM) ha-1; red clover 11.2 t DM ha-1). GrassMix also exhibited overyielding for dry matter production compared with its component varieties. Further research is needed to explain this overyielding phenomenon in MSS.
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