Lotus tenuis Seedling Establishment and Biomass Production in Flooding Pampa Grasslands (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Osvaldo R. Vignolio1* and Osvaldo N. Fernández1

Biomass and plant density of Lotus tenuis Waldst. & Kit. ex Willd. have been reported in decreasing in grasslands and pastures. Our objective was to determine if L. tenuis biomass and plant density can be increased in grassland through seed addition. Two separated experiments under cattle grazing exclusion were conducted in three paddocks of a Flooding Pampa grassland. The first experiment was from autumn 2004 to autumn 2006 and the second from autumn 2005 to autumn 2007. Different L. tenuis seed additions (0, 57, 229, 917 and 1833 seeds m-²) were broadcast into experimental plots. In the second experiment, besides seed additions there was a reseeding of approximately 900 seed m-2 from seed rain produced by plants of grassland. Seed density explained the 81% and 19% of the variation in seedling density and L. tenuis biomass, respectively. Seedling emergence occurred mainly between autumn and early spring, while seedling mortality was mainly between late spring and early summer. Lotus tenuis adult plant density and biomass production increased with seed additions. Total biomass production in the plant community varied between 589.94 ± 26.89 and 1042.44 ± 54.39 g m-2 yr-1 and the differences were principally attributed to precipitations. Lotus tenuis biomass contribution was of approximately 10%. The results suggest that L. tenuis seedling and plant establishment and biomass production can be increased through seed addition and/or seed rain through grazing exclusion during reproductive period.

Keywords: legume, forage quality, population attributes, seedling mortality, seed addition.
1Unidad Integrada Balcarce (Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Estación Experimental Agropecuaria Balcarce), CC 276, 7620 Balcarce, Argentina. *Corresponding author (ovignolio@balcarce.inta.gov.ar).