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Physiological characteristics and forage accumulation of grazed Marandu palisade grass (Brachiaria brizantha) growing in monoculture and in silvopasture with Eucalyptus urograndis

do Nascimento, H. L. B., Pedreira, B. C., Sollenberger, L. E., Pereira, D. H., Magalhães, C. A. de S., Chizzotti, F. H. M.
Crop & pasture science 2019 v.70 no.4 pp. 384-394
Eucalyptus, Urochloa brizantha, canopy, cattle, cattle production, ecosystems, forage, grasses, groves, leaves, pastures, photosynthetically active radiation, silvopastoral systems, stocking rate, stomatal conductance, temperature, trees, water use efficiency, Amazonia, Brazil
Adoption of silvopasture is increasing, but proper design and management of pasture–tree associations is required to sustain pasture productivity. Our objective was to compare agronomic and physiological characteristics of Brachiaria brizantha (Hochst. Ex A.Rich.) Stapf. (palisade grass) cv. Marandu growing in monoculture, or in silvopasture with Eucalyptus urograndis, in the Brazilian Amazon biome. Trees were planted in triple rows (intra-row spacing 3 m, inter-row spacing 3.5 m), referred to as a grove, with three groves per 2-ha silvopasture experimental unit. Space between groves was 30 m, and tree density was 270 ha-1. From October 2015 to September 2016, all experimental units were stocked continuously with cattle by using a variable stocking rate to maintain a Marandu canopy height of 30 cm. In the silvopasture, sampling occurred at 4, 7.5 and 15 m into the non-treed area from the outer tree row in a grove. Photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) reaching the Marandu canopy averaged 21% less for silvopasture than for grass monoculture; however, forage accumulation was not different between systems, nor were Marandu stomatal conductance, water-use efficiency (WUE), transpiration rate, transpiration ratio and leaf temperature. In silvopasture, PAR and forage accumulation were 33% and 29% less, respectively, at the 4-m distance than the 15-m distance from the edge row of trees, associated with lower transpiration rate and transpiration rate and greater WUE. We conclude that Marandu palisade grass can tolerate PAR reduction in silvopasture up to ~20% without reduction in forage accumulation, supporting its potential use in agroforestry systems for cattle production in the Brazilian Amazon Biome.