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Production of oats, vetch and medic sown alone and in various combinations

Sartaj Khan, E. D. Carter and Sandra Pattison*

Agronomy and Biometry* Departments, Waite Agricultural Research Institute, The Universty of Adelaide, Glen Osmond, South Australia, 5064

While cereal-vetch mixtures are commonly used as forage crops and hay in West Asia and North Africa, these are uncommon in southern Australia. However, there is increasing interest in reassessing various species and cultivars of vetch grown alone or in mixtures to improve the quantity and quality of livestock feed in southern Australia. The work reported here represents part of a field research program to compare the productivity of two tall-growing legumes (snail medic and Popany vetch) each grown in various combinations with oats to assess potential yield and quality.


In June 1988 a drill plot experiment to study the growth patterns, yield and quality of oats and vetch and oats and medic in various combinations was sown on red brown earth soil at the Waite Institute. Seed mixtures of oats (Avena sativa) cv. Coolabah and vetch (Vicia benghalensis) cv. Popany were sown in the following ratios on the basis of seed weight totalling 100kg/ha 0:100, 25:75, 50:50, 75:25, and 100:0. Similar mixtures of Coolabah oats and snail medic (Medicago scutellata) cv. Sava were also sown Single superphosphate @ 240kg/ha was applied at the time of sowing. Plot size was 1.8m x 18m (4 replicates) with a row spacings of 15cm. Establishment counts were made and the first harvest taken 24 days after emergence. Plots were further sampled 53, 81, 109, 138 days after emergence to estimate dry matter production of the pure stands and mixtures.

Results and discussion

The mean dry matter yields of oats, vetch and medic grown in mixtures and pure stands are presented in Table l. Early in the growing season (July to September), no significant difference was observed in the DM yields of these three species whether they were grown as mixed or pure stands. However, later in the season the oats and legume mixtures significantly increased production above that of oats sown alone. While the pure stand of vetch yielded significantly more than the pure stand of oats, the pure stand of medic did not differ significantly from the pure stand of oats. Although there was no significant difference, there was a tendency for a higher total yield in the 25:75 oats-vetch mixture. The reason for this may have been the presence of oats to support the vetch in a vertical position. Dry matter production of medic reached its maximum around 109 days after emergence and then appeared to decline. However, the extremely dry spring undoubtedly reduced the potential yield of all treatments. Research to further evaluate oat-vetch and oat-medic mixtures is continuing.

Table 1. Yield (kgDM/ha) of oats, vetch and medic combinations

O,V and M represent Oats, Vetch and Medic, respectively.
Values in columns not followed by a common letter differ P<0.05.

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