Effects of ribwort plantain on agronomy, biodiversity, animal health and behaviour — a grazing study

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Abstract

This exploratory study investigates the effects of including ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata, PL) on mineral content of the sward, soil structure, earthworms, number of flying insects, animal health, burden of intestinal parasites and cow behaviour during grazing. The experiment was carried out in two periods in 2021, namely in June/July and September/October. In both periods, the study involved four randomized groups consisting of eight pregnant heifers in a full-time grazing system. Two groups grazed on a mixture of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne, LP) with approximately 20% PL (LP-PL), while the other two groups grazed on a monoculture of LP. Over the study period (between June and October) the share of PL decreased from 21% to 15%. Herbage calcium, zinc, and copper concentrations were significantly (P<0.05) higher on LP-PL than on LP. The proportion of young roots and the earthworm biomass were significantly (P<0.05) higher for LP-PL than LP. There was no significant treatment effect on the abundance and diversity of aerial insects. Heifers showed statistically insignificant increased grazing time on LP-PL. Compared to LP, heifers grazing on LP-PL recorded significantly shorter rumination time (P<0.01). In September/October, the percentage of nematode egg shedding heifers was lower for LP-PL (12.5%) compared to LP (50%). Overall, while challenges in maintaining PL share were evident, this explanatory study suggests potential agronomic, nutritional and animal health benefits associated with LP-PL grazing, emphasizing the complexity of factors influencing pasture dynamics and animal behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhy grasslands?
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 30th General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation Leeuwarden, the Netherlands 9-13 June 2024
EditorsC.W. Klootwijk, M. Bruinenberg, M. Cougnon, N.J. Hoekstra, R. Ripoll-Bosch, S. Schelfhout, R.L.M. Schils, T. Vanden Nest, N. van Eekeren, W. Voskamp-Harkema, A. van den Pol-van Dasselaar
Place of PublicationLeiden
PublisherBrill
Pages286-288
ISBN (Electronic)9789090384948
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Event30th General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation (EGF2024): Why grasslands? - Leeuwarden, Netherlands
Duration: 9 Jun 202413 Jun 2024

Publication series

NameGrassland Science in Europe
Volume29

Conference

Conference30th General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation (EGF2024)
Country/TerritoryNetherlands
CityLeeuwarden
Period9/06/2413/06/24

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