The effects of irrigation, nitrogen fertilizer, cutting three or six times per year and a combined pesticide treatment that included aldicarb, phorate, benomyl and methiocarb on ryegrass (Lolium perenne) cv. S.23, either alone or in mixtures with white clover (Trifolium repens) cvs S.I00 or Blanca, and on lucerne (Medicago sativa) cv. Vertus grown on a silty clay–loam at Rothamsted and a sandy loam at Woburn were studied in 1977–81.
Benefits from irrigation were greater for six-cut than three-cut swards, with pesticides than without, for ryegrass with clover S. 100 than ryegrass with Blanca and at Woburnthan at Rothamsted. Lucerne did not benefit.
Responses of ryegrass to fertilizer N were best fitted by the model y = a + b/1+cx+dx2; and those of ryegrass–clover by the model y = a+bx (where y = yield, x = amount of N; a, b, c and d are constants). Without N, yields of ryegrass–Blanca clover mixtures considerably exceeded those of ryegrass–S.100. The former gave yields equivalent to those of ryegrass given 270 kg N/ha at Rothamsted and 330 kg N/ha at Woburn.
Lucerne without irrigation, N or pesticides gave yields in excess of all other unirrigated crops, even when these received pesticides and maximum N. Yields from three cuts of ryegrass greatly exceeded those from six cuts but yields of ryegrass–Blanca were greater from the six-cut regime.
Pesticides substantially improved the yields of ryegrass and clover, whether grown separately or mixed, but not those of lucerne. Pesticides not only controlled pests and diseases but also increased the incidence of vesicular–arbuscular mycorrhizas. The relative magnitude of yields of the different swards at the two sites differed, depending on treatment with irrigation, N fertilizer and pesticides. Differences between sites were removed or reversed by appropriate combinations of treatments.
Ryegrass–Blanca given no N fertilizer and cut six times removed 300 kg N/ha, an amount that was increased by irrigation and decreased by less frequent cutting; ryegrass–S.100 clover contained less N. Removals of P and K. often exceeded 35 and 300 kg/ha, respectively, each year. Herbage containing Blanca clover had much more Ca than that containing S.100 but at comparable yields all swards contained similar amounts of Mg.