Herbage from a grass-white clover sward was dried in the field to the hay stage (< 0·3 g moisture/g dry matter) at four times of year in 2 years comparing, in each case, all combinations of three stages of maturity, three levels of applied nitrogen and three thicknesses of swath; 35, 55 and 75 days' regrowth, 0, 75 and 150 kg N/ha and, on average, 220, 474 and 728 g herbage dry matter/m2 were compared.
The least mature herbage had the highest moisture content at the time of cutting and dried most quickly at a given swath thickness, being slightly drier than the more mature herbage at the hay stage. At the cuts in late May-early June and late Juneearly July, when the crop was predominantly grass, the application of nitrogen increased both the moisture content at the time of cutting and the initial rate of drying at a given swatli thickness, so that in the middle and later stages of drying there was no effect of applied N on moisture content. At the cuts in early and late August, herbage from the plots that had received no applied N, which contained a substantial amount of white clover, had the highest moisture content at the time of cutting, dried fastest at a given swath thickness and had the lowest moisture content in the later stages of drying. In the very early stages of drying, herbage in a thin swath lost water much faster than herbage in a thick swath, but subsequently the rate of drying was consistently faster in a thick than in a thin swath so that, by the hay stage, herbage in a tick swath was at least as dry as herbage in a thin swath. There was almost no interaction between the different types, of treatment.
Rain during the drying period had little or no effect on the nitrogen content of the crop, but reduced digestibility by about 9 units. Stage of maturity and swath thickness did not affect the extent of this reduction in digestibility.