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Research article2013Peer reviewed

Micronutrient concentrations in common and novel forage species and varieties grown on two contrasting soils

Lindström, Bodil; Frankow-Lindberg, Bodil; Dahlin, Sigrun; Wivstad, Maria; Watson, Christine


We investigated differences between forage species with regard to micronutrients that are essential to sustain livestock health. Five grasses (timothy, perennial ryegrass, meadow fescue, tall fescue and cocksfoot), three legumes (red clover, white clover and birdsfoot trefoil) and four forbs (ribwort plantain, salad burnet, caraway and chicory) were grown on one micronutrient-poor/low pH soil and one micronutrient-rich/high pH soil (outdoor pot experiment). In addition, six grasses (timothy, perennial ryegrass, meadow fescue, tall fescue, Festulolium hybrid and cocksfoot) and one legume (red clover) were field-grown on the micronutrient-poor soil. Of the twelve pot-grown species, herbage of chicory, red clover and white clover generally had the highest micronutrient concentrations (maximum Co, Cu, Fe and Zn concentrations were 0.23, 9.8, 233 and 109 mg kg(-1) DM, respectively), except for Mo, which was highest in the clovers (10.6 mg kg(-1) DM), and Mn, which was highest in cocksfoot (375 mg kg(-1) DM). Soil type had the strongest effect on plant Mo and Mn concentrations. We also investigated differences in micronutrients between varieties, but they were generally few and negligible. The results indicate that choice of forage species is of major importance for micronutrient concentrations in herbage and that soil type exerts a major effect through pH. Forage of chicory, red clover and white clover generally met the requirements of high-yielding dairy cows with regard to most micronutrients; therefore, diversification of seed mixtures so as to include these species could increase micronutrient concentrations in forage.


grasses; legumes; forbs; soil type; Sweden; organic farming; herbs; trace elements

Published in

Grass and Forage Science
2013, Volume: 68, number: 3, pages: 427-436