Two field experiments, at Woolly Hills Farm, County Durham, UK, and a glasshouse experiment were carried out in 1977. Early in the growing season (May-July), a covering of bracken litter increased the number of ryegrass and clover seedlings which became established both in an area where bracken had been removed and where there were developing fronds. In a second experiment (August-October), bracken litter had no effect on seedling establishment in the open. Under the frond canopy, the absence of litter was beneficial to clover establishment. The frond canopy reduced the number of ryegrass seedlings by half compared with the numbers in the open. In the glasshouse, litter caused a small reduction in the numbers of ryegrass and clover seedlings becoming established. The results suggest that litter may be either beneficial because of the prevention of desiccation in dry periods or detrimental, perhaps through allelopathic effects or shading. In terms of the successful establishment of a sown grass and clover sward, it would seem that litter removal by incorporation or burning is more justified in upland hill pastures because of the need to improve soil fertility than because of adverse effects of the litter itself.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)