Eragrostis curvula / Weeping Lovegrass – Ermelo / Agpal / Puk 436

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Eragrostis curvula / boer love grass / oulandsgras / weeping love grass (South Africa, USA) / african lovegrass (Australia) / Goats Fodder / Horse Grazing / Cattle Forage / Sheep Grazing!

Eragrostis curvula – Ermelo / Agpal / Puk 436 / boer love grass / oulandsgras / weeping love grass (South Africa, USA) / african lovegrass (Australia)

Sowing Rate: 8kg per hectare.
Planting Time: September to March (Southern Hemisphere.)
Uses/applications:

Eragrostis curvula (Oulandsgras / Weeping Love Grass) is used for summer pastures and haymaking. Also for stabilisation of road verges and terraces, water discharge areas, and banks of earth tanks, and sown in strips for control of wind erosion.

Soil requirements:

Eragrostis curvula (Oulandsgras / Weeping Love Grass) grows on well-drained, acid soils of sandy to loam texture, and with pH from 4.5-7.0. Susceptible to iron deficiency chlorosis on calcareous soils. Optimum pH varies with genotype. Although it can be established on heavy clays, it is less persistent. The extensive root system can exploit depths to 5 m, but it is also adapted to relatively shallow soils (c. 20-50 cm deep). Tolerant of moderate levels of salinity.

Moisture:

Eragrostis curvula (Oulandsgras / Weeping Love Grass) normally grows in areas of low to moderate rainfall, 500-1,000 mm (- 1,200 mm), extending to as low as 300 mm if sown in basins or contour furrows and mulched. It is very drought tolerant (conferta and robusta types generally > curvula types). The horizontal roots can spread to at least 1 metre, filling the surface soil between plants, making it very effective in using light rain and in preventing other plants from establishing. E. curvula does not grow in poorly drained soils and does not tolerate flooding.

Temperature:

The distribution of Eragrostis curvula (Oulandsgras / Weeping Love Grass) extends from near the equator to about 34ºS and from sea level to 3,500 m asl, representing a range in average annual temperature from <14º to about 23ºC. Optimum temperature for growth is between 17 and 32ºC, although it still makes significant growth at 7ºC, and in some genotypes, down to -10ºC. Frost tolerance varies widely, some genotypes going dormant at the first frost (most CH types), while other (e.g., curvula types) remain green and potentially active through the first frosts, but with little active growth. Still other accessions, frequently robusta types, remain active and continue to grow through the first frosts. Winter survival (winter-hardiness) in severely frosted areas varies among genotypes. Those with intermediate growth strategy are usually the most winter-hardy, while those that grow the longest are rarely very winter-hardy. E. curvula has persisted in areas with mean minimum winter temperatures down to -5ºC. Minimum temperature for reliable stand survival of the most winter-hardy cultivars is between -15 and -20ºC (assuming appropriate management).

Light:

Eragrostis curvula (Oulandsgras / Weeping Love Grass) has moderate shade tolerance.

Fire:

Eragrostis curvula (Oulandsgras / Weeping Love Grass) – Prescribed burning is a practical and efficient management tool for maintaining stands. Herbage production and quality, density and uniformity of stand, and pasture utilisation are generally improved by burning.

Fertiliser:

Eragrostis curvula (Oulandsgras / Weeping Love Grass) survives on poor soils, but needs extra nitrogen for high production. In hay crops, potassium may also become necessary. Phosphorus does not seem to be as important as it might be with some of the panicoid grasses. If needed, fertiliser should be added prior to planting, with recommended rates of P and K. Nitrogen may be applied at this time at rate of 10-20 kg/ha, with additional nitrogen applied as top-dressing once seedlings are well established. At the northern extreme of its range in the USA, limited N fertilisation can increase winter survival of curvula types.

Compatibility (with other species):

Eragrostis curvula (Oulandsgras / Weeping Love Grass) competes aggressively, particularly in disturbed situations, and in sandy soils.

Companion species:

Grasses: Bothriochloa ischaemum , Chloris gayana , Cynodon dactylon , Digitaria eriantha, Paspalum nicorae .
Legumes: Aeschynomene falcata , Chamaecrista rotundifolia , Kummerowia stipulacea, Lotononis bainesii , Macroptilium atropurpureum , Medicago sativa, Melilotus spp., Ornithopus pinnatus, Stylosanthes scabra , Trifolium subterraneum, Vicia spp.

Dry matter production:

Eragrostis curvula (Oulandsgras / Weeping Love Grass) – Growing mostly in infertile soils under low rainfall , dry matter yields are generally low at 3-10 t/ha/year. However, in more favourable environments and with adequate nitrogen and sometimes, irrigation, yields of 20-30 t/ha DM are achievable. Yields can be doubled by increasing cutting frequency from 4-8 weeks, and more than doubled through applications of 100-200 kg/ha N.

Animal production:

Eragrostis curvula (Oulandsgras / Weeping Love Grass) – Heifers stocked at about 12/ha have produced a liveweight gain of 550 kg/ha over summer, and sheep 53/ha over 130 days produced a liveweight gain of 160 kg/ha. At lower stocking rates (1.5 steers/ha), animals can gain 0.7-1 kg/day during the growing season . Use of more palatable selections can produce 13% more liveweight gain than on less palatable types. However, where they have been tested, robusta cultivars have not been more productive of animal product than the curvula types, ‘Morpa’ or ‘Ermelo’.

Strengths of Eragrostis curvula:
  • Grows on low-fertility soils
  • Establishes easily
  • Good cold tolerance
  • Valuable in erosion control
  • Drought-hardy
  • Long growing season
Limitations of Eragrostis curvula:
  • Not adapted to heavy clays
  • Nutritive value declines rapidly
  • Can become a weed
  • Intolerant of waterlogging

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