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Magnesium biofortification of Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum L.) via agronomy and breeding as a potential way to reduce grass tetany in grazing ruminants


Kumssa, DB and Lovatt, JA and Graham, NS and Palmer, S and Hayden, R and Wilson, L and Young, SD and Lark, RM and Penrose, B and Ander, EL and Thompson, R and Jiang, LX and Broadley, MR, Magnesium biofortification of Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum L.) via agronomy and breeding as a potential way to reduce grass tetany in grazing ruminants, Plant and Soil pp. 1-17. ISSN 0032-079X (2019) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright 2019 the authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1007/s11104-019-04337-x


Aim: Magnesium (Mg) deficiency (known as grass tetany) is a serious metabolic disorder that affects grazing ruminants. We tested whether Mg-fertiliser can increase Mg concentration of Italian ryegrasses (Lolium multiflorum L.) including a cultivar (cv. Bb2067; ‘Magnet’), bred to accumulate larger concentrations of Mg.

Methods: Under controlled environment (CE) conditions, three cultivars (cv. Bb2067, cv. Bb2068, cv. RvP) were grown in low-nutrient compost at six fertiliser rates (0–1500 μM MgCl2.6H2O). Under field conditions, the three cultivars in the CE condition and cv. Alamo were grown at two sites, and four rates of MgSO4 fertiliser application rates (0–200 kg ha−1 MgO). Multiple grass cuts were taken over two-years.

Results: Grass Mg concentration increased with increasing Mg-fertiliser application rates in all cultivars and conditions. Under field conditions, cv. Bb2067 had 11–73% greater grass Mg concentration and smaller forage tetany index (FTI) than other cultivars across the Mg-fertiliser application rates, sites and cuts. Grass dry matter (DM) yield of cv. Bb2067 was significantly (p < 0.05) smaller than cv. Alamo. The effect of Mg-fertiliser rate on DM yield was not significant (p ≥ 0.05).

Conclusions: Biofortification of grass with Mg through breeding and agronomy can improve the forage Mg concentration for grazing ruminants, even in high-growth spring grass conditions when hypomagnesaemia is most prevalent. Response to agronomic biofortification varied with cultivar, Mg-fertiliser rate, site and weather. The cost:benefit of these approaches and farmer acceptability, and the impact on cattle and sheep grazing on grasses biofortified with Mg requires further investigation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:hypomagnesaemia, deficiency, magnesium, biofortification, nutrition
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Animal production
Research Field:Animal nutrition
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Livestock raising
Objective Field:Beef cattle
UTAS Author:Penrose, B (Dr Beth Penrose)
ID Code:136538
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Agriculture and Food Systems
Deposited On:2020-01-06
Last Modified:2020-05-25
Downloads:17 View Download Statistics

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