Effects of ozone on managed pasture: II. Yield, species composition, canopy structure, and forage quality

Environ Pollut. 1994;86(3):307-14. doi: 10.1016/0269-7491(94)90171-6.


Managed pasture composed of grasses, clover and weeds was exposed in open-top chambers to different levels of ozone (O(3)) during two consecutive seasons to study changes in yield, species composition, canopy structure, and forage quality. The pasture was established in 1990 and exposed in 1991 and 1992. Ozone treatments included charcoal-filtered air (CF), non-filtered air (NF), and two treatments with O(3) added to NF air during periods with global radiation >/= 400 W m(-2) (NF(+), NF(++)). The ratio between the 2-year cumulative, radiation-weighted O(3) concentration in ambient air (= 365 microl litre(-1) h) and in the different treatments was 0.50 (CF), 0.85 (NF), 1.11 (NF(+)), and 1.64 (NF(++)). Plots were harvested four times in 1991, and five times in 1992. The total forage yield for both seasons was modified little by O(3). The yield reduction in NF(++) was only 10% as compared to the CF treatment. Also, only marginal changes were observed in forage quality (Ca, crude protein, crude fibre), and in leaf area index and fractional light penetration. Ozone strongly reduced the yield of clover (Trifolium repens L. and Trifolium pratense L.). The O(3)-effect on clover growth was small after the first harvest and increased with each growth period. In NF, the 2-year cumulative clover yield was reduced by 24% relative to CF. In NF(++), clover growth almost ceased near the end of the second season. The reduction in clover yield with increasing O(3) was associated with a slight increase in the yield of grasses (mainly Dacytlis glomerata L). The increase in the proportion of invading species (weeds or herbs) (Taraxacum officinale L.) during the experiment was not significantly affected by O(3). A second order polynomial function was fitted to the data to establish an exposure-response model for the cumulative clover yield and the cumulative, radiation-weighted O(3) dose, and linear models were developed for total forage mass, grass yield and yield of weeds. Reducing O(3) from elevated levels (NF(+) and NF(++)) during the first season to near-ambient levels (NF) during the second season resulted in a significant recovery of clover yield after two re-growth periods. It is concluded that continuous exposure to ambient levels of O(3) negatively affects the yield of clover in frequently cut, managed pasture, but because of the relatively small proportion of clover, the shift in species composition only marginally affects total forage yield and forage quality. It is emphasised, however, that limitations of the experimental system must be taken into account before extrapolations to real field situations can be made.