Competitive Strategies and Growth of Neighbouring Bromus valdivianus Phil. and Lolium perenne L. Plants Under Water Restriction

Often perennial pastures have to tolerate soil water restriction during summer, which can affect the relative abundance of the most desired species. In the south of Chile, Bromus valdivianus and Lolium perenne are preferred species. The competitiveness of B. valdivianus and L. perenne was evaluated when sown in pots in a glasshouse as monocultures or a mix (50/50 %) with restricted water availability. The water restriction treatments were as follows: 80–85 % field capacity (FC), 45–50 % FC and 20–25 % FC, maintained for 1196 growing degree days. For both species, dry matter (DM) accumulated per plant and per pot decreased similarly with increasing water restriction, but at tiller level, resource allocation differed, for B. valdivianus root growth was accentuated over aerial development, but this was less so for L. perenne. The foliage mass per tiller for B. valdivianus decreased relatively more than that for L. perenne with increasing water restriction. As monocultures, B. valdivianus produced larger tillers than L. perenne, such that B. valdivianus tillers had 2.2 times greater lamina mass, 3.6 times more leaf area and 2.5 times greater root mass than those of L. perenne. However, L. perenne produced a larger number of smaller tillers that enabled foliage, root and total mass at plant level, to be similar to that of B. valdivianus. Within the mixed pasture, L. perenne tiller density increased compared with when grown as a monoculture, but not for B. valdivianus. The results of the study suggested that L. perenne and B. valdivianus have differences in growth strategies that allow them to survive under environmental stress and competition. Competitiveness increased for L. perenne aboveground without water restriction and that for B. valdivianus increased belowground as water restriction was increased.
Multivariate analysis, Pasture stability, Root mass, Sustainability, Tiller density, Tiller size