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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, Diriba B.; Lovatt, J. Alan; Graham, Neil S.; Palmer, Sarah; Hayden, Rory; Wilson, Lolita; Young, Scott D.; Lark, R. Murray; Penrose, Beth; Ander, E. Louise; Thompson, Russell; Jiang, Lin-Xi; Broadley, Martin R.

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


J. Alan Lovatt

Senior Research Fellow

Sarah Palmer

Rory Hayden

Lolita Wilson

Scott D. Young

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Professor of Geoinformatics

Beth Penrose

Principal Research Fellow

Russell Thompson

Lin-Xi Jiang


© 2019, The Author(s). 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 (0–1500μM 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 (0–200kgha−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.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 14, 2019
Online Publication Date Dec 2, 2019
Publication Date 2020-12
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2019
Publicly Available Date Dec 3, 2019
Journal Plant and Soil
Print ISSN 0032-079X
Electronic ISSN 1573-5036
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 457
Pages 25–41
Keywords Plant Science; Soil Science
Public URL
Additional Information Received: 15 July 2019; Accepted: 14 October 2019; First Online: 2 December 2019


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