Country Pasture/Forage Resource Profiles

Russian Federation - part II


G. Blagoveshchenskii, V. Popovtsev, Shevtsova, V. Romanenkov, Komarov


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Description of fodder resources

The role of fodder production is increasing in importance in modern Russian agriculture, providing the base for animal husbandry as well as for maintaining soil fertility on arable land, preserving landscapes and biodiversity. Forage is now the main source of livestock feed, accounting for over two thirds of the total. Dynamic growth of forage crops productivity before 1990 was followed by lower harvests and reduction of forage production, especially during the first years of the Perestroika period, and some unsteady stabilisation during the last 3-4 years. (Table 12 percentage of previous year).

Table 12. Fodder making, availability and consumption on agricultural enterprises
Name Unit





      percent   Percent   percent   percent
Dry fodder Thousand tons









Hay Thousand tons









Silage Thousand tons









Feed root Thousand tons









Total roughage feed units Thousand tons









Per cattle units Quintals of feed units









Availability of all fodder in feed units








Per cattle UNITS Quintals of feed units







Availability of all concentrates in feed units







Per cattle UNITS Quintals of feed units







Fodder consumption per 1 Quintal of production
Total feed units Quintal







incl. Concentrates Kg







Unit weight of concentrates percent






Cattle weight gain
Total feed units Quintal







incl. Concentrates Kg







Unit weight of concentrates percent






Pig weight gain
Total feed units Quintal







incl. Concentrates Kg







Unit weight of concentrates percent







The main reasons for forage production decrease on arable land are:

- Decrease of material-technical input level;
- Slowly transformed species composition of forage crops and of plants on arable land structure, typical of rather intensive systems of agricultural production at a rapidly changing level of resources provision.

In the past a significant sown area was occupied by grasses and other forage crops, where productivity was provided by mineral, mainly nitrogen, fertilization. Row crops also occupied large areas. During these years significant reduction of irrigated and improved land occurred, a large part of which had been used for forage production. Reduction of productive agricultural land, including that previously occupied by fodder crops, is also caused by construction of dwellings and social objects, roads and other engineering communications and structures. The main directions to raise and stabilize the increase of forage production on arable land, and improve its quality include: expansion of the area under forage crops in combination with improvement of crop structure with an increase of perennial legume-grass swards in all regions, especially in southern ones, as well as using resource saving technologies.

Fodder production is very important and covers three quarters of all agricultural land. Natural grassland (NG) occupies huge territory - 87,600,000 ha, besides 328,100,000 ha is used for deer grazing. Natural meadows and pastures make up 39.6 percent of agricultural land. Significant areas of arable land (Table 13) are also allocated for fodder production. Now fodder crops occupy 45,900,000 ha.

Table 13. Arable land for foddercrops
Name Million ha percent of total area percent of fodder crops
Total area for fodder crops



Incl. Forage grain







Of which perennial sward




Annual sward




Maize for silage




Other silage




Fodder roots




Natural grassland and perennial swards on arable land provide the cheapest forage for herbivores, containing all complexes of nutritious substances. The cost of perennial forage swards in Russia is 1.5 times less than grain forage and 2-2.5 times less than other tilled fodder crops.

Animal maintenance on pasture is the cheapest system. Fuel and lubricating material expenses are 3 times less, labour - 2.5 times less on pastures in comparison with green chop feeding in stables. Natural grassland is a major source of fodder, medicinal, feed, technical, decorative and other plants. It is a biodiversity bank of most valuable vegetative resources inhabited by relic plants and animals. Grassland vegetation is very important in natural protection. Natural grassland is part of landscape-geochemical barriers in river valleys, lowlands, ravines and other relief depressions. These barriers’ role in environmental protection is increasing. Vegetation of pastures and meadows plays a large anti-erosive role, protecting flood plains and slopes from water and wind erosion in steppe and arid zones. These features are especially important for Russia, where erosion-liable agricultural land makes up about 12,000,000 ha. The direct influence of grassy vegetation on soil fertility is caused by the sod-forming process of meadows and pastures, promoting accumulation of organic matter and fixing of basic nutritious substances in it.

A special advantage of natural grassland and perennial grass on arable land is yield stability over time. So, productivity comparison over 25 years (from 1970 to 1995) shows that the coefficient of variation of such fodder crops as feed roots, corn, barley and oat usually makes up more than 20 percent, which is significant, whereas natural grassland and perennial grass coefficient is less than 20 percent. Natural grassland is an important component in substance circulation and energy flows in agro-zoo-eco-systems. Overall natural grassland efficiency of photosynthetic active radiation in vegetative cover of Russia is about 0.7 percent (according to Chernikov, 2000).

Preservation and study of spontaneous course of natural processes and phenomena, genetic fund of flora and fauna, certain plants and animals and communities, typical and unique ecological systems is carried out in 183 reserve and national parks of Russia on an area of 28,400,000 ha.

Natural grassland
Natural pastures occupy 64,200,000 ha, meadows - 23,400,000 ha. Natural grasslands vary in structure of plants, soil, relief and humidity. This variety is caused by the vastness of the territory and the extensive range from north to south and from east to west.

There are six soil-climatic zones in Russia: tundra, forest, forest-steppe and steppe, semi-desert, desert and subtropics (Table 14). Subtropics on the Black Sea coast occupy a very limited territory in relation to other zones and have no essential importance in animal husbandry.

Table 14. Distribution of natural grassland in zones of Russia (million ha)
Zone Meadows Pastures Total NG percent NG of agricultural land Deer pastures
Tundra and forest-tundra  











Forest-steppe and steppe





Semidesert and desert

















The grazing period is 120-150 days in forest zone, about 180 days - in steppe, more than 220 days in semi desert, almost the year round in desert and tundra. Each natural zone has a large variety of vegetative associations according to relief features, soil type, degree of drainage and salinisation. Prof. Ramensky developed the most comprehensive phyto-type classification of grasslands (1938), which is still used. According to this classification of grasslands and pastures in the country zones all fodder land is divided into 25 classes, with 1,500 taxonomic units. Flood plains and mountain areas are found in all zones.

Tundra and forest-tundra
Tundra and forest-tundra occupy the Far North. The southern border is at 65° in the European part, 72° in Taimyr, 60° in the Far East. Deer pastures occupy 290,200,000 ha. A specific feature of tundra is the absence of forest, which only occurs close to the southern borders of the zone. The warm current of the Gulf stream influences natural conditions a lot - vegetation, climate, soil of Western part of tundra (Kola Peninsula). Central and eastern parts of the tundra differ a lot from western part. The continental climate of Northern Asia and cold sea climate of Barentsevo Sea influence them. The growing period is 2-4 months.

Total amount of light in tundra is one third less than in middle latitudes, and the effect on active photosynthetic radiation is even bigger. Strong winds cause active moisture evaporation, and plants suffer from lack of moisture at low temperatures of soil and water. Snow cover on plains is only 20-30 cm. Wind moves snow crystals and this damages plant shoots above snow surface.

These climatic features interfere with forest formation. Short bushes, herbaceous plants with leaves growing close to the surface, Lichens, Musci are typical of the tundra. Sedges (Cyperaceae), grass and some kind of mixed herbs prevail among herbaceous plants. Deer eat plants of these groups and separate kinds of plants unequally. Swamp lands are very widespread.

A severe climate with a combination of poor fodder resources only allows reindeer herding. Other livestock are extremely limited and live, for example, on flood plains.

Bushes of the tundra, for example Salicaceae (Salix glauca, Salix lanata, Salix myrsinites, Salix reptans) have the greatest fodder importance; Betulaceae (Betula nana, Betula exilis, Betula middendorfii) also have fodder importance, but to a smaller extent. Bush height in the tundra does not usually exceed 50-60 cm. Deer browse bushes in summer, partially in spring and autumn.

Lichens (Cetraria islandica, Cladonia rangiferina) are the basic winter feed of deer. They eat Lichens actively, starting in the second half of September and in spring till the end of May. Bushy Lichens are of the greatest fodder importance - Cladonia (Cl. alpestri, Cl. rangiferina, Cl. silvatica) and Cetraria (C. islandica C cucullata). Stereocaulon paschale and Alectoria sarmantosa (in winter) are also significant feed for deer.

Sedges (Cyperaceae) occupy the third place. Eriophorum, Baeothryon cespitosum, Carex (Carex aquatilis, Carex rariflora, Carex ?oncolor, Carex juncella)) represent the greatest fodder value. These plants are eaten most willingly at the end of May, June, then in autumn and winter (from under snow). Grasses are eaten willingly in the second half of May, June and the first half of July. Arctophila fulva, Deschampsia brevifolia, Festuca airoides have the greatest importance among fodder grasses. Equisetum arvense and Equisetum silvaticum, Antennaria dioica, Menyanthes trifoliata, Polygonum bistortum Geum nivale, and Pedicularis have the greatest importance among mixed herbs. Legumes are not widespread in tundra, but particularly include Astragalus (Astragalus alpinus, Astragalus umbellatus).

Judging from rumen contents, deer diet in spring is 60-65 percent of green forage, 35-40 percent of Lichens, in summer - green forage, in autumn there is an almost equal amount of green forage and Lichens, in winter - Lichens and partially green forage from under the snow. Yield of dry matter eaten varies from 100 (sphagnum bogs) up to 400 kg / ha (osier-beds and birch pastures are the most productive).Deer graze all the year round with seasonal use of separate types of pastures. In summer deer go to the ocean coast, where there are fewer mosquitoes, in winter - to forest - tundra. Basic measures of stability are:

1. Moderate use of fodder, not more than 30 percent of gain.

2. Pasture rotation observance with breaks between grazing within 3 years.

Forest zone

The forest zone makes up almost half of the Russian territory. Its northern border reaches 67° North, southern border 52° North (in Siberia). The forest zone is characterized by prevalence of forests and bushes in the structure of the land - 61 percent of total territory: agricultural land is 9 percent of the area, including 3 percent of grasslands and pastures. Along with natural pastures, about 50,000,000 ha of forests, bushes and bogs are partially used for grazing and grasslands. The lowland plain is in the European part and Western Siberia up to the river Yenisei. Elevated-mountain part is located in the East Siberia. Due to the large extent of the zone the parameters of moderate climate have essential distinctions in extreme points. For example, precipitation is from 308 up to 620 mm (St. Petersburg - 522, Moscow - 620, Krasnoyarsk, Siberia - 306, Vladivostok - 537). Annual average temperature is from -3° ? up to + 4.6° (St. Petersburg +4.1°, Moscow +3.6° C, Chita, Siberia -3° C, Vladivostok +4.6° C).

The period with temperature above +5° is from 146 to 194 days, i.e. close to the duration of perennial grass growth (St. Petersburg 174, Moscow 173). Two thirds of the northern territories are covered with coniferous forests (Picea, Pinus, Larix, Abies). Deciduous trees (Betula, Populus tremula)grow in the south. Natural pastures and meadows between rivers were formed on land previously occupied by forest. Natural grassland on watersheds is subdivided into two basic groups: grasslands of the upland and lowland grassland.

Upland grassland occupies 50 percent of the area, the proportion of lowland and bog types is significant, flood plain grasslands occupies up to 15 percent of the area. Uplands are on elevated elements of relief. Upland pastures are more than 30 percent of pasture area in the forest zone.

Absolute upland occupies the tops of elevated elements of relief, the top third of slopes. The underground water is far from the surface and grass roots cannot reach it. Soil is poor sod-podzol, sometimes - shallow sod-calcareous, deeply drained. Vegetation - thin short small grass. In summer it dries up quickly and regrows badly after grazing. Festuca ovina and Nardus stricta grasslands prevail on strongly podzolic soil, with rather poor organic matter and strongly acid.

Agrostis tenuis and Anthoxanthum odoratum grasslands are found on sod medium- and strongly-podzolic loamy soil. Festuca rubra and Poa grasslands occupy richer sod loamy calcareous soil. Mixed herbs, such as Antennaria, Hieracium prevail on poor soil. Centaurea jacea, Leucanthemum vulgare, Potentilla argentea are on richer soil. Pasture productivity is 0.3-0.7 t/ha DM.

Absolute upland with acid soil is more suited to afforestation. Grasslands on calcareous soil can be made more productive by seeding with legumes and top dressing of mineral fertilizers.

Upland grassland of normal moisture status
These upland grasslands occupy plains, medium parts of slopes, dry river valleys. Soil is humidified enough due to good absorption of atmospheric precipitation. Nardus stricta - mixed herb grasslands prevail on sod medium- and strongly-podzolic sandy and sandy-loam soil. Agrostis mixed herbs and Anthoxanthum odoratum mixed herbs grasslands occupy sod loamy medium- and weakly-podzolic soil. Such grass stands are used for grazing. Productivity is 0.6-1.0 t/ha DM. Festuca pratensis, Dactylis glomerata grasslands prevail on sod loam calcareous soil. Grass-stand consists of Festuca pratensis, Dactylis glomerata, Elytrigia repens, Poa pratensis Prevailing legumes are Trifolium pratense and Trifolium repens, Lathyrus pratensis, Vicia cracca, sometimes - Lotus corniculatus. Legumes on dry valley grasslands are sometimes background plants and make up 10-20 percent of the total mass. Mixed herbs consist of Leucanthemum vulgare, Alchemilla, Ranunculus, Centaurea jacea, Poterium. They are used mainly for grasslands. Productivity is 1.2-1.5 t/ha DM of quite good quality hay or haylage. Productivity and quality can be improved by fertilizer application.

Grassland-steppe plants, such as Phleum phleoides, Bromopsis inermis, Poa angustifolia, Medicago falcata emerge along with the above-mentioned in the southern part of the forest zone on shallow grey forested and sod calcareous soil. They are used as grasslands and pastures. Productivity is 0.8-1.0 t/ha DM.

Uplands with temporary waterlogging prevail on plains without rain water drainage, and superficial depressions where waters collect. These grasslands have superfluous humidity in spring and autumn. Sod strongly and medium-podzol soils prevail. Soil acidity is, as a rule, rather high. The structure of prevailing vegetation is as follows: Deschampsia caespitosa, Agrostis canina, Nardus, fine Carex (Carex nigra, Carex cineria, Carex panicea), hygrophilous mixed herbs (Filipendula ulmaria, Ranunculus); legumes are Lathyrus pratensis, Trifolium hybridum). They are used mainly as grasslands. The productivity of rather poor quality hay is 1-1.5 t/ha DM. The priority improvement measure is drainage of surface water.

Lowland grassland.
These occupy about 5,000,000 ha in the forest zone on low plains, in hollows, and lowland between elevated relief elements. In spring thaw snow water flows down here. Gley soils have more humus than dry valley ones, often they are rich in calcium, pH is 6-8. Depth of ground water is 1-1.5 metres.

Moist - mixed grass and Cyperaceae grasslands prevail most of all. Along with Deschampsia caespitosa grass stands consist of Agrostis gigantea and Agrostis canina, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Festuca rubra, Ranunculus, Trifolium hybridum, Trifolium repens. Cyperaceae grasslands with abundance of grasses : Phleum pratense, Alopecurus pratensis, Festuca pratensis or with significant amounts of mixed forbs: Trollius, Polygonum bistorta, Polygonum, Geum rivale often prevail. They are used as meadows and as pastures to a smaller extent. Hay or haylage productivity is 1.2-2.5 t/ha DM.

Bogs occupy a significant part of the zone - 86,200,000 ha.

Forest - steppe zone
In Russia arable land prevails in the forest - steppe zone land structure (48 percent of total area); natural grassland makes up about 30 percent. It is flat and sloping steppe and dry-steppe pasture. In European forest-steppe all land between rivers with black soil and grey forest-steppe soil is ploughed. Forests occupy a limited area and consist of birch, aspen and oak. Natural grassland remains only on gully slopes and bottoms and in river valleys. Northern and western gully slopes are flat and covered with thick leached black soil.

Bromopsis inermis, Bromopsis riparia, Festuca pratensis, Poa pratensis, Elytrigia repens, Trifolium pratense, Vicia cracca, Salvia pratensis, Leucanthemum vulgare prevail if used as meadow. There are not many legumes in natural grassland, but such legumes as Vicia, Lathyrus, Trifolium sometimes prevail on flood plain grasslands, forest glades and fallow. Productivity of rather high quality hay or haylage is 1-1.5 t/ha DM. Southern and eastern slopes are usually more abrupt, dry, with shallow washed off black soil. Xerophilous grass, such as Festuca rupicola, Poa angustifolia, Agropyron repens, Bromopsis inermis, Phleum phleoides prevail in grass stands. There are far fewer legumes than on northern and western slopes. Legumes are Medicago falcata, Onobrychis, Astragalus and Melilotus. Mixed forbs are mostly Achillea millefolium and Artemisia austriaca. Slopes of this aspect are used as pastures. Productivity of grazed grass is 1.2-1.5 t/ha DM. Gully bottoms are covered with vegetation, similar to that of northern slopes.

Short forb vegetation with domination of Poa angustifolia, Poa bulbosa, Festuca rupicola, Achillea millefolium, Anisantha tectorum , Plantago media, Potentilla argentea prevails on slope soils with excessive grazing, Trifolium repens can be seen as well. Sometimes ravine slopes are transformed into association of plants unpalatable for cattle, for example Salvia nutans, Circium, Euphorbia and Achillea millefolium. Productivity of fine grass associations does not exceed 0.9-1.2 t/ha DM of grazed mass. It is expedient to expand the areas with perennial grass on slope soils; unpalatable grasses are destroyed with herbicides, then subsequently undersown to grass without mechanical treatment of the sod.

Meadows and pastures of Asian forest-steppe
15 percent of Asian forest-steppe is covered with forests. Betula, Populus tremula with an admixture of Salix L., are present in the forests.

Basic types of pastures are located on solonetz with small patches of alkaline black soil. Typical vegetation is mixed grass with a prevalence of Calamagrostis epigeia, Poa pratensis and Poa angustifolia, Phleum phleoides are also present, Galatella or Artemisia grow on solonetz. Productivity is 0.6-0.8 t/ha DM. Mixed grass with Melilotus, Elymus trachycalus, Bromopsis inermis, Medicago falcata can be sown for improvement. Productivity of sown grass mixture is 1.5-2.0 t/ha DM and more.

Alopecurus and Elytrigia repens prevail on grassland-solonetz soil. This grass stand is used for hay or haylage. Productivity is 1.2-3 t/ha DM. Puccinellia grasslands are formed on solonetz. Festuca rupicola, Festuca ovina, Galatella and Calamagrostis epigeios dominates. Artemisia pontica, Carex praecox, Achillea, Inula salicina are most typical. They are used for grazing. Productivity is 1-1.5 t/ha DM.

Steppe zone
The climate of steppe is continental, more humid at the foothills of the Caucasus, Ural and Altai Mountains. Average annual precipitation is from 277 (Semipalatinsk) up to 649 mm (Krasnodar), average annual temperature is from 2.8 (Semipalatinsk) up to 11.10 (Krasnodar), frost-free period (with temperature higher than +5° ?) is from 174 days (Semipalatinsk) to 245 days (Krasnodar).

Natural steppe grassland in Western Russia remains as separate small patches. Unploughed steppe is covered with grassy vegetation. There is no forest. Stipa lessingiana, Festuca rupicola are the most typical. Bushes such as Spiraea, Laburnum Medic, Cytisus are in depressions. Forests are only on flooded plains and in gullies. During summer drought, significant amounts of perennial xerophilous grasses are dormant. In this season they already start to turn yellow at the end of flowering. The whole steppe turns yellow and looks burnt out. At the end of August - beginning of September rain occurs, temperature lowers, and the vital ability of these plants reactivates. New sprouts appear and some spring sprouts turn green. Ephemeron emerge in the steppe, which grow only in spring (Ceratocephala testiculata, Alyssum desertorum, Lepidium perfoliatum, Anisantha tectorum, Bromopsis squarrosus, Eremopyrum orientale, Ranunculus bulbosus, Euclidium syriacum, and also ephemeridae (Poa bulbosa, Carex uralensis).

Large and sloping areas are usually used as pastures. Vegetative cover is very thin here. Artemisia, Achillea, Matricaria, Euphorbia seguierana dominate on slopes. Kochia prostrata sometimes dominates. There is not much legume and grass on slopes. Legumes include Medicago falcata, Melilotus alba, Melilotus officinalis, and Vicia tenuifolia. Grassses are Festuca, Bromopsis riparia, Bromopsis inermis, Poa angustifolia, Poa bulbosa, and Andropogon. Stipa prevails on less intensively used soils. Pasture productivity on slopes is 0.8-1.5 t/ha DM.

Small areas of unploughed natural steppe are found on combinations and complexes of black soil and dark - chestnut soil with solonetz. Prevailing vegetation of solonetz is Artemisia lerchiana, Artemisia pauciflora, Kochia prostrata, Festuca sulcata, Pyrethrum and Galatella tatarica. Such spotty steppes are used mainly for grazing. Productivity varies from 0.8 up to 1.8 t/ha DM depending on soil and vegetation. Sown grass can be established on these soils after appropriate treatment. Adapted cultivars of grass, such as Agropyron cristatum, Agropyron desertorum, Medicago falcata, Melilotus alba are used for sowing.

Lowland, flood plain, liman grasslands and even bogs occur in forest-steppe and steppe zones. They alternate with steppe and grassland-steppe pastures on sandy and sandy loam soil. They occupy river flood-plain terraces or watersheds, where bumpy, ridging sand is generated. Lowland areas called liman occur in the steppe, as well as in semi desert. They look like dishes. Lowland edges are 1-1.5 m higher than the level floor. They are flooded by snow melt. Liman soil is of grassland type with a different degree of salinity and solonetzicity. Sward structure consists of grass - forbs; Elytrigia pseudocaesia, Alopecurus arundinaceus as grass, mixed forbs are Artemisia absinthium and Artemisia maritima. Limans are flooded very unequally: from several days to about one month. Grass stand productivity changes from 0.3 up to 4 t/ha DM because of uneven moisture provision. A liman occupies tens and even hundreds of hectares.

Semidesert zone
Semidesert and desert zones are characterized by domination of natural grassland, pastures occupy 70 percent of total area. Semi desert and desert pastures prevail (66 percent). The semi desert zone is to the south of the steppe and occupies a significant part of areas to the north of the Caspian Sea. In Siberia typical semi desert does not exist. In areas behind the Volga River, where the peculiar characteristics inherent to semi desert are most obviously shown, the temperature sometimes falls to -40° C in winter. In summer (July) temperatures reach +42° C; precipitation is 206 up to 268 mm. About a quarter of the precipitation is in June - July. At this season the soil surface temperature is often more than 50°, and relative humidity of the air less than 40 percent, therefore rain evaporates very quickly. Duration of the warm period (above zero) is 211-240 days.

On the watershed between the Volga and Ural rivers semi desert has well expressed spottiness. Soil is loam and clay. Its background is presented by even microelevations. Small and superficial (15-30 cm) depressions occur every 5-50 m. Semi-bush associations of a desert type with domination of the following plants - Artemisia pauciflora, Artemisia lercheana, Kochia prostrata, Camphorosma monspeliacum and less often Halimione verrucifera, Anabasis salsa and Limonium suffruticosum prevail in flat sites. Proportion of legumes is less than 2 percent in the semidesert zone. Ephemeroids play an important role in structure of grass stand - Poa bulbosa, Tulipa gesheriana, Tulipa biflora and less often Tulipa biebersteiniana, Allium lineare, Allium paniculatum. Among ephemeron Alyssum turkestanicum, Lepidium perfoliatum, Chorispora tenella, Eremopyrum orientale, Eremopyrum triticeum, Euclidium syriacum and some others prevail.

Depressions are round or oblong. Their size varies within 2-100 m2. Kochia prostrata, Crinitaria villossa, Tanacetum achilleifolium grow on the slopes of depressions. Below associations with prevalence of Festuca valesiaca, Agropyron pectiniforme, Stipa lessingiana, Stipa capillata occur, legume - Medicago romano. Low land occupies less than 20 percent of the total. Transitions between lowland and level areas are found on light-chestnut alkaline soil or even deep solonetz. Vegetation of these transitions is represented by Tanacetum achilleifolium, Agropyron desertorum, and Kochia prostrata. Lowlands make up about 8 percent of the area. Lowland productivity is 1-1.2 t/ha DM.

Light-chestnut soil with domination of Stipa lessingiana and S. capillata, Festuca rupicola, Pyrethrum, Agropyron desertorum, Artemisia austriaca prevail in semi desert located on the right bank of the Volga river (Volgograd and Astrakhan oblasts) on levelled sites. Solonetz with Artemisia lerchiana and Artemisia pauciflora, Camphorosma monspeliacum prevail on slight depressions; Stipa capillata, Festuca rupicola, Euphorbia seguierana grow in depressions on black-soil-like patches.

East of the Urals (Siberia) Artemisia communities, characteristic of solonetz and rock debris soil often occur. Here Artemisia austriaca and Artemisia pauciflora communities with prevalence of Anabasis salsa, integrating or combining with Artemisia-grass and grass communities frequently dominate.

Watershed spotty semi desert is used as a pasture for sheep, goats, camels and sometimes cattle and horses. A little snow allows grazing not only in warm seasons, but also quite often in winter. In years with plentiful precipitation it is possible to cut such complex for hay. The productivity of hay changes from 0.3 up to 0.8 t/ha DM.

Sand and sandy massifs of the semi desert

They occupy not less than 15-20 percent of semi desert territory. Steppe grasses - Stipa, Festuca, Leymus occur in significant amounts on sandy soil, not only in semi desert, but even in the northern part of deserts. In low places ground water is usually at a depth of 1-2 metres; mesophyll grass (Elytrigia repens), bushes and trees develop on them. In such cases, grain and melons are grown successfully, even on desert sand. Scattered clumps or small patches of Leymus racemosus and Agriophyllum asauarosum occur on barchan slopes, sometimes on barchans themselves and in basins of aeolian erosion. Carex colchica (sometimes a lot of it), Carex vesicaria (in the southwest), Gypsophila paniculata, Stipa pennata, Artemisia arenaria, Chondrilla, Salix, Salsola and some other are mixed with them. On barchans and their slopes often only one large plant grows every ten square metres.

Bumpy sand is almost stationary so it often has richer vegetative cover. The same plants grow as on barchan slopes, but others always occur, namely: Artemisia arenaria, Kochia Roth, bushy Astragalus, Alhagi and some others. Ground water in depressions is often close to the surface, especially in sandy massifs formed on river drifts. There is a lot of Artemisia arenaria, Alhagi and in the east - Ceratoides and Carex vesicaria on bumpy, usually stiff sand.

Wavy-hilly and ridge sands are sands with low hills and ridges, and also with well expressed alternating depressions or elevations. Hills and ridges seldom rise above 2-3 metres. Agropyron cristatum is the basic plant (70-80 percent of mass). Kochia, Chondrilla, Euphorbia seguieriana and less often Stipa capillata mix with it. Sandy plains encircle sands. Well expressed light-chestnut or brown soil are developed here. Artemisia dominates here and is mixed with Agropyron cristatum and other plants peculiar to the previous type of sand.

Wavy, wavy-hilly sand with Agropyron cristatum is most valuable for fodder. Productivity is up to 0.6-1 t/ha DM; they can be used for autumn and winter grazing. Sandy plains with prevalence of Artemisia are mainly used as early-spring, autumn and winter pastures with productivity 0.5-0.6 t/ha. Barchan and bumpy sand, especially the first, should be closed to grazing and oversown with Elymus and other plants, then grazed, but moderately, after grass stand improvement.

Now natural liman pastures occupy 3,500,000 ha. Slope steepness influences their vegetation and soil. Limans are extremely varied as to vegetation and soil. The main soils are variants of solonchak(saline) and grassland-alkaline soil; halophytes of the Chenopodiaceae and plants resistant to soil salinization (Artemisia, Leymus ramosus, Elytrigia repens, Alopecurus) prevail here.

Different soil types and liman vegetation are located as strips. The peripheral strip is rarely flooded with spring water and only for some days. Artemisia, Halimione verrucifera, Limonium suffruticosum prevail on solonetz. Patches of Agropyron pectinatum, Crinitaria villosa, Festuca valesiaca, Koeleria occur less often. Productivity is 0.2-0.4 t/ha DM. It is used as early-spring and autumn-winter pastures.

The strip which is not flooded annually with spring water occupies sometimes more than half of the liman area. Depth of water is about 20 cm, at the end of April - beginning of May water evaporates or goes to the lower places. Soil is shallow solonetz. Artemisia dominates, Agropyron pectinatum occurs less often with some mixture or in strips, with patches of Limonium suffruticosum, Aeluropus, Crinitaria villosa and Chenopodiaceae. Sometimes there is a lot of Medicago falcata in Elytrigia associations. Productivity is 0.6-1 t/ha DM. It is used as spring and autumn-winter pasture or as grassland.

In the strip which is flooded by spring waters most years, water depth is not more than 30-40 cm for 20-30 days. Soil is grassland dark solonchak. Puccinellia dominates, but Artemisia patches and strips occur quite often in the grass stand. Puccinellia grasslands occupy small areas, and Puccinellia -solonchak- Artemisia often make up 20-30 percent of liman area. Puccinellia grasslands produce 1-1.2 t/ha DM high quality hay.

In the strip which is flooded by spring waters almost every year, water depth is 40-60 cm (rarely more) and it stays till the beginning of June - middle of July. Soil is grassland dark solonchak or grassland solod (degraded solonetz). Elytrigia prevails and Bromopsis, Calamagrostis, Galatella, Eleocharis replaces it. Very often Elytrigia is 1.5 m high. in almost pure stand with hay productivity up to 6 -7 t / ha DM. Elytrigia grasslands occupies no more than 15 percent of all liman areas. Very often limans on hundreds of hectares are almost totally covered with Elytrigia. Average productivity is 2-2.5 t/ha DM.

The lowest liman strip is covered with patches of Carex melanostachya, Phragmites or Scirpus maritimus (if the soil is very salty) with mixture of Scirpus lacustris, Typha, Eleocharis. The middle is occupied by open water without vegetation (if it is deep) or with Potamogeton and other water plants. It occupies not more than 5 percent of liman area. Reeds are used for fuel and construction. Elevated streaks with Halocnemum, Salsola and others succulent Chenopodiaceae and depressions with Juncus gerardii often occur on strips. Limans in semideserts have great economic importance. Almost all hay in semidesert is harvested limans, which enables the use of neighbouring pastures to the full. Liman productivity can be increased considerably by constructing low banks which guide spring waters to areas occupied with the most valuable fodder plants - Elytrigia, Beckmannia, Alopecurus, Bromopsis and Medicago.

Desert zone
In Russia deserts occupy limited areas compared to the former USSR. Dominant plants are Artemisia, Poa bulbosa, Salsola, Eremopyrum; annual grass on loam and clay soil Productivity is 0.1-0.3 t/ha DM. Aristida, Artemisia, Salsola, Agriophyllum, Haloxylon prevail on sandy and loam soil. Productivity is 0.2-0.4 t/ha DM. Flatland desert pastures dominate the topographical structure. Pastures are used mainly for sheep and goats.

Meadows and mountain pastures
Mountains occupy a huge area: they include Southern-European mountain, Eastern-Siberian taiga mountain and Southern -Siberian mountain zones. Forests and bush make up more than 40 percent of the territory in mountain zones. Natural grassland occupies about 13 percent. Mountain grasslands and pastures are: small hill submountain (36-51 percent), mountain and high-mountain (16-61 percent) types. In the forest zone mountain grasslands and pastures (Ural, East Siberia) differ from those of flatland plains only in their higher zones - subalpine and alpine grasslands. In forest-tundra and tundra mountain vegetation is similar to flatland vegetation.

Bush semi desert, found in the European part of Northern Caucasus at a height of 1,100-1,500 metres above sea level, is characterised by thin vegetative cover with a lot of xerophilous grassy plants (Andropogon) and thorny subshrubs and bushes (Paliurus spin-christi). It is low-quality pasture. Stipa, Festuca, Andropogon and Elytrigia repens dominate in steppe zone. They have a lot of ephemeron and Poa bulbosa, mezophyll plants: Dactylis glomerata, Bromopsis inermis, Bromopsis riparia, Elytrigia repens, Vicia tenuifolia and Medicago falcata often occur. This mountain zone is used for crops and less often for grazing (steeper slopes) and hay. Productivity is 0.6-0.8 t/ha DM.

In the grassland-steppe zone the prevalent groupings are: xerophytic grasses (Festuca ovina, Festuca rupicola, Koeleria cristata, Phleum phleoides, Poa pratensis, Stipa pennata); mesophytic grasses (Bromopsis riparia, Poa pratensis, Dactylis glomerata, Festuca pratensis and Carex supina) and forbs. The Caucasus grassland-steppe zone is used for crops and only partially for grazing and hay cutting. Grasslands here produce 1.2-1.4 t/ha DM of high quality hay.

In the forest zone in places which used to be forest, grasslands are in patches with a domination of Calamagrostis arundinacea, Dactylis glomerata, Agrostis, Veratrum lobelianum, Vicia tenuifolia, Onobrychis and Trifolium They are used for hay cutting and grazing. Productivity is 1-2.5 t/ha DM.

High grass lands are developed in the top of the forest zone where forest has been felled, characterised by strong growth of plants reaching often two metres and more. Heracleum, Lilium, Campanula, Centaurea, Dactylis glomerata, Calamagrostis arundinacea and Arrhenatherum elatium often occur here. Some years the green mass yield is 40-50 t/ha, but due to low palatability as pasture or hay it is expedient to use this vegetation for silage.

Sub alpine grasslands are distinguished by many vegetative groupings. Here grasslands occur with prevalence of one of the following plants: Bromopsis inermis, Festuca valesiaca, Nardus, forbs (Anemone, Polygonum bistorta, Scabiosa, Pimpinella and Veratrum lobelianum), and forbs-grass grasslands with prevalence of mesophyll grass; legumes are represented by Trifolium and Anthyllis lachnophora. Forbs of sub alpine grasslands are rich and tall (70-100 cm high). The grasslands on Caucasus are used for hay, less often for grazing. Hay productivity is 1.5-2.5 t/ha DM. Hay and pasture quality varies.

Alpine grasslands are specific in grass stand density and low height (10-30 cm). Typical grasslands have one or several cultivars of the following plants: Nardus, Festuca valesiaca, Bromopsis variegata, Alchemilla, Campanula. Mixed grasslands often occur: the first storey consist of grass, Carex, Viola and others, the second - forbs of bright colour (Gentiana, Campanula, Carum, Anemone, Alchemilla). Caucasus Alpine grasslands are perfect summer pastures grazed by vast herds of sheep and horses in summer. Productivity is 0.2-0.7 t/ha DM.

Mountain pastures are used seasonally. In spring animals graze on semi desert and partially steppe pastures. At the end of May - beginning of June herds move to grassland-steppe and forest zone, in mid June - to sub alpine zone and stay there till mid (seldom the end) of September. In some areas animals go immediately to alpine grasslands, not staying on sub-alpine grasslands, and then in late autumn or winter return to villages. Animals make good weight gain on mountain pastures, but fat is quickly spent during winter underfeeding. That is why after grazing in mountains animals always stay for a long time on Artemisia-Salsola pastures. Their fat becomes dense, and they survive the winters perfectly.

Flood plain grassland
There are 15,000,000 ha of flood plain grasslands according to the Land Register.

Flood plain grasslands produce higher and more stable yields compared to other fodder lands. Flood plain grasslands are found all over Russia, their vegetation differs. Annual or periodic flooding with high water changes their soil and vegetation very much, that is why a flooded plain is allocated a special class. Rivers mostly flood in early spring due to snow melt (in the European part and Western Siberia). Some rivers of the Far East flood late summer, when there are intensive rains. Perennial plants on flood plains get more water than plants on watersheds and do not lack moisture. Mesophytes and hygrophytes grow here.

Flood plain grasslands of tundra and forest-tundra Spring floods of tundra rivers are taxing, but low and short (this does not refer to such large rivers as Ob’, Yenisei, Lena). Sandy and sandy loam soil prevail on flood plains. Low bushes, Lichens, Musci dominate on high patches of flood plains. Middle and low levels are covered with osier-beds, and in the north - even with moss-low bush associations. Grassland vegetation occupies small areas, mainly on most long flood plain patches. Mixed grass - tall grasslands with Bromopsis inermis, Alopecurus pratensis, Calamagrostis langsdorffi and Seseli libanotis developed here. Carex aquatilis dominates on swampy grasslands. Flood plain grasslands of tundra are almost unused.

Flood plain grassland of the forest zone. The best Russian grasslands are on flood plains of the forest zone and the north of forest steppe zone. Soil is richer than on watersheds, and plants suffer from lack of moisture less often. There are many forests (mostly coniferous) in under-populated regions on the central flood plain and there are many Cyperaceae and Alnus bogs on sub-continental flood plains. The following succession may be observed on flood plains: associations of Nardus, Festuca ovina and even Antennaria dioica prevail on high crests, not flooded or flooded for a short time; creeping fescue fine grass with prevalence Festuca rubra and significant mixture of Leucanthemum vulgare, Rhinanthus, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Agrostis tenuis, Deschampsia caespitosa, Poa pratensis and Medicago falcata (south) are typical on slightly lower crests.

Forbs with Agrostis gigantea are widespread on annually flooded plains (middle level), close to riverbeds and often on central flood plains: Agrostis albus, Trifolium pratense, Lathyrus pratensis, Vicia cracca, Festuca pratensis, Phleum pratense, Equisetum arvense, Geranium pratense, Ranunculus acris and Heracleum sibiricum are the most constant in this type. Tall grass land with prevalence of Alopecurus, Agropyron, Bromopsis and grass stand mixed from them are located lower than bentgrass. Associations with prevalence of Phleum, Alopecurus, Festuca pratensis, Trifolium pratense, Geranium pratense and Rumex confertus are typical of grasslands in the central zone. Grassy and alder bogs, damp swamp Cyperaceae and deschampsia grassland with Filipendula ulmaria Maxim, Geum, Trollius prevail on sub-continental flood plains.

Flood plain grassland of the steppe zone. Lack of moisture and alterations of humidity quite often create vegetative groupings from sharply opposite groups of plants, for example xerophytes and mezophytes and even hygrophytes. Grass stands are thinner and produce smaller crops in comparison with grass stands on flood plains of a forest zone. The highest patches with light alluvium and immature soil on flood plains close to river beds are covered with Calamagrostis epigeios with forbs - tall group (Artemisia, Glycyrrhiza, Calamagrostis epigeios , Bromopsis inermis, Stipa capillata), sometimes with steppe bushes (Rosa, Spiraea, Acacia, Lonicera). Agropyron and Festuca steppe-like grasslands with mixture of Artemisia, Galium, Bromopsis inermis, Alopecurus and Medicago falcata plants occur less often on more undulating relief. Bromopsis inermis often dominates lower down on this topography. Grass-forbs association with prevalence of Festuca valesiaca, Agropyron sibiricum. or their combination dominate on elevated patches of central flood plain with insufficient moisture. Mixture of Poa pratensis, Alopecurus pratensis, Bromopsis inermis, steppe bushes, Artemisia and Medicago falcata is significant.

On more undulating relief and flood plains with average soil moisture, Elytrigia grasslands dominate, on more dense (alkaline) soil - Alopecurus and less often on lighter soils - Bromopsis. These grasslands are characterised by almost constant presence of Eleocharis palustris and Carex praecox, Vicia cracca, Rumex confertus, Sanguisorba officinalis and Phlomis tuberosa. Appreciable amounts of mesophyll representatives from the forest zone flood plains: Trifolium pratense and Trifolium repens, Festuca pratensis, Phleum pratense occur here rarely. There is a lot of Glycyrrhiza on Ural River flood plains on solonetz soil.

Sedges (Carex vulpina, Carex acuta), less often Elytrigia repens and Sonchus arvensis prevail in depressions between crests with close underground waters. The most elevated and non saline parts of sub-continental flood plains are occupied by Festuca valesiaca, Stipa capillata with mixture of forbs and steppe bushes. Agropyron pectinatum or Glycyrrhiza with mixture Elytrigia repens, Alopecurus dominates a little lower on alkaline soil; Puccinellia, Morus, Artemisia- on grassland saline soils. Reed bogs often occur in this zone and Cyperaceae and shrubs (Salicaceae) much less than on flood plains of the forest zone. Deciduous forests (Populus tremula, Ulmus, Quercus) often grow on flood plains of steppe rivers (mainly close to the watercourse).


Expansion of the use of forage legumes and mixtures with grasses is the strategic direction for improving sown grassland. Legumes are the basic source of natural nitrogen - the most important nutrient limiting grassland and other agricultural crops’ efficiency. The renewed attention to legumes has come about because they:

- enable increased efficiency of natural grassland, perennial grass on arable land and subsequent crops in the rotation;

- reduce expenditure on nitrogenous fertilizers;

- increase nutritional value and palatability of forage ensuring less expensive and more effective systems of ruminant production;

- produce high-quality, ecologically safe fodder and livestock products to protect the environment from pollution.

Successful use of legumes depends on their adaptation to climatic and soil conditions, and also ways (grazing, cutting) and intensity of use and symbiosis with soil micro-organisms. More than 1,800 species of legume are described in the flora of Russia. Legumes make up 7-8 percent of the vegetative cover of fodder land in Russia.

Now Trifolium pratense, Trifolium repens, Medicago sativa are the most widespread legumes both in natural grassland improvement and in perennial grass establishment on pastures. Lotus corniculatus, Onobrychis, Melilotus alba, M. officinalis and some others have less significance. According to generalised data by D. M. Priashnikov, total nitrogen fixed by Medicago can be 300 kg/ha (up to 500-600), and Trifolium - 150-160 kg/ha (up to 250-300). Thus average nitrogen retained in the soil after grass harvest is up to 100 and 75-100 kg/ha.

Trifolium pratense is the main perennial legume of the forest zone of European Russia, in taiga and semi-taiga zones of Siberia and the Far East. It is feasible to have larger areas of it in the forest steppe zone and foothill areas of Northern Caucasus. Trifolium can be grown on well watered soil in the steppe. Trifolium pratense occupies about half the area of sown perennial pasture on arable land. Trifolium pratense yield in northern and east regions is 6-8 t/ha, in central and western areas of a forest zone of European Russia 8.5-10 t/ha. Clover stands producing 10 t/ha contain more than 500 kg of nitrogen, including more than 350 kg / ha of symbiotic nitrogen. In Western and East Siberia Trifolium pratense makes up 20-25 percent from the sown perennial swards area.

Medicago sativa, M. falcata are the leading fodder crops of the forest-steppe and steppe. Nevertheless it is possible to expand Medicago growing in the forest zone of European Russia by 2-3 times. Medicago yield in central, southern and east areas of the forest zone of the European part is 8-10 t/ha. Medicago proportion in field grass planting of the European part and Western Siberia is 40-45 percent.

Onobrychis viciifolia, is unsuited to acid soil, so is limited to black soil forest - steppe and steppe zones. Melilotus is an unbeaten crop for saline soils. In European Russia in the forest - steppe and steppe zones their spread can be 10-20 percent, in Western Siberia - approximately 30 percent, in East Siberia - about 5 percent.

To resolve the need for soil enrichment by biological nitrogen special importance belongs to grassland establishment based on mixtures of legumes (Blagoveschensky, 2000). High efficiency was shown by mixtures of Trifolium pratense with Medicago on sub-acid and near neutral soil, Lotus corniculatus with Trifolium pratense on more acid soil. Such mixtures have steadier and level yields over years, productive longevity, increase of protein output, increase of soil organic matter and nitrogen, increase of biological activity and other important properties of soil, low consumption of labour for cultivation.

Establishment of multicomponent legume mixtures in rotation with cereals for forage is a priority in field forage production systems for cattle farms. The proportion of perennial forage legumes in grain crop rotations depends on both provision of forage produced on natural grassland and on grass participation in support of soil natural fertility. Grain-perennial pasture crop rotation with a high proportion of mixtures saturated with legumes provides balanced manufacture of high protein forage. Such systems have the conditions for better use of photosynthetic active radiation, arable land efficiency is 50-60 GDj /ha ME, that is 1.5 times more than in traditional crop rotations. The proportion of biological resources in production process is about 60 percent. Seed yield is 0.2-0.4 t/ha. In addition, together with Trifolium roots and litter the soil acquires more than 150 kg / ha of biological nitrogen which enables subsequent high and steady crop yields.

Medicago cultivars with high yield (8-10 t/ha) and seed production (250 kg / ha), increased frost resistance and symbiotic fixing have been created. High coenosis stability is a specific feature of the new pasture variety of this plant. Salt resistant cultivars of Medicago have been bred for Russian conditions.

More and more attention is paid to Galega, one of the new fodder legume crops. Russia has 2 out of 11 existing species of Galega (Galega orientalis and Galega officinalis). Specific features of Galega orientalis are high efficiency of fodder mass, nitrogen-fixing ability, productive longevity, eight and more years. This crop has large ecological plasticity; it grows on sod-podzolic, grey forest soil and black soil with reaction close to neutral; drained peat bogs and briefly flooded flood plain backwaters suit it. Successful cultivation is possible at precipitations of 450-500 mm; at lower precipitation if irrigated. Galega orientalis is disease and pest resistant. It accumulates 140 kg / ha of biological nitrogen and more than 5 t/ha of dry matter with root and stubble. It is a good precursor for other crops. Galega orientalis is an entomophilous plant, and compared to Trifolium pratense is more often visited by bees and bumblebees, which promotes stable (0.4 t/ha and above) seed yield. It is used for green chop, haylage and hay.

In less favourable ecological conditions for legumes, mixtures of perennial grasses are used, the efficiency of which may be essentially increased by use of new highly - productive cultivars and mineral nitrogen. Nevertheless, it is expedient to keep the pure grass proportion on arable land below 25 percent of areas for cutting. The highest proportion (from 40 up to 50 percent) of sown grass will remain in northern regions of the European part, East Siberia and the Far East. Grass such as Phleum, Bromopsis inermis, Alopecurus, Festuca pratensis prevail, Arrhenatherum, Poa pratensis, Festuca rubra, occur less often. Recently new cultivars of Bromopsis inermis have been bred with yields of 10 - 13 t/ha and 0.3 - 0.5 t/ha seeds; also new cultivars of Alopecurus are being developed using methods of synthetic populations with yields of 10 t/ha and 0.2 t/ha seeds; new cultivars of Lolium perenne are adapted to harsher ecological conditions.

Using legumes is the main method of increasing productivity and improving natural pastures, meadows and arable land in most regions. In the forest zone of European Russia the productivity of improved grass-legume pastures with tetraploid cultivars and occasional irrigation is 6,000 - 7,000 fodder units per hectare, the accumulation of symbiotically fixed nitrogen in above-ground mass is up to 120 - 140 kg/ha and more (Kutuzova et al., 1998). In less intensive systems, without irrigation and fertilizing, the productivity of improved grass-leguminous pastures is more than 3,000 f.u./ha, nitrogen removal with harvest is more than 80 kg/ha, accumulation of biological nitrogen is more than 30 kg/ha. Improved pasture establishment based on mixed grass without fertilizer using mineralization of natural grass stand sod organic matter and with 50 kg/ha of nitrogen in soil ensures a productivity level of more than 2,000 fodder unit / ha, which is 1,000 f. u. less compared to legume-grass mixtures.

Grass-legume pasture productivity significantly increases with organic fertilisation to more than 4,000 f. u. / ha; nitrogen removal with harvest is more than 100 kg/ha, including more than 40 percent from soil, almost 25 percent from organic fertilizers and one third due to symbiotic fixation. Such a system should be used on organic grassland farms.

Grass-legume pastures treated with phosphorous-potash fertilizers ensure productivity level of 4,000 - 5,000 f. u. / ha. At the same time the highest - almost 70 kg/ha- accumulation of symbiotically fixed nitrogen is provided. The same productivity of grass pastures can be achieved at N120 fertilization (Blagoveschensky et al, 1999). Such a system of grass-legume grass stand establishment and phosphorous-potash fertilisation is more feasible for large agricultural enterprises, where manure, as a rule, is used for crop fertilisation on arable land.

Use of N100 with accompanying PK for legume-grass pastures increases productivity to 5,000 f. u./ha, but additional mineral nitrogen fertilization of legume-grass pastures decreases the accumulation of biological nitrogen by 3 times. It causes a decrease of legume yield by 2 times and available nitrogen has a negative influence on nodule bacteria activity and symbiotic nitrogen fixation intensity.

Using legumes for pasture improvement ensures both harvest and animal productivity increase. Productivity of cows grazing on natural mixed grass pastures is 9 - 11 kg of milk per day. Grazing improved pastures of traditional composition (Trifolium pratensis, Trifolium repens, Phleum and Festuca pratensis) ensures daily yields of 14 - 16 kg per cow and 4 ton annual yield. Cows with annual productivity of 5 - 6 tons are fed barley in summer.

Trifolium repens and Lolium perenne ensure significant advantages at pasture establishment. This technology is implemented in the forest zone of Russian Federation by the Tacis "Beef and Dairy Project" FD RUS 9603. Cows with annual productivity of 6 - 8 t and more have average day yield of 20 - 25 kg grazing on such a pasture. Russian cultivars of Trifolium repens are more frost resistant than imported ones, and Lolium perenne cultivars occupy the middle position amongst 15 western European cultivars (Blagoveschensky et al, 2000). Pasture improvement based on new cultivars Trifolium repens and Lolium perenne have great prospects, especially with global climate warming, because 50 - 80 percent of Lolium perenne dies in severe winters.

For stable and efficient pasture fodder supply farmers keep the most productive natural grass stands, improved with traditional grass - legume mixtures, as well as clover-ryegrass pastures established with adapted cultivars for adequate agricultural and ecological conditions. Productivity of improved sown grass-legume meadows in the forest zone is 3000-5000 f.u./ha, in the forest-step zone - 3000-4000 f. u./ha. Bacterial preparations increase the productivity of sown legumes. Inoculation of these plants with efficient nodulating bacteria increases the nitrogen fixation from 20 - 30 percent in natural conditions up to 40 - 60 percent.

Grass mixture composition for land improvement is chosen bearing in mind agro-ecological conditions and pasture. Dactylis glomerata dominates on sown pastures on loamy soils of European Russia forest zone, Bromopsis inermis - on sandy loam soil. Pasture legumes here consist of Trifolium repens and Trifolium pratensis; on more acid soil - Lotus corniculatus, on drained peat bogs - Trifolium hybridum: in the south of the zone - Medicago sativa. Lolium perenne, Festuca pratensis, Phleum pratensis, Poa pratensis are used in mixture with legumes, Alopecurus pratensis - on drained peat bogs. Sown grass meadows on flood plains consist of Digraphis arundinacea, on uplands with loamy soil Dactylis glomerata, on flooded plains - Alopecurus pratensis, on sandy loam soil - Bromopsis inermis, on drained peat bogs and flooded plain - Agrostis alba. Grass - legume grasslands consist of Trifolium pratense, on drained peat bogs - Trifolium hybridum, on acid soil - Lotus corniculatus, on soil with neutral pH - Medicago sativa.

In Siberian forest-tundra and northern taiga only grass is sown, in forest zone - grass-legumes. Five or six grasses dominate in forest - tundra zone: Phleum pratensis, Festuca rubra, Beckmannia syzigachne, Agropyron sibiricum, Alopecurus pratensis and Alopecurus ventricosus. This composition extends to the south, including Agropyron tenerum, Festuca pratensis on upland, Digraphis inermis and Agrostis gigantea on flood plains; in southern taiga there are also legumes: Trifolium pratense and Medicago on upland, Trifolium hybridum on drained peat bogs.

In forest-steppe and steppe zones preference is given to legumes in sown grassland establishment, because they bring better yields and increase soil fertility.

For a long season of green chop provision without quality decrease, pastures of different maturity are established. For early maturity in forest-steppe zone grassland with Dactylis glomerata, in the south, on pastures - Elymus; for medium term maturity - Bromopsis inermis, Festuca pratensis of forest-steppe and steppe zones Onobrychis and Agropyron prevail on meadows - Roegneria fibrosa, Medicago; for late maturity - Medicago, Agropyron pectiniforme v. glaucum, Elytrigia intermedia. Medicago and Onobrychis are the main legumes on slopes because they are drought resistant and do not require very fertile soil. Trifolium pratense and Medicago are used in mixture on northern slopes of forest-steppe.

Bromopsis inermis and Festuca pratensis are the main grasses in the forest-steppe, under favourable moisture conditions they are replaced by Phleum pratensis, and in the northern steppe Arrhenatherum elatius, Agropyron pectiniforme v. glaucum and Elymus are the main grasses. Bromopsis inermis replaces Bromopsis riparia on eroded slopes of the steppe zone. Roegneria fibrosa is an early maturing variety in Siberia.

Bromopsis inermis or Bromopsis riparia with Medicago are sown on deep solonetz soil with weak and medium level of salinisation. Grass mixtures of Melilotus in combination with Bromopsis riparia, Agropyron pectiniforme, Agropyron sibiricum on medium solonetz. Melilotus is sown on shallow solonetz. In northern forest steppe on shortly flooded plains Medicago could be replaced with Trifolium pratense or the two could be mixed; on irrigated pastures Trifolium repens is grown.

Poa pratensis is added to pastures of middle flooded grasslands in the northern and central forest - steppe. When grassland is flooded for more than 30 days and used for hay, Bromopsis inermis along with Digraphis arundicacea and Beckmannia vulgare is highly productive and long standing.

When limans are flooded for a short time, mixtures of Medicago and Onobrychis with most grasses are sown early in spring: Medicago - where the ground water is deep; Melilotus - on saline soil. Bromopsis inermis, Alopecurus pratensis, Elytrigia repens and Agrostis gigantea survive medium term flooding well when average temperature is over 10 C. Grass-legume mixture of Bromopsis inermis and Medicago, Elymus trachicaulus survive long flooding well (more than 30 days).

In the forest-steppe zone when grassland is cut for hay many times (3 -4 cuts per season) grass mixtures are similar to those in the steppe, but Trifolium repens and Arrhenatherum are not used. Medicago is replaced by Trifolium pratense in the northern part of Western Siberia. To provide drought-resistant mixtures when irrigation is not regular and air is dry in summer they are enriched with Agropyron pectiniforme in Western Siberia or Elymus sibiricus, Roegneria in Eastern Siberia. On big and medium river flood plains and drained bogs with enough nitrogen fertilizer pastures are of Bromopsis inermis + Festuca pratensis + Phleum pratense in all regions; Bromopsis inermis + Agropyron sibiricum in Eastern Siberia.

In the steppe zone when grassland is cut many times (5 -6 cuts per season) Medicago with one grass, on pastures - two grasses. In European part, Western and Eastern Siberia pure stand Medicago sativa is productive on irrigated meadows. On flood plains of medium-size and big rivers and on low grasslands Bromopsis inermis in pure stand or mixed with Elymus trachycaulus are sown.

Legumes-grass swards are established in favourable mountain regions: low- middle- and partly high mountains of European Russia and low mountains of Asian Russia.

Pastures for sheep are sown with highly active low grasses and legumes resistant to intensive close grazing: Poa pratensis, Festuca rubra, Festuca rupicola and Trifolium repens for patches with enough moisture and Medicago for dry patches. In middle- and low mountains of Asian Russia sheep pastures are sown with Elymus trachycaulon and Bromopsis inermis. Trifolium repens is the basis for artificial pastures for cattle in European Russia; it is used on soils of adequate moisture in low-, middle- and high mountains in European Russia and in low- and middle mountains in Asian Russia.

Pastures for cattle consist of Festuca pratensis, Phleum pratense with addition of Poa pratensis on soils with sufficient moisture right up to high mountains. Dactylis glomerata is a part of sward in low- and middle mountains of European Russia. In high land of Asian Russia pasture swards are established from Bromopsis inermis. In the Asian part preference is given to Elymus trachycaulus, Bromopsis inermis. Grass-legume swards for hay, consist in European Russia of Trifolium pratense right up to high mountains with enough moisture, Medicago and Onobrychis in low- and middle mountains, in Asian part mainly in low mountains and in some parts of middle mountains. In European Russia Phleum pratense, Festuca pratensis, sown with Bromopsis inermis right up to high mountains, in Asian part - Dactylis glomerata in low mountains, Bromopsis inermis, Elymus trachycaulus right up to high mountains. Sown pastures are normally established in low and middle mountains on 10 degree slopes, rarely steeper. In high mountains sown swards are rarely established and only on gentle slopes.

To improve arable land in northern deserts or semi-deserts, plants with low transpiration coefficient are used. Grass-legume mixtures are suitable for depressions; Medicago caerulea, Onobrychis arenaria, Melilotus, Elymus sibiricus, Agropyron pectinatum, Kochia are used. Shallow and stony, saline soils with a dense gypsum layer closa to the surface and southern slopes are not suitable for improvement.

Natural grassland improvement based on grass mixtures is used firstly on lands with extreme ecological conditions, unsuitable for legumes: high salinity or acidity, at long-term flood of limans and flood plains Grasses at high ecologically safe levels of nitrogen fertilizer are more productive than grass-legume grassland in favourable ecological conditions. There are economically sound advantages of productive grassland establishment on big farms, on land far from cowsheds for hay. There are advantages in combination of grass-legumes and grass lands, fertilised with nitrogen fertilizers.

Enrichment of grassland flora by oversowing into existing swards is significant in the increase of improved natural meadows. Oversowing enables increasing natural grassland productivity by 1,000-2,000 f. u. /ha. Cost is 3-6 times less than full change of grassland. Oversowing with legumes increases fodder quality, especially protein content. Enrichment of grassland with legumes is equal to application of 30 - 160 kg/ha of mineral fertilizers. Important advantage of meadow and pasture improvement is keeping agricultural land in constant use; oversowing enables restoration of degraded grasslands to maintain the environment and stop erosion of slopes and flood plains.

Grass oversowing in forest and forest-steppe zones is mainly on thin old upland natural grasslands, depressions, flood plain meadows of normal moisture, thin grass stands of pastures, patches where bushes and tussocks that occupied less than 20 percent of territory were removed, with Deschampsia caespitosa no more than 7-10 percent.

Oversowing is a way of periodically renewing legumes in grasslands. In forest-steppe and steppe zones of European part it is efficient on grass-mixed herbs of flood plains and limans when weeds and toxic plants have been removed. On sheep pastures oversowing is done when grass stand is thin because of too much intensive weed control. Oversowing is usually not effective on natural grassland on plains and slopes in steppe zone on the border of Europe and Asia - Ural, and in Siberia because of lack of moisture for establishment. Oversowing on more than 20,000,000 ha of natural grassland, enabled increase of fodder production by 17-20 million tons of f.u. and 1.7 - 2.0 million tons of digestible protein.

Fertilizing of meadows and pastures is the most effective way to increase yield, productivity and longevity, number of cuts per season and fodder quality. Efficiency of systems of mineral fertilisation depends on geographical position, floristic composition, ways of use, natural rock bed, soil and availability of mineral elements in soil. The key criteria in fertilisation systems are ecological and economical factors. The main limiting factors to fertilisation are production of ecologically safe fodder and avoidance of environmental pollution. Fertilizer application is forbidden in water protection zones. Doses of nitrogen fertilizers are limited to prevent nitrate accumulation (N-NO3) more than 46 mg in 1 kg of pasture grass of natural moisture. Permissible dose of potash fertilizer on pasture should not increase potash concentration in fodder by more than 3 percent of dry matter.

In the north of the forest zone on grass and grass-mixed herbs grassland the ecologically safe norm is 30 - 45 kg/ha of nitrogen per grazing cycle, up to 60 kg/ha for cutting, and a total 90 kg per season. In central regions of forest and forest-steppe zones ecologically safe norm should not exceed 45-60 kg/ha per grazing cycle and 90 kg/ha for cutting, total 180 - 240 kg/ha at normal moisture. Cost of nitrogen fertilization in this fodder is 15-20 f.u. per 1 kg in European part and 13 - 15 f.u. in Asian part of the country. Main elements of the fertilizing system of grass-legumes pastures and meadows are liming of too acid soils and application of phosphorus and potash fertilizers. Increase per 1 kg of these fertilizer mixture is 8 - 15 f. u. and more. Nitrogen fertilizer application (50-90 kg/ha) in limans of semi-desert zone increases hay cut from 0,8 - 1 to 3 -4 t/ha per cut per year.

Fertilizing is one of the most efficient methods of superficial improvement of natural grassland in most mountain regions. The top priority objects for fertilization are adequate moisture on low- and middle-mountain fodder land with little weed, covered by meadow and meadow-steppe vegetation, on gentle (up to 10 degrees) slopes. Fertilizer efficiency on steep slopes is less than on gentle ones due to shallow humus horizon and less humidity. Yield payback on northern and western slopes is higher than on southern and eastern ones. Nitrogen and phosphatic fertilizers are the most efficient in mountains. Potash fertilizers are used in combination with phosphatic fertilizers on grasslands with a lot of legumes to support their productive longevity.

Efficiency of nitrogen and phosphatic fertilizers decreases higher in mountains with enough soil moisture due to reduction of the growing season, in regions with not inadequate soil moisture it increases up to a certain elevation (1,500 m on Caucasus) due to moisture increase and then falls due to shortening of the growth period. Organic fertilizers are widely used on mountain meadows and pastures. Sheep manure is efficiently used on seasonal pastures. Liquid manure and slurry are used near cowsheds. Fertilizer application on meadows and pastures in ecologically safe regions enable the following yields: in low mountains with enough soil moisture - 5-6, not enough soil moisture - 2.5-3: in middle mountains - 4-5 and 2-2.5 correspondingly; in high mountains - 1.5-2 t/ha DM.

Appropriate micro-fertilizers are applied to pasture and meadow soil with microelement deficiencies. Molybdenum is applied on medium- and lightly-acid soils in forest zone, it increases hay yield from natural meadows and pastures by 20 percent and more. Boron fertilizers are efficient in most regions of forest zone, especially on light soil, including mountains. Copper fertilizers are applied to grasslands on drained bogs. Soil rich with soluble nitrogen compounds need more copper than less fertile ones. Manganese fertilizers are mainly used in southern regions and on calcareous soils of forest-steppe zone.

Fertilizer application on meadows and pastures increases the energy and protein value of fodder. Grassland fertilization enables a stable 7-8 t/ha of hay in forest zone, 3-4 t/ha in forest-steppe and steppe zones, 5,000-7,000 f. u. /ha on pastures and several-time hay cutting meadows, 10,000 - 12,000 f. u./ha on irrigated pastures in southern regions of the country.

Control of weeds and poisonous plants plays an important role in fodder quality improvement, yield increase and full safe use of natural grassland. A number of measures are used in weed control, including prophylactic measures which limit unwanted vegetation expansion. They are prevention of seed-formation and weed seed drift. Weeds are cut before seed formation starts on meadows, ungrazed patches are cut, organic fertilizers which do not contain viable seeds are used. Transformation of meadows for grazing is an efficient management method. Grazing leads to reduction or disappearance of some weeds, for example, Geranium pratense, Archangelica and Libanotis. Some unwanted plants only occur in quantity on pastures: Alchemilla vulgaris, Plantago media and Ranunculus. Occasional pasture use for hay is an efficient measure of controlling such plants. Many plants are edible for some stock species, but not for another. Horses rather than cattle prefer Deschampsia, and Nardus stricta, pigs prefer Rumex alpinus, sheep and goat - most of plants from mixed forb stands. Such measures of weed combat are used on farms with many branches.

The most efficient, simple and widespread way of mechanical control is cutting weed at the sown pasture establishment with spring planting, without nurse crops. Herbicides are used less compared to 1985-90. Herbicides, insecticides and pesticides are forbidden in water protection zones. Weed elimination increase harvest of dry feed mass of natural grasslands by 15 - 30 percent.

Optimal timing of cutting annual and perennial grasses, and rational pasture use, provides 10 - 25 percent and more productivity without or with little labour input. Time of cutting during growth or in autumn are the most important factors in optimal meadow and perennial grass use.

In the forest zone natural and sown meadows of different botanical composition on most soils gives the highest yield at twice yearly cutting. Fertilizer application allows three cuttings in central and western regions of the European part, two in Siberia. The second cut is difficult on steep slopes and in gullies, especially in the southernmost parts of the zone and in the less favourable conditions of Northern and North-western Siberia. To provide timely cutting big farms plant mixtures with different maturity times which allows extending the optimal time of cutting and increases raw material quality at the first stage of harvesting. They do three cuts on meadows with domination of Medicago, Lotus corniculatus in central, western and southern regions of forest zone.

In the natural moisture conditions of forest-steppe zone natural meadows are normally cut for hay once annually and with fertilising two or three cuts for hay. They only mow once in the steppe zone as a rule. On fertile patches with favourable moisture Medicago stands or grass-legumes are cut 2-3 times in European Russia, twice in Western and Eastern Siberia. In Southern regions of European Russia Medicago is cut at least 4-5 times to produce meal. Swards with different maturity times are established to prolong optimal time of first cutting, as in the forest zone.

Significant increase of fodder production on mountain meadows and pastures can be achieved using rational, biologically and economically reasonable systems of management. Main ecological factors such as altitude, relief, soil, vegetation, remoteness of fodder land from villages and the availability of agricultural machinery influence the intensity of grassland use in mountains. The productivity of big areas of natural grassland in mountains can be increased by rational use; at present they only cut meadows for hay once, and this is the main reason for low winter fodder quality. Repeated cutting for hay for natural and sown meadows in the mountains of European Russia ensure quality and productivity increases up to 4500 - 5200 f. u./ha. Nutrient losses through erosion on mountain hay meadows is half that on grazed pastures. Replacement, alteration and use of sward from grazing to cutting on patches more liable to erosion reduces soil losses.

Seasonal vegetation development on semi-deserts and deserts makes hay meadow use difficult as grasses coarsen quickly; natural hay meadow productivity is usually low. Hay meadows are mainly in depressions, flood plains and contain mixed herbs - grass coarse-stem swards: Agropyron on limans, quickly coarsening Phragmites on very wet patches. Moreover, significant pasture areas occupied by Artemisia-ephemeron, Artemisia - fine sward - grass and Artemisia - Eurotia types of vegetation. All these fodder lands are usually mown once, after which plants do not grow because the soil is dry in the second half of summer. Harvesting is done in a short space of time - during earing and budding, because late cutting leads to protein losses, lignification and decrease of feed value. Phragmites on flood plains, along channels and temporary drains, is cut before piping, because later it is inedible.

Fine-sward grasses are cut for hay at 5 - 7 cm from ground level. Mowing Artemisia (and subshrubs generally) is not feasible because it leads to elimination of some lignified shoots and dramatic vegetation deterioration. Cutting subshrubs and short bushes for 2 - 3 years in a row kills them. Ephemeron cutting is possible only in warm springs with sufficient precipitation (normally once in 4-5 years). Ephemeron harvesting enables storage of hay for 2-3 years. Patches with enough moisture, covered with forbs or forb-grasses, are cut twice.

Mineral fertilizing with favourable humidity increases the number of cuttings. Systematic cutting before heading stops of self-seeding and sward deterioration. That is why hay rotation is practised on tall-grass, forb-grass hay meadows of limans, flood plains and depressions (on years): 1-4 - cutting at the phase of earing - budding start; 5 - rest with late grazing at the phase of seed shedding; 6-8 - cutting at normal stages (start of earing and budding); 9 - late cutting (at seed shedding) or at normal stages with overseeding in spring. Patches of well-developed sward with high feed value plants are left to shed seed. Hay from pastures is fed to cattle in the second half of summer, autumn or in winter. This prolongs the grazing period on remote pastures by up to 20 - 30 days.

Pasture use
The key principle of pasture use is balancing stock numbers and pasture capacity. Rational pasture use is based on limited herd attachment to specified pasture patches. This is very important for farms with big herds. Efficient pasture use is when dairy herd is 200 head, young stock - 400, young heifers up to 250 head. Beef herds normally do not exceed 200 cows with suckling calves, fattening cattle - 200 head, sheep herds - up to 3,000 head.

Pasture use is most efficient with a pen system with cattle corridors and pastures perimetres fenced with permanent electric fences. A movable electric fence is used for one-day grazing patches. Optimal number of grazings during the season in the northern part of the forest zone is three, in other regions - four-five as a rule. In summer when cattle graze on sown pastures with legumes or with grass treated with nitrogen, it is feasible to add carbohydrate or mineral feed additives to balance animal rations, this is specially important for cows calved in spring and in the first half of their lactation.

In the steppe zone the supply of forage is ensured by a combination of natural swards and pastures sown with perennial and annual fodders. Beef cattle graze on flat and gentle slopes. Cattle have free access to water, including movable or permanent water troughs. The cheapest watering is natural springs or accumulating ponds.

The correlation of land topography and herbage type forms the basis of a rational use of mountain natural pastures. Steep slopes are used for sheep and goats and the gentler ones for young cattle. More level lands and gentle slopes with rich vegetation are used for cows. Remote mountain lands and southern slopes with short herbage are for sheep grazing. Such pastures are of little use for fine fleeced sheep in humid regions.

There are mostly two grazing systems in mountain regions: a daily return and distant pasture one. A daily return system is used with grasslands relatively close to stock buildings; animals are put to grass in the morning and return to the farm in the evening. This system is mostly used in middle and high-mountains. The distant pasture system is usual for farms in small hill sub-mountain and low-mountainous regions and seldom used in middle mountains. In mountains cattle normally start to graze the lower belt, then on middle and upper belts, and then - again on lower one. That is why the use of mountain pastures of different belts of the same mountain system is a single whole and cattle movement from one seasonal altitude belt to another is inevitable and justified in most cases. In mountains the steepest slopes and remote pastures are used for sheep and goats, less steep - for young stock and fattening cattle, the flattest and closest pastures - for dairy cattle. Foothill dry-steppe or high-mountainous pastures are grazed once or twice during a grazing season and low-mountainous mesophyte ones are grazed 4-6 times. Grazing patches on pastures with broken relief and stony soils are marked, without fences, by natural relief elements.

With use of natural grasslands at the same seasons every year there is a decrease of pasture productivity and of herbage botanical composition. Pasture rotation together with agrotechnical practices protect herbage diversity and productivity. For this purpose a rotation of grazing periods is introduced for individual plots. For example, mesophyte grass-forbs pastures are used in the first year during tillering phase, in the second year - from the beginning of booting phase.

Semi-desert and desert zone pastures are mostly used for sheep. In the north of the zone young beef stock graze, and on better watered pastures with lush herbage beef cows. Herbivores graze in a pasture rotation system, attention is paid not only to rate of grazing, but to grazing alternating years, seasons and months. Artemisia - ephemeron pastures with ephemeron domination on plains with lack of moisture are grazed twice per season, in spring at the phases of earing, budding of heading of ephemeron, and in autumn at the phases of heading, drying or beginning of Artemisia ripening, when essential oil content dramatically decreases.

Estimation of pasture capacity and planned herd movement is done annually and in due time, using geo-botanical data from many years and a weather forecast for the current year. Grazing of all above ground fodder mass negatively influences sward productivity. For 4 -5 years of such grazing the herbage yield decreases by 20 - 40 percent on average, therefore natural pastures have a permissible coefficient of 60 - 65 percent. Some plants can be grazed only at certain time; Stipa capillata pastures are only used till heading because of sharp caryopses which injure animals. Artemisia pastures are no good for summer grazing because of bitter essential oils. Cattle do not eat Haloxylon and most Salsola in spring and summer because of their high salt content.

Fencing and pen system can increase pasture capacity by 15 - 25 percent, and increase animal weight gain. Rivers, temporary streams, lakes, ground water and precipitation are sources of water. Wells and boreholes are arranged to get ground water for cattle. Water lifting is as a rule mechanised.

Hay and haylage. Winter forage storage is very important for Russia where in most regions the pasture period is much shorter than the winter. Hay, haylage and silage are major ways of conserving fodder. Most natural grassland is mown for hay. Grass drying in the field is the most widespread technology. Improvement of storage and feed value of hay is ensured by baling. Hay with additional drying by active aeration is mainly stored for highly productive animals and young stock. Hay pick up increase and quality improvement could be done through new efficient technology of grass treatment at cutting, insuring decrease of field losses twice. The main point is in deep breakage of stem by crushing with partially splitting along fibres and their pounding. Total losses of nutrient at legume hay harvesting decreases to 12 - 15 percent. Hence the feed value of hay increases up to 0.80 - 0.83 f. u.

Haylage is becoming the prevailing technology for perennial legumes and legume-grass harvesting and ensures high protein and energy fodder.

Silage is the main succulent winter feed; its feed value proportion of total bulky fodder (without hay) in winter makes up 40 - 45 percent of cattle rations. Silage is made from wilted perennial legumes and legume-grass containing 15 - 23 percent of protein using chemical preservatives is the most efficient technology for high-protein forage at the moment. At ensilage of such mass in pits with use of 0.4 - 0.5 percent of liquid organic acids the raw protein preservation is 92-95 percent, and energy value of ready-to-eat forage is 0.96 f.u. in 1 kg of dry matter. The technology of wilted legume-grass mixture(as well as Trifolium pratense, and other legumes) ensilage with use of biological preparations based on osmo-tolerant lactic-acid bacteria has prospects. Nutrient losses at fermentation reduce to 5 - 10 percent. Preparations have high ecological purity and low cost which also is good for their efficiency.

Grass meal production is decreasing due to rising prices of fuel and energy. Introduction of new technology of grass meal preparation will lead to an increase of its production volume, its quality improvement and decrease of fuel consumption (twice, converting to protein). Its point is in plant separation for leaves and stems when cut. Leaves are used for grass flour, stems - for hay. Raw protein content in flour made from perennial legumes is 23-28 percent, raw cellulose - 12.5 - 18 percent.

Silage and haylage are mainly stored in pits. At present concrete pits, meant for storage of large amount of silage and haylage (1.2 - 1.5 thousand tons and more) are commonest. When livestock farms are divided up into smaller units the majority of large silage pits will be rebuilt or built. The main condition of high quality forage preserving in pits is thorough isolation of the grass by plastic films.

Pressed and loose hay is stored in sheds and barns. Additional hay drying by active aeration is done in barns corresponding to rational location of drying equipment and conditions of high quality fodder perseverance. Fodder production strategic priority for the near future is stable provision of full feed value protein produced domestically.

Seed production

Forage seed production is an attractive and profitable business for farmers. Demand, especially for perennial grass and legume seeds is higher than supply, even the latter have increased recently, and the increased demand has to be covered by imports.

Production of new cultivars of perennial grass and other fodders is most efficient in specialized agricultural enterprises, located in agri-ecological zones corresponding to plant biological peculiarities.

Trifolium seed production is mainly in the forest-steppe and south of forest zones. Here grey forest soils and black soils prevail, vegetation period is 130 - 150 days with the sum of efficient temperatures (more than +10 C) equal to 1900-2500 C. Precipitation is low at the period of Trifolium flowering and seed ripening.

Medicago and Onobrychis seed production is most efficient in some regions of the steppe zone of European Russia, Pisum - in forest-steppe zone both in European and Asian Russia, Vicia sativa and Vicia faba - in the south of forest and north of forest-steppe zone, Lupinus angustifolia and Vicia faba - in the south of forest zone, chick-pea - in steppe zone, soya - mainly in the Far East with monsoon climate. Seed production of Kochia, Salsola, Eurotia, Camphorosma and others of different ecological and phytocenosis specialisation is feasible in arid zones of European Russia.


Institutional structure

The Ministry of Agriculture is the key organization, responsible for the development of agricultural production and forage production.

107139, Moscow, Orlikov per, 1/11

tel. +(095) 207 48 33

fax +(095) 288 95 80


The Russian Academy of Agricultural Science is the centre, responsible for development of agricultural science. It includes the Department of Forage Production, which plans and co-ordinate research done by Russian scientific institutions, including in the area of grassland and field forage production.

117218, Moscow, Krzhizhanovskogo Str, 15/2

tel +(095) 124 79 31

fax +(095) 124 78 76

All-Russian Research Institute for Plant Breeding named after N. I. Vavilov (VIR)

190000, St.-Petersburg, ul. B. Morskaya, 44

tel. + (812) 314 22 34

+ (812) 311 99 01

All-Russian Research Institute for Legumes and Grain Crops (VNIIZBK)

303112, Orel, Streletskoye settlement

tel. + (086-3) 403130 / 403224 / 403881

All-Russian Research Institute for Forage Crops named after V.R. Viliams (VIK)

141740, Moscow region, Mytischinsky district, Lobnya, Nauchny gorodok VIK

tel. +(095) 577 73 37

fax. 57701077

All-Russian Research Institute for Lupine Crop (VNII of lupine)

242024, Bryansk, p/o Michurinskoye

tel. + (083-2) 462760 / 741447

All-Russian Research and Project- Technology Institute for Raps Crop

398037, Lipetsk, 37, Boyevoi proyesd, 26

tel/fax +(074-2) 26 23 61

All-Russian Research Institute for Cattle Breeding (VIJ)

142012, Moscow Region, Podolsky disrtict, p/o Dubrovitsy

tel. + (276) 51 101 / 51 163

All-Russian Research Institute for Physiology, Biochemestry and Feeding of Agricultural Animals

249010, Kalugskaya region, Borovsk

tel. +(084) 546 34 15 / 364 30 26

Stavropol Research Institute for Cattle Breeding and Fodder Production

355005, Stavropol, ul. Abramova, 2

tel. +(865-2) 32 40 01 / 32 61 35

North Caucuses Research Institute for Cattle Breeding

350055, Krasnodar, 55, Znamensky settlement

tel. +(861-2) 37 16 69

fax. 37 75 03

Yaroslavsky Research Institute for Cattle Breeding and Forage Production

152217, Yaroslavskaya region, Yaroslavski district, p/o Mikhailovskoye

tel. +(085-2) 66 25 67 / 66 25 38

Siberian Research Institute for Forage Production

633128, Novosibirskaya region, Krasnoobsk settelment

tel. +(383-2) 48 34 09 / 48 39 11

All-Russian Research Institute for Soil Science and Fertlilzation named after D.N. Pryanishnikov (VIUA)

127550, Moscow, ul. Pryanishnikova, 31

tel. +(095) 976 01 75

fax. 976 39 39


Scientific support of forage production in zonal aspect is done in agricultural scientific institutions of the oblast (autonomous republic). Each has departments doing research on grassland and forage production. Agricultural scientific institutions include experimental agricultural enterprises. These farms have experimental plots to carry out agronomic research, including on grasslands and forage production from fields. Experimental farms carry out production check of results of forage production and animal husbandry elaboration. Experimental farms produce seeds of high reproductions of new cultivars of agricultural crops, including perennial grasses and other forage crops.

Unification of efforts and co-operation of scientists of different specialisation both in and outside Russia have an important meaning in acceleration and most efficient resolving of urgent problems of forage production. The examples are the effectiveness of research on symbiotic selection of Medicago, in solution of problem on forage preservation (Forage Institute and Agricultural Micro-biology Institute), creation of frost-resistant cultivars of winter Brassica oleifera and Trifolium pratense (Forage Institute and "Hans Lembke" Company, Germany), composition of genetic chart of Trifolium (Forage Institute and Hokkaido Scientific Centre, Japan) and others.

The most important factor of the successful and stable development of forage production is more active use of the results of scientific propositions and recommendations.

The main research is directed at the use of biological techniques in intensification processes, increased efficiency and stability of production, use of forage on fields and grasslands, use of the environment-formation role of perennial grasses on arable land and other measures on erosion prevention and soil fertility increase.

The selection programme is aimed at:

  • breeding cultivars of perennial legumes (Trifolium, Medicago) with prolonged productive life, high competitiveness in swards, resistance to diseases (cancer, fusariose, anthracnose, mycoplasmose);
  • On perennial grasses - creation of geographical and ecological varied cultivars for cutting and grazing, differing in rhythm of development, with high seed productivity; selection for forage quality;
  • On forage legumes - creation of Pisum cultivars which do not shed their seed, improved grain quality, increased ability of nitrogen fixation; Creation of Vicia cultivars with stable high yield, absence of prussic acid in seed and low content of trypsin inhibitor;
  • On Lupinus - increase of seed productivity in combination with resistance to fusariose, anthracnose and decreased alkaloid content in grain;
  • On arid zone forage plants (bushes, subshrubs and grasses) creation of system of mutually complementary, edaphic and phytocenosis specialized cultivars with stable high forage and seed productivity in drought years, with high forage quality, resistant to systematic grazing, resistant to soil salinity, phytocenosis stability, providing good compatibility with other cultivars in multi-species pasture agri- phytocenosis.

Manpower policy and education
There are fifty eight universities within the system of high professional education. 350 000 students study in them. More than 84,000 students entered agricultural universities in 2000. In 1996 only 5,700 students paid for their education in such a system, in 2000 - about 30,000 students, which is 35 percent of all first year students. In 2000 45,600 students graduated from agricultural universities. But only 50 percent of graduates get assigned to agricultural complexes, 23 percent go to rural areas and only 18 percent stay there.

On the 1st of September 2000 a new List of lines and specialities of higher education was introduced. From the 1st of September 2000 all Russian universities have introduced new (second generation) state education standards of higher professional education, which take into consideration recent changes in the Russian economy.

There are 285 agricultural colleges in the system of professional technical education located in 71 subject of Russian Federation. 259,400 students study in them. In 2000 94,300 students entered them, including 52,500 (83,2 percent) studying at state budget expense. Organizational work done for the last 2 years enabled improvement of the situation with rural young people entering educational institutions. In 2000 the proportion of rural youth entering colleges and technical schools was 74.4 percent, which is 4.2 percent more than in the previous year. A total of 137,400 applications were submitted, which is 7,000 more than in 1977. This allowed an increase in the proportion of youth accepted by competition.

There are 121 educational institutions in the system of further professional education. Every year about 120,000 managers and specialists go through training, including 15,500 who get professional retraining; 92,300 raised the level of their skill. There are courses on grassland, forage production and preservation in higher and technical educational institutions.

Recently agricultural universities expanded their programmes and list of specialities, including management, commerce and marketing. Educational programmes include practical jobs (for agronomists in summer) after each year of studying. Students - beginners get practical experience on training-experimental farms, senior students - on farm units.

Graduates of universities and technical schools work as specialists and managers of agricultural enterprises, recently - as farmers. Education of agricultural workers, doing direct work on breeding units and fields, including forage production, is done at vocational technical schools. Periodically there is training to raise their level of professional knowledge and their evaluation.


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For main problems on forage and pastures:

Prof. Dr. German Blagoveschensky

Agricultural research Institute of Non-Chernozem Zone

143013, Moscow Region, Nemchinovka

tel. +7 095 591 85 92

fax +7 095 591 92 87


For information on natural climate regionalization:

Dr. Lyudmila Shevtsova, Dr. Vladimir Romanenkov

All-Russian Institute for Fertilizers and Agricultural Soil Science named after D.Pryanishnikov

127550, Moscow, Pryanishnikova Str, 31

tel. +7 095 976 46 23

fax +7 095 976 39 39


For communication on Governmental level and cooperation with FAO:

Valery Popovtsev

Ministry of Agriculture

107139, Moscow, Orlikov per, 1/11

tel. +(095) 207 48 33

fax +7 095 288 95 80


For information on livestock production systems:

Lev Komarov

All-Russian Research Institute for Cattle Breeding (VIJ)

142012, Moscow Region, Podolsky disrtict, p/o Dubrovitsy

tel. + (276) 51 101

51 163

[The profile was edited by J.M. Suttie and S.G. Reynolds in May 2002 and S.G. Reynolds made some small adjustments to the livestock data in October 2006]

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