Republic of Serbia
2. SOILS AND TOPOGRAPHY
3. CLIMATE AND AGRO-ECOLOGICAL ZONES
4. RUMINANT LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION SYSTEMS
5. THE PASTURE RESOURCE
6. OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
OF PASTURE RESOURCES
The Republic of Serbia, in the centre of the Balkan Peninsula, lies between
42015′ and 460 11′ N and 180
49′ and 230 01′ E. It borders
The population is 7 498 000 (7 379 339 is the July 2009 estimate
according to the World
Factbook , with a growth rate of minus 0.468%). The main administrative
units are municipalities (165) and larger – districts (24). Central Serbia
has 5 466 000 inhabitants with 2 032 000 in Vojvodina.
Serbs comprise 83% of the population. Other nationalities, minorities
and ethnic groups are Hungarians, Bosnians, Romany (Gypsy) and many others
(more than 20) (see Figure 1b).
Slavs migrated to the Balkan Peninsula in the sixth and seventh centuries;
warring tribes settled in the centre of the peninsula then, from the ninth
to twelfth century united and created a state,
With changes in the socio-economic system and introduction of multi-party
politics after 1990, the republics became independent states with the
Due to its geographical position and history, wars have often been fought on Serbian territory. In the past two centuries and for many past, the longest period at peace was from the end of the Second World War to the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - only 55 years. This has left marks on civilization and economical development so Serbia is, according to many criteria, in the lower part of the development scale, even though it had brilliant minds such as Mihajlo Pupin, Milutin Milanković or Nikola Tesla writer and Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andrić.
The largest rivers in
Farmland is being lost because of constructing roads and buildings, facilities, especially near large towns. Farmland is being abandoned; fields are left to tumble-down. Statistical data on land under sown grasslands are not kept regularly but, based on previous figures and the seed trade, it is estimated that today, they cover approximately 155 000 ha. The main share of the land goes to cereals, primarily maize and wheat (see Table 1). The area under maize is constant, but that under wheat is decreasing because of reduced profitability, lower wheat prices and lower yields, especially in Central Serbia. The area of industrial crops remains the same, but soybean is increasing to the detriment of sunflower. The area under forage crops is static, although the number of cattle is decreasing.
The crops given in Table 2 occupy 80% of the arable land. They only reach
20 - 50 percent of their potential yields; this is a backward step compared
to the nineteen-seventies and nineteen-eighties when intensifying agricultural
production was through introduction of new cultivars and hybrids, higher
use of mineral fertilizers and better protection against weeds, diseases
and pests. The break-up of
Farm size, structure and equipment of farming households
Most commercial enterprises and cooperatives are in Vojvodina, over half of them have between 50 and 2 500 hectares (Table 3). Every business is well mechanised, has expert service and organizes production on a high technological level, so yields are considerably higher than the Serbian average. Industrial crop production is concentrated there. In Vojvodina before political changes there were large state-owned agricultural holdings (agro-industrial companies with from 2 000 to 40 000 ha) and modern mechanization; there was high production and high productivity of labour. With privatisation holding size has been reduced but quite large farms remain under individual ownership.
There have been many very unfavourable changes in Central Serbia: the agricultural population is falling constantly but the number of holdings is increasing; land is being abandoned and left uncultivated due to the inheritance law under which all children have equal rights, whether they are engaged in agriculture or not. Absentee landowners and so called aged households, whose number is constantly increasing, are common examples of this harmful situation. A positive tendency, although not common enough, is that young farmers now decide to engage permanently in farming, rent uncultivated areas or buy land and so increase their holdings. There is no well thought out policy on this nor strong support from government institutions. Since 2001 there are no data for numbers of tractors and implements (Table 4).
|2. SOILS AND TOPOGRAPHY
Distribution and height of mountains are as follows:
Lithosols Present in hilly mountainous regions on rocky substrates on slopes. These are very shallow soils low on humus, formed on acid and base rocks. They are not used in agricultural production, covered with bushes and tufts of grasses.
Regosols Found in hilly regions on approximately 50 000 ha. These are undeveloped soils, their mechanical composition is sandy, clay soils. They have a humus content of less than 15, low N and P. On this type of soil orchards and vineyards are established and a part is afforested.
Colluvium Present in South Serbia on approximately 200 000 ha. Has a high share of skeletal material. Humus and nutrient contents are low. Used for orchards and vineyards, also for afforestation.
Arensol Found in North Serbia (Vojvodina) on approximately 88 000 ha. Contain over 90% of fine sand, so the humus content is very low, as well as the N and P content. The most famous are Deliblatska and Subotička sandy soils which have been stabilized by afforestation and are now agricultural land.
Calcomelanosol This type is formed in the western, central and eastern zones of Central Serbia, on approximately 200 000 ha. It is formed most often on limestone, rarely on dolomite, above 900 m. These are shallow soils, rich in humus at 20% on which forest vegetation is well developed as well as steppe grassland. As arable land it is used for cereals, potatoes and sown grasslands.
Rendzina Formed on tertiary terraces in central
Rankers Present in mountainous areas on approximately 500 000 ha. These are shallow skeletal soils (20-40cm). Depending on the level of development two subtypes were formed: eutric on serpentine used in arable farming, mainly for potatoes and dystric with mainly forestry.
Vertisol Present on about 500 000 ha in central
Chernozem It is mainly present in Vojvodina, on approximately
1 000 000 hectares. The main substrate is loëss. Soil is formed on river
terraces at 70-75 m of altitude, on loëss terraces at an altitude of 75-90
m and loëss plateaus of 90-120 m altitude. The humus-accumulation horizon
is over 50 cm. Humus content on plough land is 3.5-5%, and on meadows
up to 8%. It has very favourable physical traits. It contains 0.2-0.3%
N, and content of K and P is good to high. This is the most fertile soil
Eutric cambisol Formed on flat terrains or mild slopes at 100 - 500 m above sea level in Central Serbia on approximately 650 000 ha. These are areas of combined deciduous forests (primarily oak and beech with conifers at higher altitudes). They are categorized as heavy soils (hard clay soil or light clayey soil). It is subject to leaching and erosion. Reaction is mild acid, the content of total N and K is medium to good, and content of P is low. Used for all field crops, orchards and vineyards.
Distric cambisol One of the most widespread soils in
Calcocambisol This is formed in mountain regions of western and
Terra Rossa This soil is not common and is found mainly in eastern
Luvisol This type of soil is present in western
Podzol It is present on small surfaces in mountain areas (over 1 000 mm of precipitation and annual temperature of 4 - 60C). Natural vegetation is conifer forests and Vaccinium myrtillis. Soil is very acid (pH 3.5 - 4.5), low in cation absorption capacity and with low base saturation. Humus is slowly mineralised so availability of N is low, there is less P and it is bonded to Fe and Al. This is primarily forest soil.
Fluvisol Poor developed soil on young recent sediments. It is present on approximately 580 000 ha, mainly in large river valleys. It is of variable mechanical composition: from sandy to clay. Humus content is 1-2%, rarely 3-4%. K content is medium and P is poor. It is used for field crops, especially vegetables near large cities.
Humofluvisol Present near large rivers. Ground water is at 1 - 2 m. Mechanical composition is medium heavy and has favourable water-physical traits. These are very fertile soils.
Pseudogley This is one of the commonest soils on the lower land
Humogley Present in the eastern part of Vojvodina and in valleys of larger rivers on approximately 370 000 ha. Natural vegetation on these terrains is hydrophilic meadow associations and broad-leaf trees (willow and poplar). Mechanical composition is heavy (clayey) with unfavourable water and air traits. Humus content is 3-6%, it has high adsorption capacity and high level of base saturation, especially Ca. Used for field crops.
Solonchak Present in Vojvodina, on river and loëss terraces on approximately 20 000 ha. Mechanical composition varies from sandy to clay. Humus content is 1 - 2%, pH 7 – 11 and the content of easily soluble salts 1 - 4%. Low content of nutrients.
Solonetz Covers approximately 115 000 ha in Vojvodina. Contains 0.15-0.25% of salts. Production value is low. On these soils grassy vegetation is present.
Temperature (Table 5)
Average annual air temperature up to 300 m above sea level is 10.9 oC and from 300 m to 500 m 10.0 oC. Above 1 000 metres mean annual temperatures are approx. 6.0 oC and over 15 00 m approximately 3 oC. Autumn is warmer than spring. The coldest month is January with mean temperatures from -6 oC in mountain regions to approx. 0 oC in the lowlands. The highest mean January temperature of 0.4 oC is recorded in Belgrade because of urban influences; areas up to 300 m have mean January temperatures of -1 to 0 oC; the area of Timok Krajina and certain river valleys have mean January temperatures up to -3 oC. Areas at 300 m to 500 m have January temperatures from -3 to -1 oC, and over 1 000 m from -6 to -3 oC.
July is the warmest month with mean temperatures between 11 to 22 oC.
Areas to 300 m have mean monthly temperatures between 20 to 22 oC,
as well as some places in south
The lowest temperatures in the period from 1961 to 1990 were recorded in January and vary from -35.6 oC (Sjenica) to -21.0 oC (Belgrade). Absolute maximum temperatures in that period were recorded in July and vary from 37.1 to 42.3 oC.
Precipitation (Table 6)
The area of Southwest Serbia, because of relief, slopes of high mountain massifs and the effect of the Mediterranean, has a Mediterranean precipitation regime with maxima in November, December and January and minima in August.
Incidence of snow cover is characteristic between November and March and sometimes in April and October, whereas on mountains above 1 000 m snow can be present in other months. January has the most days with snow cover - with 30 to 40% of days.
Extremes of precipitation from the beginning of recording to present time: the driest year was 2000, when only 223.1 mm of precipitation was measured in Kikinda. The year with highest precipitation was 1937 when 1 324.5 mm was recorded in Loznica. The highest monthly precipitation amount was recorded in June 1954 in Sremska Mitrovica, 308.9 mm. The highest daily precipitation amount was recorded on October 10, 1955 in Negotin, 211.1 mm.
Although there are no significant climatic differences on the territory of Vojvodina, certain specific areas can be pointed out:
On the territory of Central Serbia, due to greater diversity of relief, there are several distinct climatic areas:
Serbian agriculture, especially in the previous period, was important
for the economy in general in which livestock had a decisive role. In
the twentieth century
Cattle numbers are decreasing. In 1975 there were 2 264 000
head, with 1 184 000 cows and pregnant heifers. In 2007 the
number of cattle was 1 087 000 with 648 000 cows and pregnant
heifers. [According to the FAO database FAOSTAT
cattle numbers in
A major cause of low milk production is poor nutrition. Hay, a main component
of the diet, is of poor quality, few cows graze and silage is made by
few producers. The concentrate part of the diet is simple and consists
of energy feeds, primarily cracked maize. Even with such poor nutrition
the feed is 65-70% of the cost of milk production i. e. each litre of
milk is burdened by €.0.13-0.14. If the producer has only € 0.06-0.07
per litre to meet all other costs, dairy production is unattractive. In
the past decade, however, there have been some positive, spontaneous changes
which are not part of a well considered and developed agrarian policy
of the government. Young farmers, dedicated to long term involvement in
dairying, are expanding their holdings or getting new ones with more cattle,
20 to 50, or even more. They buy high quality stock, often from
Meat yield per head fell from 150 kg in 1990 to 125 in 2005 because cattle are slaughtered below 500 kg body weight; even calves of 100 - 200 kg are slaughtered. Beef exports in the nineteen-eighties and nineteen-nineties were 40 000 tonnes but have fallen to 2 000 - 3000 tonnes.
Sheep and goats
The protein and fat content of sheep milk are better than cows' milk
and it is more suitable for processing; ovine dairy products are in high
demand and command good prices. There is a problem of low milk yield of
sheep; there are no selected dairy breeds. There is no market for wool
due to cheap, high-quality supplies from
The dominant breed is the primitive Pramenka. In some regions like Sjenica, this breed has been improved by crossing with Württemberg, or, as second important strain, Pramenka crossed with Bardocca, characterized with somewhat higher milk yield. The second most important breed is a transitional one – Tsigai sheep, mainly kept in Vojvodina and the third with the smallest population, Pirot improved sheep.
Goat raising has no great economical importance because of their small
numbers 183 000 in 2000, 152 000 in 2005 and 149 000 in 2007. [According
to the FAO database FAOSTAT
goat numbers in
Goat milk and dairy products are in high demand as is meat, especially kid; a third product is skin/hide. The Balkan goat is predominant and is kept at both low and high altitudes; the Domestic Saanen is a poor milker (150 - 500 litres per goat annually). There are smaller numbers of Alpine and Saanen with milk yields of 800 - 1 000 kg. Goat numbers are decreasing on state farms but increasing on private ones. On private farms 5 to 10 goats are kept, a few have between 50 and 200 head. [According to the FAO database FAOSTAT goat meat production in Serbia was estimated at 550 tonnes in 2007. No data were available for goat milk production].
Selection of forage crops – Breeding for significant and reliable increase of yields and improvement of the quality of livestock feeds were main themes from the onset of research. Most attention was directed to perennial legumes (see Table 9), especially alfalfa (Medicago sativa) the most important forage. So far, 24 domestic cultivars of alfalfa have been bred and recognized, selected in Novi Sad, Kruševac, Zaječar and Aleksinac. They all show great potential for high yield of dry matter (20 tha-1), adaptability to local conditions and therefore, good persistence and high crude protein content (22.9% in dry matter). Various breeding methods have been used: mass and individual selection, polycross, creation of hybrids based on crossing of Medicago sativa and Medicago falcata; inbreeding was studied and used, multiple crossed S1 lines, synthetic cultivars created, etc. (Đukić et al., 2007).
Ten cultivars of red clover have been bred and recognized, as the second important perennial legume; standard breeding methods have been used and in the second phase induced polyploidy was used and the first tetraploid cultivar KŠ-27 tetra acknowledged. Yields of 12.3 tha-1 of dry matter have been registered with crude protein content of 21%.
Bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) has come into use in
White clover (Trifolium repens) is not grown in pure stand. It is used in pastures in mountain regions and for green parkland. In Kruševac a cultivar was bred which yields 9.9 tha-1 of dry matter with an average crude protein content of 18.6% (Krstić and Lugić, 1996).
For a short time during the nineteen-nineties there was some work on
goat’s rue, Galega officinalis, and one cultivar was bred.
But, despite some positive characteristics, this species has no future
Although grown on a smaller area, annual legumes are very important for
more complete utilization of soil, improvement of its fertility, and provision
of higher quality forage over a longer period, since they are mainly follow-on
crops, catch crops and winter crops and are used in all forms: green mass,
hay, silage, haylage. The most important are fodder peas (Pisum) winter
and spring vetches (Vicia spp.): broad beans (Vicia faba)
and lupin (Lupinus sp.) are occasionally used and soybean is sown
in mixtures with sorghum or
Annuals, such as sorghum and
Fodder kales (fodder kale, rape, Tyfon-turnip – Brassica crops) are important for better utilization of soil and production of high quality feed, especially in early spring and late autumn. Structural changes in organization of agricultural production, the desire of livestock producers to have a uniform ration throughout the year with as few changes in the choice of feeds as possible, as well as simplification of the organization of production involving more forage crops and different forms of use, have diminished the importance of these forages. So far one cultivar of fodder kale has been created in Novi Sad.
Perennial grasses are indispensable in natural and sown grasslands. Polymorphism
of these species and their large number enable them to be grown in all
areas from flat lands and hilly regions to mountains above the tree line.
Mass introduction of sown grasslands began in
For creation of new cultivars native populations or materials were used with determined variability. Methods of mass or recurrent selection have been applied as “powerful selection tool, designed for fast increase of frequency of desirable genes by preserving the genetic variability and minimizing the inbreeding within populations” (Tomić and Sokolović, 2007). By crossing (So) first synthetic generations were obtained (S1). Heterosis is used in intra species and intra genus (Lolium x Festuca) hybridization, but no commercial hybrids have yet been obtained. By induction of polyploidy the first tetraploid cultivars of Italian ryegrass have been produced in the Institute of Forage Crops. Recently, tissue culture has been used for creation of new cultivars. So far, 4 cultivars of cocksfoot have been created with established yields of dry matter of 6.5-11.6 tha-1, 2 cultivars of timothy (6.6-15.0), 2 of Italian ryegrass, one is tetraploid (10.4-15.5), one of meadow fescue, 2 of tall fescue (13.2-17.7), one of red fescue (to 10.6), 2 of French ryegrass (to 12.5), one of English ryegrass (6.5 t DM ha-1).
Numerous forage cultivars of major crops have been created but their
distribution and presence in production is uneven. Domestic cultivars
of alfalfa and red clover are dominant on arable land, as well as annual
legumes. Imported cultivars predominate for perennial grasses used for
mixtures, since production of grass seed in
For successful alfalfa production the proper soil choice is of great importance; many Serbian soils are quite acid, even types which have not been so in the past; chernozem and smonitsa, for instance. Mijatović et al. (1988) confirmed that alfalfa yields differ significantly depending on the soil: on alluvium in average over four years 16.3 and on brown forest soil 10.4 tha-1were obtained. Interventions to reduce soil acidity, if properly done and with adequate choice of material are very effective. This is confirmed by Katić et al. (2007) when on soil of pH 4.79 in KCl a dry matter yield of 12.1 was obtained when 6 tonnes of lime were used, compared to 0.84 tha-1 in control. Stevović et al. (2004) found a positive effect of liming only during the first year and concluded that the quantity of lime applied was insufficient for a lasting effect.
Fertilization of alfalfa is a complex issue. How much, fertilizer ratio and fertilization time for alfalfa in Serbian conditions has yet to be established with some reliability, due to very heterogeneous soils in regard to acidity and presence of available nutrients. All previous results show that major fertilizer elements are important and that introduction of higher quantities of phosphorus prior to installation is of decisive significance for good crop condition during the utilization period. Therefore, complex fertilizers are recommended where the ratio of nutrients is 1:3:2 and amount of phosphorus (P2O5) at least 80-90 kgha-1. Results of fertilizer trials on established alfalfa, especially with nitrogen, have been inconclusive. Some researchers present positive yield responses to fertilization, others not, but overall fertilization had a positive effect although it was not marked (Glamočlija et al., 1996). Thanks to biological properties and a good root system, alfalfa is photosynthetically active during the whole vegetation period and provides multiple cuts.
Although it stands drought better than many other forages and other perennial legumes, especially red clover, it reacts positively to irrigation. In conditions of continuous soil humidity it can provide 5 - 7 cuts annually. Maksimović et al. (2007) found that at conditions of 60% of field capacity they obtained over a four year period on average 12.4 and without irrigation 11.8 tha-1 of dry matter. Comparing research with average annual yields it is obvious that only a third of alfalfa’s production potential is realised. There is an important role for both science and farm practice to increase yields and profitability of alfalfa.
Red clover, a traditional forage, lost its significance at the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century with the introduction of high yielding wheat cultivars and maize hybrids grown with higher amounts of mineral fertilizers, but it remained in some areas on approximately 100 000 ha. Difficulties in finding a suitable place in the rotation arose when increased wheat density considerably reduced the possibility of under-sowing. But, thanks to its adaptation to more acid and shallower soils, especially in mountainous regions, it is grown on significant areas. The problem of its short life, beside attempts to breed cultivars which could be used for three years, is solved by introduction of bird’s-foot trefoil for which, unfortunately and unjustifiably, statistical records are not kept. Red clover has very low yields in the sowing year (2.5) and in the second and third year up to 15.5 tha-1 (Lugić et al. 1996). Problems of low first year yields should be solved by sowing of optimal densities of cereal, to enable under-sowing, or agro-technical measures, primarily fertilization. Red clover will remain an important component in mixtures for sown grasslands so it is necessary to continue to seek the most favourable combinations and to create cultivars with longer persistence and increased competition ability.
Technology for growing of bird’s-foot trefoil deserves more research attention and improvement of field technology, since it covers considerable areas on poorer soils. Radović et al. (2003) studying cultivars and populations established that dry matter productivity was 10.2 - 13.2 tha-1, which shows its high potential. Besides growing it as a pure stand it is a common component in mixtures. There is need to determine its proportion under various agro-ecological conditions and its ratio in mixtures with grasses since its competition ability is low.
Annual fodders – Annual forages have lost their former importance. High maize yields and modern maize growing technologies have suppressed other annuals. Simplification of the production process by reducing it to a few crops and avoiding more mechanization and use of energy, has contributed to such trends. Nutritionists avoid frequent changes of diet so producers are losing interest in other annual forages. But there is need for better organization of crop rotations and using the soil in a better and more complete way. This cannot be done without annual forages. Grown as main crop and even more so as an inter-crop (subsequent, catch and winter crops), they enable complete use of soil and provide continuous production of high quality livestock feed (Ćupina at al., 2007). All have high production potential, fast growth, very good or excellent quality and thanks to dense ground cover, they are excellent “weed cleaners”. All research in Serbian conditions confirmed that annual forages, in a very short time, give high yields in all production systems.
Ostojić et al. (1996) established that forage sorghum as
a main crop used successively from the sixty-sixth to the hundred-and-eighth
day after sowing gives 6.4 - 23.7 tha-1 of dry matter in the
first, and 18.7 - 1.3 in the second cut,
i.e. in a season it is possible to get 16.7 - 25.0 tha-1 of
dry matter, which means that for 84 days there was continuous production
of fresh, high quality forage. To improve quality, especially the crude
protein content, mixtures with annual legumes are recommended (peas, vetches,
broad beans, soybean, lupin). The same authors established that in the
first cut it is possible to get 18.1 (mixture with broad beans) to 22.2
(mixture with soy bean) tha-1 of dry matter. In catch-cropping,
it is important to choose a crop which provides good yields in a short
time. The previous authors showed that mixture of
Includes marshy meadows
Order Magnocaricetalia Pignatti 1953.
Unites marshy vegetation of tall sedges, marshy grasslands, near rivers and canals, in lowland areas and valley, sub-mountain and mountain pasture associations.
Alliance Caricion gracilis-vulpinae Balat.-Tulač. 1963.
1. Ass. CARICETUM VULPINAE-RIPARIAE R.Jov. 1958.
2. Class Molinio-Arrhenatheretea Tx. 1937.
Includes hygro-mesophile meadow associations
Order Molinietalia coeruleae W.Koch. 1926.
Includes sub-continental hygrophile-hygrophilous meadow associations – on deep marsh soils outside the flooding zone
Alliance Molinion coeruleae W.Koch. 1926.
2. Ass. MOLINIETUM COERULEAE W.Koch. 1926. sensu lato
Order Trifolio-Hordeetalia H-ić 1963.
Unites valley meadow associations within the flooding zone, developed in narrow or wide river valleys predominantly on alluvial soil
Alliance Alopecurion pratensis serbicum Kojić et al. 2004.
3. Ass. ALOPECURETUM PRATENSIS Kojić et al. 2004. sensu lato
Alliance Trifolio-Ranunculion pedati Slavnić (1942) 1948.
4. Ass. POO-ALOPECURETUM PRATENSIS HALOPHYTICUM R. Vučk. 1982.
5. Ass. TRIFOLIO ANGULATI-ALOPECURETUM PRATENSIS Parab. 1985.
6. Ass. CYNOSURO CRISTATI-ALOPECURETUM PRATENSIS Parab. 1985.
Order Arrhenatheretalia elatioris Pawl. 1928.
Includes valley mesophile pasture and plant associations, on deep soil, rich on nutrients. Also present in sub-mountain and mountain region
Alliance Arrenatherion elatioris (Br.-Bl. 1925) Koch. 1926.
7. Ass. ARRHENATHERETUM ELATIORIS Kojić et al. 2004. (non Br.-Bl. 1925. sensu lato)
8. Ass. SUNOSURETUM CRISTATI Kojić et al. 2004. sensu lato
Order Agrostetalia stoloniferae Oberd. 1967.
Unites mesophile grass plant associations that usually occupy river valleys
Alliance Agropyro-Rumicion Nordh. 1940.
9. Ass. AGROPYRO REPENTIS-POETUM ANGUSTIFOLIAE Babić 1981.
10. Ass. TRIFOLIO FRAGIFERI-AGROSTIETUM STOLONIFERAE Lj. Mark. 1973.
11. Ass. JUNCO INFLEXI-MENTHETUM LONGIFOLIAE Lohm. 1953.
3. Class Festuco-Brometea
Includes xerophile and semi-xerophile meadow, meadow-steppe and steppe plant associations and associations of Atlantic, continental, sub-continental, as well as sub-Mediterranean associations, on shallow and rocky terrain; also on somewhat deeper and more fertile soils
Order Brometalia erecti Br.-Bl. 1936.
Unites xerophile, xer-mesophile and even mesophile plant associations
Alliance Bromion erecti Br.-Bl. 1956.
12. Ass. BROMETUM ERECTI Z. Pavl. 1955. s. l.
Alliance Chrysopogoni-Danthonietum calycinae Kojić 1957.
13. Ass. CHRYSOPOGONETUM GRYLLI SERBICUM Kojić et al. 2003. s. l.
14. Ass. AGROSTIETUM VULGARIS Z. Pavl. 1955. sensu lato
15. Ass. DANTHONIETUM GALYCINAE Kojić et al. 2004. sensu lato
Alliance Artemisio-Kochion Soo 1959.
19. Ass. AGROPYRO-KOCHIETUM PROSTRATAE Zolyomi 1958.
4. Class Festucetea vaginatae Soo 1968. em Vich. 1972.
Grassland psammophite associations belong to this class (mainly found in Vojvodina)
Order Festucetalia vaginatae Soo 1968. em Vich. 1972.
Includes psammophite xerophile grassland associations, often found in Vojvodina
Alliance Festucion vaginatae Soo 1929.
20. Ass. FESTUCETUM VAGINATAE Kojić et al. 2004.
Order Astragalo-Potentilletalia Micevski 1970.
Includes xeroterm grassland associations on dry, shallow and often rocky soils
Alliance Scabioso-Trifolion dalmatici H-ić et Ranđ. 1973.
21. Ass. ASTRAGALO ONOBRYCHIS-CALAMINHETUM ALPINAE H-ić et Ranđ. 1973.
22. Ass. HORDEO ASPERUM-XERANTHEMETUM ANNUI Ranđ. 1977.
Order Hlacsyetalia sendtneri Ritt.-Studn. 1970.
Includes grassland associations of hilly and mountainous regions, mainly on a serpentine base, on shallow rocky soils
Alliance Centaureo-Bromion fibrosi Blečić et al. 1960.
23. Ass. POO MOLINIERI-PLANTAGINETUM HOLOSTEIY. Pavl. 1951.
5. Class Festuco-Puccinellietea Soo 1968.
Includes meadow-steppe vegetation of continental marshy terrain with predominantly perennial plants
Order Festuco-Puccinellietalia Soo 1968.
Unites meadow-steppe associations on extremely salty/alkali soils
Alliance Puccinellion limosae (Klika 1937) Wend. 1943.
24. Ass. PUCCINELLIETUM LIMOSAE (Rapc. 1927) Wend. 1950.
25. Ass. CAMPHOROSMETUM ANNUAE (Rapc. 1916) Soo 1933.
Alliance Puccinellion peisonis Wend. 1943. corr. Soo 1957.
26. Ass. LEPIDIO CRASSIFOLIO-PUCCINELLIETUM LIMOSAE (Rapcs. 1927) Soo 1957.
Alliance Juncion gerardi Wend. 1943.
27. Ass. AGROSTIO-CARICETUM DISTANTIS (Rapcs. 1927) Soo 1930.
Alliance Beckmannion eruciformis Soo 1933.
28. Ass. AGROSTIO-ALOPECURETUM PRATENSIS Soo (1933) 1947.
Order Artemisio-Festucetalia pseudovinae Soo 1968.
Unites meadow-steppe vegetation of moderate alkali soils
Alliance Festucion pseudovinae Soo 1933.
29. Ass. ARTEMISIO-FESTUCETUM PSEUDOVINAE (Mag. 1928) Soo (1945) 1964.
30. Ass. ACHILLEO-FESTUCETUM PSEUDOVINAE (Mag. 1928) Soo (1933) 1945.
6. Class Juncetea trifidi Hadač 1944.
Characteristic high mountain vegetation on shallow soils and rocky ground
Order Seslerietalia conosae Smon. 1957.
High mountain grassland vegetation at great altitude (over 2 600 m above sea level), on slopes
Alliance Poion violaceae Horv. 1937.
31. Ass. POETUM VIOLACEAE Z. Pavl. 1955. sensu lato
32. Ass. NARDETUM STRICTAE Grebenšč. 1950.
33. Ass. POO VIOLACEAE-NARDETUM STRICTAE Kojić et al. 1992.
34. Ass. DELTOIDEO-NARDETUM STRICTAE Horv. 1949.
35. Ass. LINO-NARDETUM STRICTAE Rexh. et Ranđ. 1980.
36. Ass. NARDO-FESTUCETUM FALLACIS Rajevski 1990.
7. Class Nardo-Callunetea Preis. 1949.
Widespread associations of mountain pastures and meadows, most significant plant is Nardus stricta
Order Nardetalia strictae Preis. 1949.
Widely spread pasture associations with Mat grass
Alliance Nardion strictae Br.-Bl. 1926.
37. Ass. HYGRONARDETUM STRICTAE Pusc.-Soroc. 1956.
38. Ass. MESONARDETUM STRICTAE Pusc.-Soroc. 1956.
39. Ass. XERONARDETUM STRICTAE Pusc.-Soroc. 1956.
40. Ass. ARNICO-NARDETUM STRICTAE Horv. 1962.
41. Ass. RANUNCULO MONTANAE-NARDETUM STRICTAE Kojić 1992.
Order Callunu-Ulicetalia tx. 1937.
Alliance Potentillo ternatae-Nardion strictae Simon. 1958.
42. Ass. TRIFOLIO PALLESCENS-NARDETUM STRICTAE Bleč. et Tat. 1964.
43. Ass. CARICI OEDERI-NARDETUM STRICTAE Petk. 1981.
44. Ass. FESTUCO NIGRESCENTI-NARDETUM STRICTAE Rexh. et Ranđ. 1980.
45. Ass. FESTUCO HALLERI-NARDETUM STRICTAE Rajevski 1974.
46. Ass. HELIANTHEMO-NARDETUM STRICTAE Rajevski 1984.
47. Ass. SUCCISO- NARDETUM STRICTAE Stanković-Tomić 1969.
48. Ass. OPHIOGLOSSO- NARDETUM STRICTAE Gajić 1989.
49. Ass. FESTUCO- NARDETUM STRICTAE SUBALPINUM Rexh. et Ranđ. 1980.
Regardless of the great number of associations only 10 are of high economical importance:
Chrysopogonetum grylli serbicum
Chrysopogonetum grylli pannonicum
Grasslands - areas and distribution
Zonal distribution of grasslands is related to orography and is not precise, but it represents conditions of habitat and production potential. In the classification shown in Table 10, valley low land area is up to 300 m above sea level, hilly region from 300 - 1000 m and mountain region over 1 000 metres.
The floristic composition of grasslands is governed by habitat. Since
Grasslands on lowland marshy terrain have no practical importance for livestock since they are composed of tall plants of poor quality (Phalaris arundinacea, Phragmites communis, Juncus effusus, Carex sp. etc.). Marshy grasslands occur on smaller areas in hilly-mountainous regions (Molinietum coeruleae, Deschampsietum caespitosae); unlike valley grasslands, these associations are composed of low-growing species and provide livestock feed of better quality.
Lowland grasslands are found in river valleys on mild or slight slopes,
that occasionally get flooded; they grow on fertile soils with good structure
that are of the highest quality in
From the practical aspect and according to floristic composition, grasslands in hilly and mountainous regions are similar and given in the text as a single group: grasslands of hilly-mountainous region. These are the richest from the floristic aspect, especially in the forest zone. They are also of the greatest significance for livestock production since, in this region, they are the main or sole source of livestock feed.
In natural grasslands there is a scarcity of legumes and quality grasses are scarce with a high frequency of forbs. The commonest legumes are: Trifolium repens, Trifolium montanum, Trifolium alpestre; and less frequent Trifolium pratense and, Lotus corniculatus. The most significant grasses are Agrostis capillaris, Agrostis alba, Festuca rubra and Chrysopogon gryllus. Species of other families, colloquially called weeds, are numerous; a few are of high quality, others of poor quality and some worthless, harmful or poisonous.
Grasslands are divided into meadows and pastures according to their mode of exploitation. Meadows are used for mowing (first cut) and grazing (early spring before growth begins and after mowing until the end of the growing season). Pastures, which are predominantly or exclusively for grazing, are on shallow and steep land, often with numerous immobile or loose rocks or stones on the surface. The Bureau of Statistics registered average yield on meadows of 1.8 and on pastures 0.5 t/ha of dry matter.
Improvement of natural grasslands
A decisive measure to increase yield is the application of mineral fertilizers
(N, P and K). Planning the quantities and type of fertilizer depends on
the nutrient status of the soil and production potential of the grassland.
Generally soils in
Fertilization of natural grasslands must involve all three macro-nutrients: N, P and K. Research over several years showed that application of one or two nutrient combinations (NP, NK, PK) was unsatisfactory; yield response was slight. Legumes present in Serbian grasslands are most often low producing species (Trifolium alpestre, Trifolium montanum, Trifolium repens with small leaves). If fertilization raises the share of legumes, yields are still low. Only in extremely humid springs, when a massive presence of Trifolium campestre occurs, can combination of PK give considerable yield increase. NP contributes to yield increase compared to the other two component combinations. Since Serbian grasslands have no potential for considerable increase of legumes, N fertilizer has the decisive role, but in the presence of adequate P and K.
Effect of fertilizer on botanical composition
The combination of PK will only contribute to an increase of the share of legumes if these are already present in the sward at 5 - 10% (Stosic and Lazarević, 2007). Radojevic et al. (1980) and Stosic (1974) established that application of over 80 kg/ha P2O5, without application of nitrogen, can influence a higher share of legumes in grassland positively, but total yield is not increased. Adjusted quantities of NPK mineral nutrients contribute to grass dominance so that grass makes 90% of total herbage. There is regularity in changes to the floristic composition of grasslands: almost all associations transform into Agrostietum vulgaris, Festucetum rubrae or their transitional forms (Stošic et al., 1989). A strong tendency towards the terminal stage of Agrostietum vulgaris was observed and registered when higher quantities of nitrogen were used.
Effect of fertilization on the yield
Depending on soil characteristics, floristic composition of the grassland and production potential, as well as precipitation, the following quantities of nutrient elements are recommended:
Compound fertilizers with equal ratio of nutrients are available on the
domestic market in
Application date is determined by circumstances. Since grassland soils are on slopes, it is recommended and practiced that all fertilizers are applied at the same time in the spring, before the start of growth. For natural grasslands, especially 500 m above sea level, topdressing is not recommended for two reasons: firstly, their production is concentrated in the first half of the growing period, in the first cut; secondly, there is a dry period after the first cut and fertilizers still not dissolved are present on the soil for a longer period.
Trials with and without topdressing show no difference in yields. The timing of the first cut has considerable effect on yield; when first cutting was six weeks after the start of growth and subsequently cuts were done weekly for eleven weeks, yield increased constantly (Figure 8). Somewhat higher yield in the second cut can be achieved only after the earliest cutting possible.
In deciding on fertilizer quantities there is a rule: for more productive grasslands higher fertilizer quantities are applied; less productive grasslands which it is the aim to improve are treated initially with lower quantities of fertilizer and as they change in regard to their floristic composition (see Figures 9 and 10) and improve, fertilizer quantities are increased until grassland reacts with increases in yield.
Choice of mixtures
The basic range of legumes is: from lowland to 1 200 metres where soils are not very acid alfalfa is used, on dry, sandy, more acid soils bird’s-foot trefoil is recommended. On fertile, moist, soils red clover is used and on all mountain soils white clover is included in the mixture. White clover is the least used legume for two reasons: firstly only narrow-leaved types with narrow leaves, sensitive to lodging have been used which are not very competitive; secondly, sown grasslands are mainly used for mowing. Trials of white clover with medium or large leaves are positive in regard to better persistence in mixtures but their seed is hard to find on the market.
The commonest ratio legumes:grasses is 20 to 30:70 to 80% of grass that is 10 - 15% weight of legumes and 85 - 90% of grasses. Mixtures in lowland crop rotations have a higher share of legumes (40 - 70%) and are used for shorter periods (2 - 4 years) (Lazarevic et al., 2004).
The main problem for grasslands in hilly-mountainous regions is how to maintain legumes. During the first two years the share of legumes is usually within planned limits; in the third and especially in subsequent years, the presence of legumes is considerably reduced (Lazarevic et al., 2007). When the proportion of legumes was planned to be up to 30% of the sward, bare ground after the third year may be filled by grasses so adequate cover is maintained but if that does not occur the empty space is colonised by weeds. Table 12 shows the commonest mixtures and Table 13 mixtures according to maturation period.
Provision of a steady supply of quality feed from sown grassland throughout
the season has to be assured by choice of species; no cultivars with different
maturation periods are available in
Table 14 shows examples of mixtures from regions where most of the sown grasslands are.
Methods for establishing sown grasslands
Sowing is mainly in spring, usually without a nurse crop, but sometimes wheat or oats are used. Seed rate of nurse crops is not usually reduced sufficiently, cover crops are cut late, often only at maturity. The seed rate for mixtures is approximately 40 kg/ha but under a cover crop over 50 kg/ha of is used.
Fertilization of sown grassland
The following figures show how fertilizers affect the botanical composition and yield of mixtures (see Figures 12 and 13).
Table 15 shows how legumes contribute to rationalisation of production.
In lowlands with the seed mixtures and yields given above, 0.45 ha is needed for a dairy cow, so, a hectare produces 10 000 kg of milk.
Up to 700 metres crop choice narrows, soil fertility declines and the growing season shortens, so 0.6 ha of land is necessary for a milch cow. In hilly regions (Table 17), based on 4 500 kg in a lactation, a hectare of land can produce 7 500 kg of milk.
Livestock production is completely dependent on grassland in mountain regions. Experience from demonstration farms shows that a hectare meets the needs of one milking cow (Table 18), so would yield 4 500 kg of milk.
Forage seed production is very uneven, especially for alfalfa, with yields
varying between 150 to 1 000 kg/ha, primarily due to weather
at flowering and pollination. Seed is mainly harvested from the second
cut when flowering coincides with a hot, dry period and numbers of pollinating
insects are high. Such conditions do not favour good growth of alfalfa.
Demand for red clover seed and especially for bird's-foot trefoil is
partially satisfied domestically. Production of seed of perennial grasses
The main reason for inadequate supply is absent or poor links in the
production system, processing and marketing. There has been a decrease
in seed marketed recently; areas for seed production were reduced due
to the reduction in livestock numbers. The greatest oscillations in production
are for alfalfa and red clover; their seed is obtained from combined feed
- seed, usually from the second cut from dense stands (12.5 - 20 cm rows).
In good years, but very rarely, production meets domestic demand and some
remains for export. Seed of perennial grasses is always imported. Currently
seed of only four grasses is produced in
Hay is usually dried on the field. After cutting and possibly conditioning,
herbage is turned to accelerate drying. Haymaking has the greatest losses,
on average 30-40% of dry matter and 60% of carotene is lost. Losses increase
with frequency of mechanical handling. Recently pick-up balers have come
into use; small ones making bales of 15 to 20 kg are used in lowlands
and are spreading slowly in the hilly-mountainous region. Every year hundreds
of second-hand balers are imported from
In mountain regions hay is usually stacked out of doors. In hilly and especially lowland regions it is stored in barns, or lofts above stables. Baled hay is stacked, protected with plastic covers.
Types of silo.Various types of silo are used, from expensive, permanent ones of good quality to improvised ones. Silo type determines the losses as well as fermentation conditions and silage quality. When it was being introduced silage was made in temporary silos (Dinic and Djordjević, 2005); for instance, it was made in small surface stacks, or silo piles, where terrain is slightly elevated. Sometimes small silos are made of wooden planks and covered with plastic. Most farms make silage in permanent facilities of more solid material: concrete, concrete blocks, bricks, metal or special plastics. The commonest are silos built on the surface, the sidewalls are of reinforced concrete, the floor is concrete with an adequate slope; silo trenches are often covered. Tower silos are rare.
Mechanization necessary for preparation and utilization of silage. Lack of suitable machinery was a major reason for the slow introduction of silage. Suitability of machinery determines the quality of silage. Basic mechanization for ensiling whole-crop maize is the single row silo harvester, rarely a two-row silo combine. Recently import of second-hand single and two-row silo combines is increasing; some self-propelled combines are recorded. For grass silage forage harvesters and self-loading trailers are used. For silage transport, conventional single axle or two axle trailers with side extensions are used, rarely special types or self-loading and unloading trailers. Silage is compacted with conventional tractors, rarely caterpillars. Extracting of silage on small farms is done manually.
|6. OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
OF PASTURE RESOURCES
What has to be done to change this situation?
The agricultural advisory service is not developed to the extent where it can provide reliable and timely assistance to producers.
Improving livestock and forage production
Selection measures include: cattle shows, milk recording of registered cows, recording of bull dams, bull performance testing, biological bull test, progeny testing for fattening traits, progeny testing for milk yield, etc. It is important that expert service should choose the breed (genotype) and define clear and sensible breeding and production objectives. It is important to define the goal, whether it is milk production, dual-purpose or meat production - that is fattening of young cattle. For Central Serbia (in the authors’ opinion) the right solution is a dual-purpose breed and that is Domestic Spotted cattle which are good milkers with very good fattening traits. For dairy production in Vojvodina the best solution is Holstein-Friesian or its crossbreds.
Improvement of forage production
Using known, proven technology the hay yield of forage crops should be stabilized as follows: alfalfa 10 tha-1, red clover 7 tha-1, bird's-foot trefoil 6 tha-1 of hay; for green forage silage maize 40 - 60 tha-1, forage sorghum 80 tha-1, legume/cereal mixtures 60 - 80 tha-1.
To improve the production of forage plants it is necessary to:
Reducing production costs: These possibilities include:
a) Change the stock feeding concept. Use whichever fodder is much cheaper instead of feeding “from the bag”. Grazing should be organized wherever possible.
b) Grow forage as between-crops, after-crops and catch crops, or in other words crops of "second harvest". Free time after cereal harvest of 70 to 100 days (July to September) with air temperatures, intensive insolation and low precipitation, with irrigation for the production of food. The degree of exploitation of soil, light, temperature, irrigation system, etc. would be increased which would lead to cheaper forage.
c) Change forage cropping patter. Increase the share of annual legumes. Introduce forage kales, especially winter crops (they mature early) and thus prolong the season of availability of green fodder.
Define production zones. Better agro-ecological definition of production criteria for arable and forage crops would contribute to cheaper plant production. Soybean in parts of Vojvodina, due to the low rainfall and high temperatures in July and August gives low yields; in these ecozones it is better to grow spring peas for fodder and cereals for concentrates. Peas are sown early in spring, and growth is over by mid July; the peas have a higher yield potential than soybean.
More attention should be directed to forage quality and the production of safe, healthy livestock feed. Increasing the use of legumes which are valuable sources of protein, is very important for improving forage quality. Through biological nitrogen fixation, they provide about 60 % of their needs in nitrogen. When legumes have been ploughed in the soil is more fertile and cleaner of weeds since these are crops with good soil cover.
More attention should be given to following the optimal stages in the development of plants especially in regard to mowing of meadows (usually late), losses in processing, conservation and storing of hay, haylage, silage, etc.
In fodder production rational use of pesticides and mineral fertilizers is a significant issue, as well as monitoring the quality of livestock feed in regard to their content of harmful substances (nitrates, nitrites, heavy metals, pesticide residues).
After-crops, crops following cereals and between-crops used as cover crops, especially winter crops for livestock, or green manure contribute considerably to protecting and conserving the soil. With deeper and better ploughing, more fertilizers and pesticides, use of high yielding cultivars and hybrids crop rotation has become less important but not entirely neglected. Disregard of rotations has led to increase of all weed species, especially perennial and rhizomatous ones resistant to herbicides.
Increased and improved use of grasslands: Natural grasslands by their area extent have a great production potential; their more rational use would lead to faster development of cattle, sheep and goats and provide cheaper fodder.
Only through application of fertilizers, adequate balance of NPK fertilizers (2-3:1:1) and management (system with both grazing and mowing), yields can be increased considerably (up to 6-8 t/ha of hay). With the use of 150-200 kg/ha of compound NPK fertilizer (15:15:15) and 100 - 150 kg/ha of KAN fertilizer (27%N), responses of 6 - 7 kg of hay per kg of applied fertilizer can be attained.
Improvement of production on artificial grasslands should be carried out in two directions:
Haymaking will remain the traditional way of fodder conservation but grasses can be ensiled successfully and problems relating to drying avoided, especially in humid regions and wet weather.
Exploitation of grasslands by grazing needs to be reaffirmed in order to increase their productivity and keep down costs; more sown grasslands (meadows and pastures) will be of great importance, but high quality seed of perennial grass and legumes must be made freely available.
Introduction of new species, cultivars and hybrids as well as new methods for their use is also very important.
Improved and increased use of by-products of arable crops: Quick and expensive production of meat and milk production systems has eliminated not only numerous arable fodders (forage beet, annual clovers, etc.) but an entire series of crop residues (beet tops, green peas haulms for conservation, cornstalks, by-products of brewing, oilseed residues, etc.).
Increased use of agro-industrial by-products, such as raw and dry beet pulp, brewers’ yeast, beet molasses, soybean meal, sunflower meal and rape meal, apple pomace and grape marc, brewery waste, sunflower seed hulls and other products. Annual production of by-products in processing industries is: soybean meal 215 000 t, sunflower meal 75 400 t, raw sugar beet pulp 1 300 000 t, fodder meal 200 000 t.
The dependence of forage production on weather conditions can be reduced if modern irrigation facilities are built and existing ones better used.
More stable production of forage seed and a wider choice of material. Development of improved forages should be followed by intensive development of seed production for domestic markets and export. There are modern facilities for final processing of seeds, favourable soil-climate conditions suited to seed production material of most forage plants and trained persons. Production volumes of grass seeds, red clover and bird's-foot trefoil must be significantly increased
Development and introduction of standards for production and marketing of livestock feed including forage, for two reasons. Firstly, the need to standardize the diet in modern livestock nutrition, not only in regard to the quantity of fodder, but also in respect to quantity and quality of nutrients; secondly, the need to market fodder. In the concentrate industry there are certain standards, whereas in the marketing of fodder and livestock feeds (roughage) there are no standards.
Changes in production and standardization of the quality of livestock feed and technology of livestock nutrition, together with selection and improvement, should contribute to the increase of stock numbers and production per head.
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The authors would like to thank their colleague Mr D. Terzic for his technical assistance in preparing this text.
[The profile was prepared in April/May 2009 and edited by J.M. Suttie and S.G. Reynolds in May 2009]