Guideline Index

Chapter 2: Limits to Plant Growth

2.9 Management strategies to reduce limitations to plant growth

The amount of pasture growth is determined to a large extent by the prevailing climatic conditions of light, water and temperature. There are, however, a number of management strategies used to reduce the limitations and increase production, including:

  • Irrigation: Provides soil water when it is limiting.
  • Fertilisers: Provide essential nutrients limiting plant growth.
  • Soil ameliorants: Products that change soil characteristics to be more favourable to plant growth, e.g. lime raises soil pH and can improve structure in some soils.
  • Green manure planting: Increases soil organic matter, improves soil structure and the capacity of the soil to hold water, air and nutrients, and, if the green manure crop is a legume, it can build soil nitrogen.
  • Grazing strategies: Used to manage the amount of light captured by the plant.
  • Weed management: Reduces the population of unwanted plant species that are either competitors in a crop or pasture, or are poor producers in comparison to the more desirable plants.

It is important to remember that while there are a many factors that can be managed and manipulated, the key is to identify the most limiting factors and target these with cost-effective strategies to optimise production.

Where these factors cannot be managed cost effectively, e.g. extreme cold or saline soils, there is very little that can be done to lift production. The following chapters focus on managing the limitations of soils and nutrients to optimise production.