Forage characterization of Carajás grass (<i>Cenchrus purpureus</i> × <i>C. americanus</i>) fertilized with a range of doses of protected urea under irrigation during the growing season
The objective of this study was to assess the agronomic and nutritional responses of Carajás grass (Cenchrus purpureus × C. americanus, syn. Pennisetum purpureum × P. glaucum, cultivar ‘Carajás’) fertilized with protected urea. The experimental design was completely randomized blocks in split-plot arrangement over time. The treatments consisted of 5 levels of nitrogen (0, 100, 200, 400 and 800 kg N/ha/year) and measurements were made over 2 seasons (spring 2015 and summer 2016), with 8 replicates. Leaf and stem elongation and senescence rate of tillers increased as N dosage increased, while tiller density, leaf:stem ratio, live:dead material ratio and phyllochron declined. Forage biomass increased with N dosage reaching 47 t DM green forage/ha at 800 kg N/ha but DM production per unit of N applied declined dramatically as level of N applied increased. There was no effect of season. For crude protein (CP) and fiber concentrations, a positive effect was observed with increasing N application, with maximum CP% of 172 g/kg with 800 kg N/ha in spring. Further studies are warranted to determine if economics indicate that the higher fertilizer levels are justified and even protected urea should still be applied on a number of occasions, but still less often than conventional urea, rather than as a single dose at the beginning of spring.