The use of nitrogen, phosphorus and lime to limit the competitive ability of Aristida armata in the establishment phase Academic Article uri icon


  • The de Wit replacement series methodology was used to see if applying phosphorus, nitrogen and lime to the sandy red earth soils of mulga grazing lands can give a competitive advantage to the desirable species Cenchrus ciliaris C.V. U.S.A., Digitaria ammophila, and Thyridolepis mitchelliana over the less desirable Aristida armata. In monoculture, all species responded strongly to added nutrients, especially phosphorus. In mixtures, the preferred grasses responded even more strongly to nutrients, whereas A. armata responsed proportionally less. C. ciliaris, D. ammophila, and T. mitchelliana suppressed the growth of A. amnata in all but three situations: without added nutrients, A. armata was equally competitive with C. ciliaris; when P was added without lime, A. armata suppressed C. ciliaris; if P was added without N, A. armata suppressed T. mitchelliana. Adding either or both nitrogen or phosphorus usually increased the relative crowding coefficients, indicating that the degree of suppression of Aristida was increased by adding nutrients. Thus, C. ciliaris, D. ammophila, and T. mitchelliana appear to be equally competitive with or more competitive than A. armata if the soil is not fertilized and adding nutrients generally enhances this competitiveness. In all cases, except for A. armata/C ciliaris mixtures in soils low in phosphorus, the plants appeared to be competing for the same resource. The study demonstrated that A. armata is not a highly competitive species per se under controlled conditions and was generally suppressed by the preferred grasses, especially when nutrients were added.

publication date

  • 1993