Provision of an adequate mineral supply in the diets of ruminants fed mainly on grassland herbage can present a challenge if mineral concentrations are suboptimal for animal nutrition. Forage herbs may be included in grassland seed mixtures to improve herbage mineral content, although there is limited information about mineral concentrations in forage herbs. To determine whether herbs have greater macro- and micromineral concentrations than forage legumes and grasses, we conducted a 2-year experiment on a loamy-sand site in Denmark sown with a multi-species mixture comprised of three functional groups (grasses, legumes and herbs). Herb species included chicory (Cichorium intybus L.), plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.), caraway (Carum carvi L.) and salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor L.). We also investigated the effect of slurry application on the macro- and micromineral concentration of grasses, legumes and herbs. In general, herbs had greater concentrations of the macrominerals P, Mg, K and S and the microminerals Zn and B than grasses and legumes. Slurry application indirectly decreased Ca, S, Cu and B concentrations of total herbage because of an increase in the proportion of mineral-poor grasses. Our study indicates that including herbs in forage mixtures is an effective way of increasing mineral concentrations in herbage.
Grass and Forage Science, 2011, Vol 66, Issue 3, p. 415-423