Effect of topographical aspect and farm system on the population dynamics of Trichostrongylus larvae on a hill pasture.

Abstract

The population dynamics of Trichostrongylus colubriformis larvae were compared over two years on contrasting topographical aspects north (warm and dry) and south-facing (cool and moist) hill slopes) on paddocks which form part of the 'non-chemical' and conventional' farm systems at the AgResearch Ballantrae Hill Country Station located in a summer-moist region of New Zealand. Sheep faeces containing 50,000 Trichostrongylus eggs were incubated for 4 days at 25 degrees C and then deposited on each of 36 sub-plots in each of 8 plots in a 2 x 2 factorial design in the summer (summer trial) and again in autumn (autumn trial). Pasture was removed to ground level and larvae extracted from six sub-plots from each plot 2, 4, 6, 8, 11 and 14 weeks after contamination in all trials. Larvae were recovered from two strata, 0-5 cm above the soil surface and > 5 cm above the soil surface. Fewer (p < 0.001) larvae were recovered from herbage (47 vs. 118) and residual faeces (28 vs. 246) from the autumn than from the summer trials. This coincided with more rapid (p < 0.001) faecal disappearance in the autumn trials. In the summer trials, fewer (p < 0.003) larvae were recovered from the herbage (101 vs. 182) and residual faeces (140 vs. 352) from plots on the south than the north facing aspect. In the autumn trials there was a rapid (p < 0.0001) faecal disappearance from the south-facing aspect. In the autumn trials there was a non-significant (p < 0.10) trend for fewer larvae to be recovered from the south-facing aspect (2 vs. 54). This also coincided with more rapid faecal disappearance from the south-facing aspect. There was no effect of farm system on the number of larvae recovered. Despite greater (p < 0.0001) numbers of larvae recovered from the bottom stratum of herbage, the density of larvae (L3/kg DM) tended (p < 0.12) to be higher in the top stratum of herbage. It was concluded that season and aspect have a marked effect on the number of larvae recovered from herbage and that this was inversely related to the rate of faecal disappearance.

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