EVALUATION OF PERFORMANCE OF SELECTED FODDER GRASSES AS ALTERNATIVE TO NAPIER (PENNISETUM PURPUREUM SCHUMACH) IN WESTERN KENYA
Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach), the most preferred fodder species for dairy production in East and Central Africa, is under threat from stunt disease that can reduce forage yield by 40 to 90%. Field trials were conducted at KALRO Kakamega (high rainfall) and Alupe (medium rainfall) to evaluate selected fodder grasses, Guinea grass (Panicum maximum Jacq) and Guatemala grass (Tripsacum laxum Scrib and Merr) and a new stunt disease tolerant Napier cv Ouma 3 on biomass production potential and morphological characteristics in relation to defoliation density (5, 10 and 15 cm) and frequency of harvest (4, 8 and 12 weeks). A Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) laid in a split-split plot was used. The influence of 4-weekly intervals of harvest alongside defoliation height of 10 cm on Napier cv Ouma yielded the highest dry matter (38.5t/ha/year and 35 t/ha/year) at Kakamega and Alupe sites respectively. Among the alternative fodder, Panicum maximum yielded the highest dry matter (27 t/ha/year and 25.4 t/ha/year) at Kakamega and Alupe sites respectively when harvested at 4-weekly interval alongside defoliation height of 10cm. Morphological characteristics significantly varied between interaction of species, frequency of harvest and defoliation height at both study sites. Nutrient and mineral concentration in the harvested forages differed significantly between the species with Tripsacum laxum containing the highest crude protein levels (8.9% to 9.2%) at both study sites, though the Acid Detergent Fibre (ADF) level was lower than in Napier cv Ouma and Panicum maximum regardless of frequency of harvest and defoliation height. The leaf part showed the highest concentration of CP than the stem part regardless of the species, frequency of harvest and defoliation height. The fibre content was higher in stem than in leaf part. The effect of three irrigation intervals (2, 4 and 6 days) and two fertilizer level (recommended rate of 100kg/ha of DAP and control) on morphological characteristics of selected alternative fodder grasses was examined in the greenhouse to determine their effect on fodder growth and deveopment. A RCBD with factorial arrangement was applied. Irrigation intervals of two days alongside fertilize application performed significantly better than the four and six days. Therefore farmers in western Kenya should apply fertilizer at recommended rate and irrigated at either two or four days interval to attain optimum fodder growth growing fodder. It is recommended that farmers in western Kenya should plant Panicum maximum as high yielding forage and Tripsacum laxum for high quality and should be harvested at 4-weekly interval alongside defoliation height of 10 cm.
SubjectEVALUATION OF PERFORMANCE OF SELECTED FODDER GRASSES AS ALTERNATIVE TO NAPIER (PENNISETUM PURPUREUM SCHUMACH) IN WESTERN KENYA
- Munyasi - PhD thesis.pdf
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