Botanical composition, yield and nutritional quality of grassland in relation to stages of harvesting and fertiliser application in the highlands of Ethiopia
AbstractLivestock production contributes to the livelihoods of the Ethiopian people; however, the productivity of the livestock subsector in the highlands is low due to malnutrition. Therefore, this study assessed the botanical composition, dry matter (DM) yield, chemical composition and in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) of the grassland. The study was conducted in a 3 in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) of the grassland. The study was conducted in a 3 in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) of the grassland. The study was conducted in a 3 × 4 factorial experiment arranged in a randomised complete block design with three replications. The treatments were three harvesting times (60, 90 and 120 d after regrowth) and four nitrogen (N) fertiliser levels (0, 50, 100 and 150 kg ha-1). Harvesting at 90 d and application of 100 and 150 kg ha-1 N fertiliser had a higher (P < 0.05) total DM yield of the grassland. Crude protein, neutral detergent fibre, acid detergent fibre, cellulose, hemicellulose, phosphorus and IVDMD were significantly (P < 0.05) affected by the stage of harvesting. However, N fertiliser had no significant effect on chemical composition and IVDMD of the grassland. The results confirmed that the grassland can be categorised as medium- to high-quality herbage if harvested at 90 d after regrowth. Further studies on animal performance and feed intake to develop grassland-based diets are suggested for smallholder livestock producers in the highlands of Ethiopia.
African Journal of Range & Forage Science 2010, 27(3): 117–124