Biomass yield and fodder quality of Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) as affected by Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) intercrop and planting distance
The study sought to investigate the effect of two planting distances and Pigeon Pea (Cajanus cajan) intercrop on the biomass yield, chemical composition and in vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum). The treatments were laid in a 2x2 factorial RCBD. The factors were two planting distances (0.5x0.5 and 0.5x1m) and two levels of intercrop (Pigeon Pea intercrop and sole Napier grass). At 90-days, the grasses were harvested and biomass yield measured. The fodder was separated into leaves and stems for chemical and digestibility analysis in 2x2x2 factorial in CRD. The interaction at all levels was not significant for all the parameters. There was a significant main effect of planting distance, intercrop and botanical fraction on biomass yield, plant height, tiller number and fodder quality. Whilst biomass yield was higher (P=0.02) in the 0.5x0.5m, no significant difference was recorded in the effect of the intercrop. Whilst intercrop affected (P<0.05) IVOMD and ME, botanical fraction significantly affected DM, CP and ME. The leaf fraction had more (P<0.05) DM, CP and ME than the stem fraction. The study revealed that close planting distance enhanced biomass yield whilst Pigeon Pea intercrop and botanical fraction affected fodder quality of Napier grass.