Dry matter yields and hydrological properties of three perennial grasses of a semi-arid environment in East Africa

Citation:
Mganga KZ, Musimba NKR, Nyariki DM, Nyangito MM, Mwang’ombe AW, Ekaya WN, Clavel D, Francis J, von Kaufmann R, Verhagen J, Muiru WM. "Dry matter yields and hydrological properties of three perennial grasses of a semi-arid environment in East Africa." African Journal of Plant Science. 2010;5(4):135-141.

Abstract:

Enteropogon macrostachyus (Bush rye), Cenchrus ciliaris L. (African foxtail grass) and Eragrostis superba Peyr (Maasai love grass) are important perennial rangeland grasses in Kenya. They provide an important source of forage for domestic livestock and wild ungulates. These grasses have been used extensively to rehabilitate denuded patches in semi-arid environment of Kenya. This study investigated the dry matter yields and hydrological properties of the three grasses under simulated rainfall at three phenological stages; early growth, elongation and reproduction. Laboratory seed viability tests were also done. Hydrological properties of the three grasses were estimated using a Kamphorst rainfall simulator. Results showed that there was a significant difference (p > 0.05) in dry matter yields and soil hydrological properties at the different grass phenological stages. Generally, all the three grasses improved the soil hydrological properties with an increase in grass stubble height. C. ciliaris gave the best soil hydrological properties followed by E. macrostachyus and E. superba, respectively. E. macrostachyus recorded the highest seed viability percentage. C. ciliaris and E. superba were ranked second and third, respectively. C. ciliaris yielded the highest biomass production at the reproductive stage followed by E. superba and E. macrostachyus, respectively.

Key words: Cenchrus ciliaris, Enteropogon macrostachyus, Eragrostis superba, rangeland.

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