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Forages for the Future Newsletter No 8


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Published on Nov 29, 2018

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Forages for the Future Newsletter No 8

  1. 1. GLOBAL STRATEGY FOR CONSERVATION & UTILISATION OF TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL FORAGES Issue 8 – November 2018 Another year of implementing the Global Strategy for the Conservation and Utilisation of Tropical and Sub-Tropical Forage Genetic Resources is coming to an end, with this the 3rd newsletter for 2018. Closer collaboration with the two CGIAR cen- tres, CIAT and ILRI, kicked off with meetings between key technical genebank staff and the Global Crop Diversity Trust in April and again in October (p.2). Despite our ambitious original plan to bring together representa- tives of international and some key national centres in 2018/early 2019 to identify priori- ties for collaboration, that meeting needs to be delayed and perhaps flagged to happen alongside the 2020 International Grassland Congress. However, individual national cen- tres are using the impetus provided by stra- tegy implementation to develop their own collaboration priorities/opportunities. A first of such actions will be a visit to Australia by Brazilian (embrapa) forage germplasm spe- cialists in 2019. We see such interactions and the already closer collaboration between the CGIAR centres as significant moves towards a healthier tropical forage germplasm world. Upgrading the Tropical Forages Database is taking place in parallel to strategy implemen- tation; it has made great progress in 2018. This database enables users to select from 170 species the most appropriate germplasm for particular uses and environments, combi- ned with a comprehensive fact sheet for every species. Originally released in 2005 in the days of CD-ROMs and poor internet availability, the new database version will leap to today’s technology standards, desig- ned for use beyond computers: on smart- phones and tablets, and to be a key tool for forage researchers and genebank managers. Issues of taxonomy and using the currently correct (binomial) name seems trivial or an annoyance to many. But over a relatively short period of 10-20 years, the number of genera and species taxonomically reviewed and subsequently renamed is substantial. If these name changes were associated with little-known species, perhaps it would not be critical. Over the past decade, however, some of the most economically important tropical forage genera globally have been reassigned: such as the genus Brachiaria to the genus Urochloa; some Panicum spp. to the genus Megathyrsus, incl. Panicum maxi- mum (M. maximus); and some Pennisetum spp. to the already large genus, Cenchrus. There are other examples. The Tropical Forages Database project has taken the view that it must adopt a taxonomy standard to accommodate these ongoing taxonomic revisions. After much debate the project has settled on using GRIN-accepted taxonomy. This newsletter will follow suit. Hence, we encourage all genebank and forage users to do the same and, likewise, encourage their collaborators. It helps communication if we all follow one single system. Once more we thank the Crop Trust for its support of this Newsletter in 2018. We wish you enjoyable reading and a happy 2019! Bruce Pengelly & Brigitte Maass Evolving forage networks A number of new forage networks are evolving in Costa Rica (Photo) and Colombia as well as in Southeast Asia. Page 3-4 Forages for cattle in Indonesia Over some years already, tropical forages have made a big difference to Bali cattle keepers on the Indonesian Lombok Island. Page 5-6 Forages for the Future IN THIS ISSUE
  2. 2. FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 8 2 PRIORITIZING LEGUMES & GRASSES What are genebank functions? Probably not many users of tropical and subtropical forages have visited a genebank. How does it look like? And what are its typical functions? A genebank is a centre for conserving genetic resources under suitable conditions to prolong their lives. The form that these resources are conserved in is called germplasm; meaning the genetic material that forms the physical basis of heredity and that is transmitted from one generation to the next by germ cells. If you don’t know the difference: genetic resources are more like a concept of all diversity contained in a species, whereas germplasm is tangible, i.e. what you can hold in your hand. To ensure conservation of germplasm (i.e. seeds or life plants or tissue culture) for long time, it must be assured that seed is available in sufficient quantity, it is viable and free of diseases. Therefore, germination and plant health testing belong to the essential genebank functions. But also, users want to be sure about the identity of an accession as there may be quite some difference in terms of adaptation and/or other plant characteristics among distinct accessions within one species. Therefore, plants will be characterized morphologically and agronomically when they are grown out during seed increase. Nowadays, also often molecular markers are applied to characterize an accession. For adequate documentation, many of these data are being made publicly available. Finally, a gene- bank also distributes small quantities of seeds to users, such as researchers, students and/or development projects. Have you ever requested forage germplasm? Brigitte Maass Definitions from the Glossary of the Crop Genebank Knowledge Base.    Abbreviations & Acronyms ACIAR Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research CATIE Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza, Costa Rica CGIAR Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research CIAT Centro International de Agricultura Tropical CNPL National Chamber of Milk Producers, Costa Rica CORFOGA Corporación Ganadera, Costa Rica CP Crude protein CRFN Costa Rican Forage Network cv. Cultivar – registered, commercial variety DM Dry matter EARTH Escuela de Agricultura de la Región Tropical Húmeda, a university in Costa Rica EC-LEDS Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies One of the recommendations of the Global Strategy for the Conservation and Utilisation of Tropical and Sub-Tropical Forage Genetic Resources was that the two International Centers, CIAT and ILRI, should join forces more closely and strive to harmonize the curation of their forage germplasm collect- ions. After an initial meeting in April this year (see NL #7, p. 4), this has been pursued during 2018 by comparing all activities in detail, by both revising written documents of operating and site visits to the two gene- banks located in Cali, Colombia and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For the first time, technical teams from the two centers have been brought together in October 2018. Workshop participants from Colombia and Ethiopia in front of the new ILRI genebank building, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. PHOTO: S Landersz Abbreviations & Acronyms – contd. FITTACORI Fundación para el Fomento y Promoción de la Investigación y Transferencia de Tecnología Agropecuaria de Costa Rica ILRI International Livestock Research Institute INTA National Institute of Agricricultural Inno- vation and Technology Transfer, CRI INTA National Inst. of Agric. Technol., Argentina KALRO Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization MAG Ministerio de Agricultura, Costa Rica NAMA National Appropriate Mitigation Actions R&D Research and development TEC Institute of Technology, Costa Rica TSTF Tropical and Sub-Tropical Forages UCR Universidad de Costa Rica UNA Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica UNRAM University of Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia USAID US Agency for International Development USDA US Department of Agriculture UTN Universidad Técnica Nacional, Costa Rica Arcenio Ciprian (CIAT) and Asebe Abdena (ILRI) talking forages at ILRI’s Zwai site in Ethiopia. PHOTO: BLMaass The format of the workshop was that relatively few plenary sessions took place where presentations were made. Most time was spent in discussions within concurrent thematic technical groups. Adequate time was provided for observing technical experiences, for exchanging views and for gaining lessons, while hands-on genebank work was demonstrated at the working place at ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ahead of the workshop, staff in charge of field operations in Colombia and Ethiopia spent 2 days to visit the ILRI Debre Zeit and Zwai field sites to observe seed regeneration and processing practices in detail. They also got to know the field genebanks, where some important grass collections are conserved, such as Urochloa (syn. Brachiaria) and Megathyrsus (syn. Panicum). The overall spirit of participants was one of a lot of curiosity and excitement. For the Colombians it was a unique experience to travel to an African country and learn from their peers. Interestingly, there were no real language barriers. The Ethiopians, on the other hand, shared and demonstrated their daily practices without any reservation. In the final discussions, plans were made how to improve both efficiency and quality of operations of these two genebanks for enhancing germplasm conservation and utilization of tropical and subtropical forages. And of course the Ethiopians expressed the wish to gain a similar experience by visiting CIAT in Colombia. Brigitte Maass Harmonizing CIAT & ILRI forage germplasm collections
  3. 3. FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 8 3 Background In October 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Chamber of Milk Producers of Costa Rica (CNPL) held a workshop aimed at diagnosing the competitiveness of dairy operations in the country. Supported by the Interamerican Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), they determined that both public and private institutions should focus on R&D, extension, and innovations in forages in order to increase the competitive- ness and resilience of dairy operations in the next decade. Following a presidential decree, Costa Rica declared its National Strategy for Low- Carbon Livestock in November 2015. Along with that strategy, 2 acting bodies were created: Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) and the Costa Rican Forage Network (CRFN). Among others, both organizations have the objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CRFN specifically aims to implement and transfer technologies related to forage production that are nationally appropriate for livestock operations in Costa Rica. NAMA seeks to  intensify livestock production,  promote adaptation to climate change, &  support the mitigation of greenhouse gases in the national livestock sector. Members and goals of CRFN A diverse group of institutions has been involved with the development of CRFN, representing academia (UCR, CATIE, UNA, UTN, TEC, EARTH), government (MAG, INTA), and the private sector (CORFOGA, CNPL)—for acronyms see page 2. Among other goals, CRFN will define and prioritize research and extension projects that have potential to impact livestock operations in the short- and long-term. CRFN will provide input for members to submit proposals on relevant research activities to funding agencies. Approval and support of CRFN would strengthen the impact of such projects at a broader scale. Additionally, CRFN has been holding an Annual Forage Meeting since November 2015, which has had increasing attendance each year. The upcoming meeting will take place in Atenas, 3-5 April 2019. Third annual forage meeting in Atenas, Costa Rica. PHOTO: LA Villalobos Main achievements to date Some key achievements of CRFN in the past 5 years have been:  Establishing an Online platform for sharing publications of CRFN members (SIDALC-IICA);  Professional database with forage researchers and specialists (Agriperfiles- IICA);  Gateway and oversight for local and international funding (FITTACORI, USDA, EC-LEDS);  List of available resources and tools for research among CRFN institutions and members;  Annual reports detailing activities and projects that are presented to members and government authorities;  Use of social networks for outreach of extension activities. Current research interests An effort is underway to prioritize the research objectives most relevant to livestock operations in the country. Due to limited funding sources, however, topics were characterized on a timeline that considers current available resources of CRFN members as well as prospective equipment acquisitions. Ongoing projects In the past 2 years, 6 research projects have been funded by the Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies (EC- LEDS) program and USAID (Table). CRFN owes its successes to the efforts developed by both public and private institutions and to input from each and every researcher and technician interested in contributing to new outcomes for livestock operations in the years to come. Ideally, this overview of CRFN’s achievements will attract more participants to join the effort, as we believe our goals can be transferred and replicated to benefit the future of livestock operations across Costa Rica and elsewhere. BY: Luis A Villalobos-V (Univ. Costa Rica), Daniel Sanabria (National Dairy Association), Jorge Segura (Ministry of Agriculture) CONTACT: LA Villalobos (Email: Costa Rican Forage Network (CRFN): A collaborative effort towards the sustainability of livestock operations Project Principal Investigator + Affiliation Aim Use of tree marigold (Tithonia diversifolia) as a supplement for dairy cattle A Alpizar, UNA To evaluate substitution levels of concentrate on milk production, quality and costs. Guatemala grass (Tripsacum andersonii) for green-chop + silage under strip irrigation L Pineda, UCR To measure grass yield + quality with strip irrigation during the dry season in the North Pacific of Costa Rica. Yield, quality + greenhouse gas emissions of Lolium multiflorum cv. Jumbo at 2 altitudes with 3 N fertilizers L Villalobos, UCR To evaluate grass productivity by assessing yield, regrowth capacity, nutritional value, and GHG emissions. Yield and persistence of cool-season grass as monoculture or associated with kikuyu grass under grazing systems. W Ramirez, INTA To enhance DM intake of grazing dairy cattle through the establishment of cool-season forages in perennial pastures. In-situ degradation of T. diversifolia and enteric methane emissions V Arronis, INTA To estimate the ruminal degradation of tree marigold at different phenological stages. Dry matter yield and quality of Urochloa brizantha (syn. Brachiaria brizantha) cv. Diamantes 1 in Costa Rica’s Central Pacific E Orozco, INTA To determine the optimum harvest stage of Diamantes 1-Brachiaria from 5 stages of regrowth.
  4. 4. FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 8 4 Forages network in Colombia The 2nd meeting of the Colombian Forage Network was held 5–6 September 2018 at the Nataima Research Center in Espinal, Tolima department, where advances made by the CIAT-Agrosavia project were showcased. … The workshop brought together experts from CIAT and Agrosavia (formerly Corpoica) national-level research centers in the fields of agronomy, zootechnics, livestock production, plant breeding, plant physiology, soils, mole- cular biology, chemistry, and socioeconomics. The 1st meeting was held in April 2018 at the Turipaná Research Center in Cereté, Córdoba department. On 16 Nov. 2018, Agrosavia released a new Megathyrsus cultivar ‘Agrosavia Sabanera’, which is a product of the Forages Network. Read more of this article in the CIAT-Agrosavia Colombian Forage Network work- shop at Nataima Research Center. PHOTO: CIAT New partnership for a more sustainable forage production CIAT and the Papalotla Group, a worldwide leading company in the production of improved seeds for tropical hybrid pastures, signed the agreement “Sustainable inten- sification for environmental benefits”. This agreement follows a long-term collaboration between both organizations, achieving a wide dissemination of hybrid pastures developed by CIAT and distributed by Papalotla, such as Cobra, Cayman, Camello, Mulato, and Mulato II. This agreement allows the Papa- lotla Group to produce and commercialize the new hybrids developed by CIAT in three lines: Urochloa (syn. Brachiaria) hybrids currently being developed, B. humidicola and Megathyrsus (syn Panicum) hybrids. Read more of this article in the Asian Forage Legume Platform A new Forage Legumes Network in Asia helps sustainably diversify tropical crop-livestock systems. Researchers from eight Asian countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, and Vietnam – gathered at the end of 2017 in Haikou City, China, to form the Asian Forage Legumes Platform. This is in response to the increasing pressure for farming systems in Asia to produce more without causing further harm to the environment. As soils deteriorate and become unable to provide the nitrogen that crops need, nitrogen-fixation from the atmosphere turns out to be very important in agriculture. … Beyond facilitating soil health, when used as forages, legumes provide high- quality livestock feed. The network aims to further the understanding of and promote biological nitrogen fixation within the region. The Asian Forage Legumes Platform aims to increase the level of knowledge on biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) in Asia, with a view to facilitating increased benefits from BNF of farming systems in Asia, by: • facilitating collaboration among network members on research projects; • fostering communication around success- ful integration of forage legumes in the region; and • sharing forage germplasms, rhizobia strains and methods of evaluation. Workshop participants visiting a field site with Stylosanthes guianensis in China. PHOTO: CIAT Four major interconnected initiatives will be pursued by the Platform, looking at the integration of forage legumes into crop- livestock systems at 4 levels: landscape, farm, soil-plant, and microbe. National partners carry out all activities directly. Currently, there are trials in Vietnam and China, where forage legumes Arachis pintoi is intercropped in a demonstration plot at the Tropical Pasture Research Center in Danzhou City, China. PHOTO: M Romero/ CIAT. (Arachis pintoi, Gliricidia sepium, Stylosanthes guianensis and Canavalia brasiliensis) are being integrated in orange and mango tree plantations. In Cambodia, some forage legumes will be tested following rice, starting in January 2019: Lablab, Sesbania and Crota- laria. In the Philippines, partners are in the process of importing forage legume seeds. The Platform’s plan is to begin with informal seed production in every country, followed by some facilitated import and exchange between countries in the long term. Exchange of experiences among countries, a website, and many more initiatives may follow depending on available funding. To this end, CIAT is brokering regional cooperation in agricultural science and technology by helping establish research platforms among Asian countries, jointly facilitated by CIAT and China. Partly from: CIAT in Review 2017-2018; the CIAT Blog, and from the CIAT-Brief Asian Forage Legumes Platform. CONTACTS: Sabine Douxchamps, Didier Lesueur, CIAT, Hanoi, Vietnam EMAILS: S.Douxchamps@CGIAR.ORG, D.Lesueur@CGIAR.ORG 50-250Commonly observed annual inputs through Biological Nitrogen Fixation for pasture/forage or green manure legumes to be 50-250 kg N2/ha (Unkovich et al. 2008). Networks, networks, ●●●
  5. 5. FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 8 5 Cut-and-carry system Over a decade of research collaborations between Indonesia’s University of Mataram and Australia’s CSIRO and University of Queensland have enhanced the production of Bali cattle in Central Lombok. Cattle production on Lombok Island is pre- dominantly small scale (2-4 cattle per house- hold) and intensive. Communal shelters called kandangs are used in areas where cattle density is high and land availability for grazing and forage is low, as is the case in Central Lombok. Animals are fed by cut-and- carry or by tethering outside the kandang, and looked after by their owners. Napier grass (rumput gajah) to be fed to Bali cattle in a ‘satellite’ kandang in Central Lombok. Initial research showed that cows were in calf around every 3rd year, growth rates were low and smallholders in the 800 communal kand- angs did not realize significant economic benefit from the sale of animals. Key constraints to improving productivity included scarcity of quality feed, sub-optimal animal husbandry practices resulting in low reproduction rates, poor waste management and limited resources. The kandang system presented researchers with an opportunity to address productivity constraints, with a view to using the communal system as a model to support individual practice change and, over the long-term, provide an example of extension models for government. A slogan: 3S The Lombok team developed a slogan for the research aspiration and approach: satu induk, satu anak, satu tahun (3S) or one cow, one calf, one year. This encom- passed the objectives to shorten the inter- calving interval (by controlled mating), increase productivity (through better nutrition) and decrease calf mortality (through health and nutrition). A package of practices was introduced and tested with farmers, with a view to maxi- mizing reproductive potential and converting this to greater turn-off and increased sales, without overt strain on limited resources, such as land for forage and space to house new animals. The package included: planting and using improved forages, availability of quality bulls for natural mating 40-60 days after calving, earlier weaning of calves, preferential feeding of pregnant and lactating cows, and kandang hygiene. Almost reaching the goal At the end of the research in 2012, produc- tivity gains from uptake of project practices included a calving rate of 87% (from 52% in 2003), with calf survival of around 95% (from 85%) and a calving interval of just over 12 months (from 16 months), coming very close to the 3S aim. While herd size across the project area remained relatively stable, births and sales went up. Farmers stated that engagement with the research increased skills and knowledge of improved livestock management and feeding practices, and also the social capital of the groups, through increased cohesion and cooperation. This resulted in more advan- tageous engagement with local markets. The project model of employing and training young graduates was crucial in providing on- going support and encouragement to far- mers. Due to resourcing and existing work- loads, it is unlikely that the research success would have been achieved using existing extension staff. The research also achieved a strong influence on key policies and programs at provincial and district levels to support uptake of practices and approaches. Research success and impact were the results of a series of well-planned research projects brought together over a decade. Critical success factors include:  Long-term commitment from ACIAR, and Indonesian & Australian agencies;  A participatory approach to engagement;  a focus on understanding the system & its pressure and leverage points (incl. the development of the now widely used Integrated Assessment Tool for system modelling);  the value of investing in adoption and extension; and  commitment to building and realizing critical capacity. A farmer in southern Lombok carries gliricidia (gamal) to his cattle. ALL PHOTOS: M v Wensveen Evaluation of adoption ACIAR, who funded the Lombok livestock research, commissioned an evaluation of adoption 5 years after the project funding ended. That evaluation showed that some, but not all, of the practices were still being used by many farmers involved in the research projects, and also by ‘satellite farmers’ who were not active participants, but lived close to the project kandangs. The package of promoted practices by the research projects had several key features, well known to support adoption, including:  Practices that are relatively easy to apply One cow, one calf, one year: Forage as a catalyst for Lombok’s improved Bali cattle production
  6. 6. FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 8 6 Contd.  Build on existing social institutions & practices  Address key constraints & farmer needs  Have clear benefits even when only selected practices are adopted  Demonstrate clear, easily observable benefits. More complex practices that require group negotiation and resource management were harder to sustain post-project. Of the prac- tices, planting and use of improved forage and/or expansion of existing forage showed the greatest sustainability. Availability of land remains a constraint for forage pro- duction, but over 90% of farmers continued to grow and use forage 5 years after the project’s formal end. The evaluation revealed that the area for forage increased (e.g. on rice bunds and unused land) by necessity as the area available for grazing continues to decrease. Today, key forages in the system are the Urochloa hybrid Mulato, Panicum (Mega- thyrsus maximus), Napier grass (Cenchrus purpureus, syn. Pennisetum maximum) and the tree legumes, Gliricidia sepium, Leucaena leucocephala and Sesbania grandiflora. BY: Monica van Wensveen, Liana Williams, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia & Dahlanuddin, UNRAM, Indonesia CONTACT: READ MORE: Van Wensveen, Williams & Dahlanuddin 2018. Adoption of ACIAR project outputs 2017. Van Wensveen, Dahlanuddin et al. 2017. Final report for SMAR-2006-096 Scaling up herd management strategies in crop-livestock systems in Lombok. A Bali cow with her calf, feeding on Napier grass. PHOTO: BC Pengelly Fodder production in semi-arid eastern Kenya is characterized by low farm inputs and outputs. Drought and low soil fertility are major limiting factors in forage production. Farmers normally use stover from cereals such as maize and sorghum or from legumes like lablab, common beans and cowpeas as fodder during the dry season. Lablab on farm in eastern Kenya. PHOTO: A Kerina In Kenya, Lablab purpureus or ‘Dolichos bean’ is popularly called ‘Njahi’. It is a dual-purpose legume primarily grown for grain in eastern Kenya. It is good fodder for livestock. Parti- cularly under semi-arid conditions, lablab herbage dry matter (DM) yield is usually higher than that of beans and cowpeas. It can yield up to 6 t/ha of herbage DM. Thus, lablab is drought-tolerant and can grow under relatively low soil fertility conditions. It is grown as a companion crop to maize or as a cover crop. It will also improve soil fertili- ty by fixing atmospheric nitrogen to the soil. Forage use In eastern Kenya, lablab is mainly used during the dry season when animal feeds are in short supply. The whole plant is utilized in different ways. It can be grazed directly as a pasture, cut and directly fed green to live- stock, stored as hay or used to make silage. As it stays green during the dry season after grain harvest, the plant is highly palatable to livestock. Lablab hay is employed to supplement maize or sorghum stover, which are of poor nutri- tional quality. Lablab stems are more fibrous than those of other legumes, e.g. beans and cowpeas. As a result, livestock tend to eat leaves, which are soft and tender, but leave back the stems. Lablab fodder has high crude protein content. It’s also rich in calcium, phosphorous and vitamins A and D. The Kenyan KALRO has released a few culti- vars; but only KAT/DL-1 was found on a sig- nificant scale in the region due to both high grain and herbage yields. Biomass yields of KAT/DL-1 under rain-fed conditions were up to 3 t/ha in on-farm trials in Makueni County in 2014. Grotelüschen (2014) tested and identified other dual-purpose accessions with potential for the region: Q6880B, CPI 81364 and CPI 52513 from the Australian tropical forage germplasm collection. CONTACT: Arnold Kerina, University of Eldoret, Eldoret, Kenya EMAIL: Experimenting to intercrop maize with lablab: Conservation Ag Officer Neil Miller at a trial site near Moshi, northern Tanzania. PHOTO: BLMaass Lablab purpureus: A dry-season feed in eastern Kenya Developing multi-purpose Lablab in Tanzania Over the past 4 years, staff from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, in Arusha, have been experimenting with inter-cropping and sole-cropping of both local Tanzanian and introduced lablab accessions with maize. From their work they anticipate several multi-purpose varieties will be re- leased as cultivars in Tanzania by early 2020. CONTACT: Neil Miller, Arusha, Tanzania (Email:
  7. 7. FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 8 7 History & characteristics Panicum coloratum (common names are ‘Kleingrass’ and ‘Makarikari grass’) is a cross- pollinated, warm-season perennial grass, native to the Center and South of Africa. It has been introduced to Australia, Mexico, the USA, Japan and Argentina. In addition, there are some recent reports of its study as forage in mixed stands with legumes in Ethiopia (1). In Argentina, its use as forage for meat production is highly promising. Primarily, the grass has been developed for game bird feeding in the USA. In parts of Africa, Australia and also in the southern USA, it has been used for improving pasturelands, hay- and silage-making, revegetation of range- lands, and erosion control. Given its good nutritional quality, its use has been extended to forage production; though in Argentina, the relatively low adoption of the species by ranchers is sometimes related to difficulties in pasture establishment, but also to low seed availability in the market, probably related to shattering problems. Plants of Panicum coloratum cv. Kapivera-INTA, developed by the INTA breeders group Herbage dry matter (DM) production varies depending on the environment and the time of the year. In general, forage production begins in the middle of spring, achieving higher herbage production in mid-summer and declining towards autumn. On non- limiting soils, well-developed pastures may produce up to 9 t DM/ha, while DM yield may go down to 2.3 t/ha on limiting (saline) soils. Regarding nutritional quality, crude protein content (CP) is relatively high in the begin- ning of spring regrowth, achieving 12-16% CP with in vitro digestibility of 60-65%; these values decline along the growing season. Adaptation & cultivars Panicum coloratum is a quite polymorphic species. Two of the most ubiquitous varieties are var. coloratum and makarikariense. The first was widely used in the USA and cv. Klein was released there and is currently commer- cialized in Argentina. It grows well on sandy soils with annual precipitation of 450-800 mm. It is highly tolerant to drought, short flooding periods, saline and saline-sodic soils, cold temperatures, and high pH levels. P. coloratum var. makarikariense on a typical pasture site in northern central Argentina Var. makarikariense was developed in Australia; most popular is cv. Bambatsi. It also grows on saline or saline-sodic soils, tolerates poorly structured, heavy clay soils and long periods of flood, as well as alterna- tive periods of floods and drought. References 1. Tischler CR, Ocumpaugh WR 2004 Kleingrass, blue panic and vine mesquite. In: Warm-season (C4) grasses. Americ. Soc. Agronomy. p. 623-650. 2. Giordano M, Berone G, Tomás M 2013 Selection by seed weight improves traits related to seedling establishment in Panicum coloratum L. var. makarikariense. Plant Breeding 132:620–624. 3. Armando L, Carrera A, Tomás M 2013 Collection and morphological characterization of Panicum coloratum L. in Argentina. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 60(5):1737-1747. 4. Cardamone L, Cuatrín A, Grunberg K, Tomás MA 2018 Variability for salt tolerance in a collec- tion of Panicum coloratum var. makarikariense during early growth stages. Tropical Grasslands- Forrajes Tropicales 6(3), 134-147. Environments with annual precipitation regimes of 600-1000 mm are the more appropriate for this variety. One cultivar recently released in Argentina with higher seed weight is cv. Kapivera INTA (2). A P. coloratum var. coloratum pasture during flowering. ALL PHOTOS: GONZALO GUERRERO/INTA Genetic resources in Argentina The genetic relationship between botanical varieties is unclear: while some authors report that varieties are partially fertile and may hybridize, others demonstrate that hybrids are quite rare, and that varieties are clearly morphologically distinct. INTA (National Institute of Technology) in Argentina keeps a germplasm collection consisting of a total of 15 populations from the two P. coloratum varieties. Populations were collected mainly in central Argentina from old pastures that had been established with materials introduced to the country in the last decade of the 20th century and were preserved given the longevity of the plants and their facility to propagate agamically via stolons; also considering the species’ ability for natural re-sowing. The collection consti- tutes a reservoir of genetic variation for potential use of new cultivar development and for genetic resources conservation (3). Several studies have been undertaken and recently, both morphological and genetic variability for salinity tolerance has been determined in var. makarikariense (4). Contrasting genotypes could be used as parent materials to conduct breeding. BY: Maria Andrea Tomas & Mabel C. Giordano, INTA-Rafaela, Argentina EMAILS:; Panicum coloratum: An alternative for less productive soils in Argentina
  8. 8. FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 8 8 FAST FACTS 95%In Desmodium intercropping systems in western Kenya, such as ‘push-pull’ (see NL#7, p. 7), counts of the parasitic weed, Striga, were reduced by up to 95% with higher reductions when Desmodium was cut at 18 weeks after planting instead of at 3 to 15 weeks (Kifuko-Koech et al. 2012). 10%About 10% of the legume accessions conserved in the CIAT and ILRI forage germplasm collections belong to the genus Desmodium; they comprise c. 75 species of this large and diverse genus. FOR MORE INFORMATION Read the report on “A Global Strategy for the Conservation and Utilisation of Tropical and Sub- Tropical Forage Genetic Resources”. LETTERS TO THE EDITORS If you are not on the recipient list but you want to receive this newsletter, please contact us. If you are not interested in receiving further issues of this newsletter, please send us an email. Please share your opinions and write us letters regarding controversial issues. We are eager to debate with you your agreements or disagreements! Your opinions matter! Announcements International Forage and Turfgrass Breeding Conference, 24-27 March of 2019 in Orlando, FL, USA. This is the first joint meeting of the 10th Molecular Breeding of Forages and Turf Conference (MBFT) and the 6th International Symposium of Forage Breeding (ISFB). More details here. CONTACT: Joint XXIV International Grassland (IGC) and XI International Rangeland (IRC) congresses to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, 25 – 30 October 2020. The theme is ‘Sustai- nable Use of Grassland/Rangeland Resour- ces for Improved Livelihoods’. Read more. PhD OPPORTUNITIES at University of Kiel, Germany The Grass and Forage Science/Organic Farming group of the Plant Breeding Institute, offers investigation on: 1. Influence of polyphenols on methane emissions – application by 4 Jan. 2019. CONTACT: Dr. Carsten Malisch (EMAIL: 2. Relations between food security and eco- system services of grassland-based forage production systems & 3. Eco-efficiency of milk production – application by 1 Jan. 2019. SCHOLARSHIP Contact: Dr. Almut Hattenbach (EMAIL: NEW PUBLICATION ISPC (Independent Science and Partnership Council). 2018. Tropical forages and the diffusion of Brachiaria cultivars in Latin America. Brief no. 70. ISPC, Rome, Italy. FROM THE JOURNAL: Vol. 6 No. 3 (September 2018) Research papers Got forages? Understanding potential returns on investment in Brachiaria spp. for dairy producers in Eastern Africa by B Schiek, C González, S Mwendia, SD Prager Variability for salt tolerance in a collection of Panicum coloratum var. makarikariense during early growth stages [Argentina] by L Cardamone, A Cuatrín, K Grunberg, MA Tomás How does seed size of Arachis pintoi affect establishment, top-growth and seed production? [Brazil] by GML de Assis, DP Miqueloni, HSFS Azêvedo, JF Valentim Efectos de la fertilización en la productividad de una pastura de Brachiaria humidicola cv. Llanero en el Piedemonte de los Llanos Orientales de Colombia by A Rincón, H Flórez, H Ballesteros, LM León Ecological implications of bush encroachment on foraging behavior of dairy cows and goats at SUA farm, Morogoro, Tanzania by IS Selemani NEXT NEWSLETTER ISSUE We aim at producing the next newsletter by March 2019. DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in the articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the CGIAR or the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Photos from the title page: top by Monica van Wensveen; right top by Luis Villalobos; right bottom by Monica van Wensveen FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr Brigitte Maass Dr Bruce Pengelly Global Crop Diversity Trust Platz der Vereinten Nationen 7 53113 Bonn, Germany