Published on Aug 26, 2019
-For the first time in Africa: 24th International Grassland Congress
-Buffelgrass: Broadening the frontier of genetic resources conservation, research and utilization
-Potential of Namibian native forage legumes as ruminant fodder
-Dairy farmers in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania reap big from Brachiaria grasses
-Agronomic status of grasses of the genus Urochloa in Grupo Papalotla
-Andropogon gayanus: Adoption and impact in Mexico
GLOBAL STRATEGY FOR CONSERVATION & UTILISATION
OF TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL FORAGES Issue 9 – August 2019
The International Grassland Congress (IGC)
was scheduled for southern France, when
one of us (BLM) was about to finalize her
PhD thesis in Germany. It could be expected
that the global state of the art in forage and
grassland sciences was to be presented in
that quadrennial event, and networking was
of highest priority for most participants. Alas,
Nice was still far from Germany in 1989 and,
when the submission deadline passed, I was
disappointed to have missed this opportunity
to meet with former mentors, colleagues,
friends from CIAT-Colombia. As things even-
tuated, I had commenced a postdoctoral
position in the Amazon lowlands of Peru,
when the congress actually took place.
Not participating certainly impeded first
face-to-face meetings with Australian re-
searchers who had kicked off the R&D work
on Stylosanthes—my thesis was on S. scabra,
an important tropical legume that nobody
cared for in Germany in that time, though.
Our view is that strong collaboration and
international interaction was often initiated
through events such as the IGC and done
much better than today, despite the absence
of today’s communication tools. No internet
existed, no skype, no emails, and no cell
phones. Working in Pucallpa/Peru, as I was in
1989, was like being ‘behind the mountains’—
fully out of reach, but somehow still linked to
what was happening elsewhere in the world
through CIAT’s institutional connections.
Today, such placement should be much
easier with cheaper and shorter flights, and
diverse communication tools! Yet despite the
many benefits that could flow from close
collaboration via easier communication, few
key genebank personnel and/or forage
researchers have ever met each other, let
alone collaborated in any way.
When revising the content of our first 8
newsletters, we found that we have been
able to get stories that highlight certain
species (30%) as a resource as well as on
success stories and impact generated from
forage utilization (40%). However, we have
almost nothing on the transition from the
genetic resource to impact—the agronomy
work and on fitting forages to farming
systems and into particular socio-ecological
niches. This is critical work that is being done
but, it seems, seldom told. So, how many
untold stories remain? It has been increa-
singly more difficult to encourage people to
contribute their story and, perhaps, it’s time
to conclude this newsletter. In our view, there
probably is no substitute for face-to-face
meetings and discussions and networking.
The next IGC is scheduled for October 2020.
Attending that meeting should, in our view,
be a priority for the up-and-coming forage
researchers of the world, who will carry the
torch into the future. Please note that the
submission deadline is coming up very
quickly, and that we both hope to meet you
at the joint International Grassland &
Rangeland Congress in Nairobi, Kenya 2020
to build the networks and tell those untold
Brigitte Maass & Bruce Pengelly
Meeting & networking opportunity
In 2020, for the first time, the IGC – together with the
IRC – will take place in Africa.
Pages 2 & 8
Adopting Andropogon in Mexico
In dry areas of Mexico along the Pacific coast,
Andropogon has become the choice of grass for
countless livestock producers on 300,000 hectares.
Forages for the Future
IN THIS ISSUE
FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 9 2
Newsletter vs. Blog
“A newsletter is a printed report containing news (infor-
mation) of the activities of […] an organization that is
sent by mail regularly to all its members, […] or people,
who are interested in. Newsletters generally contain one
main topic of interest to its recipients. A newsletter may
be considered grey literature.” (Wikipedia)
“A blog is a type of website where the content is pre-
sented in reverse chronological order (newer content
appear first). Blog content is often referred to as entries
or ‘blog posts’. | Blogs are typically run by an individual
or a small group of people to present information in a
conversational style. However, now there are tons of
corporate blogs that produce a lot of informational and
thought-leadership style content.” (Wordpress)
In summary, a blog could be defined as an instrument to
meet new people, whereas a newsletter is used to make
a deeper connection with people already known.
Some useful links:
Nonprofit Newsletter vs. Nonprofit Blog: Which Will
Bring More Success (3 Jan 2018) by T Ibele/Wild Apricot
Blog vs. Email Newsletter? Which Strategy Works Best?
by J Zapata (5 Sep 2018)
Newsletter Guide by by: E Roseman, C Porter, J Lichter-
man, J Boltik, C Bodkin, et al. (n.d.)
How to Create an Email Newsletter the RIGHT WAY
(Step by Step) (Wordpress)
What is a Blog and How is it Different from a Website?
Abbreviations & Acronyms
ACIAR Australian Centre for International
ADF Acid detergent fiber
BBSRC Biotechnology and Biological Sciences
Research Council, UK
BMZ Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation
and Development, Germany
CGIAR Consultative Group on International
CIAT Centro International de Agricultura Tropical
CIPAT Tropical Pastures Research Center of Grupo
Papalotla (Spanish acronym)
CP Crude protein
cv. Cultivar – registered, commercial variety
DM Dry matter
IBERS Institute of Biology, Environmental and
Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, UK
IFAD International Fund for Agricultural
Development, Rome, Italy
IGC International Grassland Congress
ILRI International Livestock Research Institute
INIFAP Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones
Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias, Mexico
IRC International Rangeland Congress
IVOMD In vitro organic matter digestibility
NDF Neutral detergent fiber
The 24th International Grassland Congress
(IGC) will take place in Africa for the first
time. This conference will celebrate its
centenary soon, as the first congress was
held in 1927 (Humphreys 2005). In 2020, it
will take place in conjunction with the
11th International Rangeland Congress (IRC)
in Nairobi, Kenya. The IRC has only been
established in the late 1970s in response to
the view that “rangeland scientists became
dissatisfied and frustrated with the … pro-
grammes of the International Grassland
Congresses [which] had very little rangeland
content and were largely irrelevant” for them
(Perry & Le Houerou 1991). 2020 is only the
second time that these two major congresses
will be held together after China in 2008.
Hosting the first-ever joint IGC/IRC in Africa
is significant for Kenya, as East Africa offers
diverse and unique tropical savannah eco-
systems and is home to some of the most
economically important grasses of the
tropics and subtropics. While this first ever
African happening is a landmark in the
history of the IGC, it is not so for the IRC,
which has been less Eurocentric than the IGC,
in part perhaps, because of the distribution
of the major rangelands of the world (see
figure on IRC venue regions).
Abbreviations & Acronyms – contd.
R&D Research and development
RAB Rwanda Agriculture Board
RUFORUM Regional University Forum for Capacity
SNP Single-nucleotide polymorphism
TALIRI Tanzania Livestock Research Institute
TSTF Tropical and Sub-Tropical Forages
UNAM University of Namibia
FIGURES DEVELOPED FROM INFORMATION PRESENTED BY
HUMPHREYS (2005) AND PERRY & LE HOUEROU (1991)
Evolution of the IGC
During its long history, the IGC has evolved
from a congress largely dominated by wes-
tern European participants (see figure) to
one, whose perspectives have become more
global. However, the majority of countries
hosting IGCs are still biased towards those of
western Europe (see World in Numbers, p. 6).
The conference has changed slightly in
thematic areas covered and in the weight of
each of them. In his analysis of 19 IGCs (1927-
2001), Humphreys (2005) found that the
number of contributions in some domains
showed a downward trend, while others had
increased. Interestingly, the ‘Plant genetic
base’ theme, including forage genetic
resources and plant breeding, remained fairly
stable at ~21% of all contributions over the
same period. Yet, the analysis does not cover
the split between contributions on grazing
vs. cut-and-carry systems or, in fact, the
balance between temperate and tropical
systems, but this would certainly be telling.
The 2020 Congress aims to promote the
interchange of scientific and technical
information on all aspects of grasslands &
rangelands, including a diverse range of
research and development areas (see p. 8).
Humphreys LR. 2005. A brief history of the
International Grassland Congress. In: Proc XX Int
Grassl Congr, Dublin, Ireland (pp 45-52). Wage-
ningen Acad Publ, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
Perry RA & Le Houerou HN. 1991. International
Rangeland Congresses historical note. In: Proc IV
Int Rangel Congr, Monpellier, France (pp 1214-1216).
For the first time in Africa:
International Grassland Congress
FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 9 3
Buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris L.) is an impor-
tant forage grass particularly in the semi-arid
areas of the subtropics and tropics. Origina-
ting in Africa, Arabia, the Middle-East and
India, it is also widely cultivated in Australia,
and the Americas. The International Live-
stock Research institute (ILRI) maintains over
200 accessions, collected from 19 African
countries, in its forage genebank. The
collection offers a valuable resource for the
selection and development of new varieties
and, with this in mind, ILRI and the Instituto
Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales,
Agrícolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP) in Mexico
have been working together to evaluate the
performance of these materials. This project
‘Conservation, Characterization and use of
forage genetic resources for priority grazing
land ecosystems of Mexico’ (2013-2016) was
also about capacity building.
Characterization in Ethiopia
The first study was carried out at ILRI’s
experimental station in Bishoftu, Ethiopia on
a vertisol soil, at 1850 metres above sea level
(asl.), with average annual maximum and
minimum temperatures (Tmax/Tmin) of
25 and 11°C, respectively, and an average
annual rainfall of 850 mm. Significant diversi-
ty in agronomic, morphological and nutri-
tional characteristics was identified in the
collection with one group consisting of eight
accessions being more productive than all
others. This group included 11 commercial
cultivars, with which they were compared.
In a second study performed at ILRI’s Zwai
Experimental Station (loamy sand at 1,640 m
asl., Tmax/Tmin 26/20°C, and with 600 mm
annual rainfall), which included 10 commer-
cial cultivars, four clusters of accessions were
identified with one group, consisting of six
accessions, having exceptional character-
istics in both forage and seed production.
Cluster analysis of 185 Buffelgrass accessions
based on 1000 SNP markers.
Contrasting accessions from the experiment in
Harvesting the Buffelgrass trial in Bishoftu,
Ethiopia. ALL PHOTOS: R Sánchez-Gutiérrez
More recently, ILRI has started a genotyping-
by-sequencing initiative on its collection to
complement the agro-morphological data
and investigate the possibility of initiating
marker assisted selection in this species. So
far, we have genotyped 185 accessions
collected from across the origin countries
and identified over 200,000 molecular
markers, which were mapped to the genome
of Foxtail millet (Setaria italica), a closely
related species. Using a subset of 1,000 of
these markers distributed across the S. italica
genome, we have sorted the accessions into
two main groups with up to 8 sub-groups in
the collection at ILRI, none of which align
with the geographic origin or cluster based
on agronomic traits so far.
CONTACTS: Ricardo A. Sánchez Gutiérrez, INIFAP,
& Alemayehu Teressa Negawo, ILRI,
Ethiopia (E: firstname.lastname@example.org)
References & Publications
Genesys – Plant Genetic Resources portal
Heuze V, Tran G, Baumont R, Lebas F. 2016.
Buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris). Feedipedia, a
programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO.
(Online; last updated 1 April 2016).
Sánchez-Gutiérrez R, Morales-Nieto C, Hanson J,
Santellano-Estrada E, Jurado-Guerra P,
Villanueva-Avalos J, Melgoza-Castillo A. 2017.
Forage characterization of ecotypes of buffel
grass under temporary conditions in Debre
Zeit, Ethiopia. Revista Mexicana De Ciencias
Sánchez-Gutiérrez R, Hanson J, Jones C, Jurado-
Guerra P, Santellano-Estrada E, Melgoza-
Castillo A, Morales-Nieto C. n.d. Phenotypic
variation of Buffelgrass [Pennisetum ciliare (L.)
Link] and accessions with potential for forage
and seed production. Revista Fitotecnia
Mexicana (submitted in 2018).
Broadening the frontier of genetic resources conservation,
research and utilization
Tropical Forages Database
The project (funded by ACIAR & BMZ) on updating the Tropical
Forages Database and selection tool will end by August 2019. Involved
CGIAR scientists, independent forage experts, software developers,
genebank managers, and members from the Global Crop Trust parti-
cipated in a workshop in Germany in February 2019 to organize last
pendings of work and for product testing. The updated tool will soon
be available, both in a website version and as mobile application.
CONTACT: S Burkhart, CIAT, Colombia (E: S.Burkart@CGIAR.ORG)
Advancing sustainable forage-based livestock
production systems in Colombia (CoForLife)
A new project (funded by BBSRC) aims to improve cattle productivity
on Colombian pasture-based farms by using a multidisciplinary
approach that will link forage productivity and quality to animal
productivity and farmer attitudes and practice. The collaborative
project is led by the Institute of Biology, Environmental and Rural
Sciences (IBERS), Aberystwyth University, UK. Read more.
CONTACT: J Moorby, IBERS, UK (E: email@example.com)
FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 9 4
Shortage of feed in terms of quantity and
quality, particularly during the dry season, is
a major constraint to livestock production in
the tropics, and this will likely be exacerbated
by climate change. Crude protein (CP) and
energy are the main limiting nutrients during
the dry season in grazed rangelands. Sub-
Saharan Africa is endowed with a variety of
native forage legume species, which are well
adapted to harsh conditions, but their poten-
tial as feed has not been exploited. In 2012,
the University of Namibia (UNAM) obtained
a research grant from the Regional University
Forum for Capacity Building (RUFORUM) to
characterize indigenous legumes in Nami-
bia’s rangelands with a potential to enhance
livestock productivity. 14 native species were
collected from the wild and identified, four of
which (Vigna lobatifolia, Otoptera burchellii,
Crotalaria argyraea and Lablab purpureus
subsp. uncinatus—wild lablab) were further
investigated for palatability and intake.
These forage legumes are widely distributed
in central Namibia, where average annual
rainfall ranges 135-350 mm; and they have
been observed to be consumed by goats.
Nutritional composition and
Forage legume samples were randomly
collected from the wild across different
seasons and locations. Leaves and young
branches were harvested at different growth
stages. The table shows least squares means
of the chemical composition. CP content
ranged 18-22 %, well above the minimum
threshold of 7% required to support rumen
microbial function; NDF was 36-56%, being
below the 55-60% range that would limit
intake. A palatability trial conducted in
October 2014, using the cafeteria method,
showed that Boer goats readily ate all the
forages offered, but C. argyraea was less
preferred, possibly, because of undesirable
chemical constituents such as pyrrolizidine
alkaloids or flavonoids (Lucena et al. 2010).
Vigna lobatifolia Baker is a perennial
herbaceous, trailing and tuberous legume with
trifoliate leaves. It flowers shortly after the
end of the cold season (September to April),
maybe an adaptive feature to produce seed
early in the summer season for dispersal.
Otoptera burchellii DC. is a perennial
herb, often trailing or climbing, with hairy
stems up to 2 m long. Its leaves are trifoliate
with leaflets lanceolate to ovate and up to 10
× 3.5 cm in size, blue-green, pointed at the
apex with a long, mucronate tip. Flowers are
purple. Pods are up to 12 × 0.8 cm in size.
No germplasm collection exists as yet. Most
research was performed through two MSc-
theses (Kaholongo 2016 & Thamina 2018).
Average chemical composition of Namibian
native forage legumes (%, DM)
V. lobatifolia 21.0±1.2 2.6±0.3 44.4±1.9 27.6±1.7
O. burchellii 22.2±1.1 4.0±0.3 44.2±1.7 28.2±1.6
C. argyraea 21.6±2.5 8.7±0.6 36.2±3.8 23.4±3.2
Wild lablab 18.7±2.1 2.4±0.5 56.1±3.2 28.3±2.3
Crotalaria argyraea Welw. ex Baker is an
erect shrub with trifoliate leaves. Flowers are
yellow and pods are very hard, inflated and
balloon like. Seeds are primarily dispersed by
Lablab purpureus subsp. uncinatus
Verdc. (wild Lablab) is a perennial twining
herb with comparatively small fruits, ca. 4 cm
x 1.5 cm. It is probably a progenitor of the
commercially used lablab.
(ALL PHOTOS: Dept of Animal Science, UNAM)
Besides the studied legumes being naturally
well adapted to harsh environmental
conditions and their ability to fix nitrogen,
the selected native species showed their
potential as fodder and protein source for
ruminants to enhance livestock productivity.
Further research, however, is needed to
effectively deploy native forage legumes.
BY: E Lutaaya, A Kahumba & MNT
Shipandeni, Dept Animal Sci, Univ
of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia
CONTACT: E Lutaaya (E: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Potential of Namibian native forage legumes
as ruminant fodder
Stylosanthes pellets: a healthy and sustainable animal feed
Recently, Fudesemillas has developed methodology to produce animal feed using leaf meal produced
from the tropical legume Stylosanthes, combined with other locally produced ingredients. Fudesemillas
is a non-profit organization located in southern Costa Rica, dedicated to developing and implementing
innovative agricultural technologies for adding value to rural products since 1990. The technology is based on growing, sun-drying, grinding and
making feed pellets from a Stylosanthes guianensis cultivar that contains 5 anthracnose-resistant lines. Stylosanthes is a perennial crop, which
yields three or four times more protein/ha/year than soybeans. A quite recent paper in Outlook on Agriculture provides all the details.
CONTACT: R Sylvester-Bradley, Fudesemillas, Costa Rica (E: email@example.com)
FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 9 5
The dairy sector in Tanzania has continued to
suffer because of low productivity despite
increasing numbers of improved animals and
availability of large land tracts for grazing.
Climate change, coupled with more frequent
and prolonged drought, has only made the
problem more severe. However, the develop-
ment of new forage varieties has brought
hope to increase productivity of the sector.
Climate-smart dairy systems
The International Center for Tropical Agricul-
ture (CIAT) is leading a research for develop-
ment project on ‘climate-smart dairy
systems’. The project is funded by The Inter-
national Fund for Agricultural Development
(IFAD) and implemented through national
partnerships with the Tanzania Livestock
Research Institute (TALIRI) in Tanzania and
Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) in Rwanda.
It aims to help farmers to increase their
production, storage and (year-round) avail-
ability of high quality feeds. This will in turn
enable farmers become reliable suppliers of
milk and engage in commercialization.
Climate-smart forage options (grasses,
legumes) integrated into mixed production
systems are also among the most relevant
options to increase resilience and reduce the
ecological ‘hoofprint’ or greenhouse gas
emissions of dairy production. Particular
attention has been given to climate-robust
options increasing productivity while, at the
same time, enhancing environmental bene-
fits (soil fertility, greenhouse gas mitigation).
In 3 districts of the southern highlands of
Tanzania (Njombe, Mufindi-Iringa, and
Rungwe-Mbeya), improved forages grasses
and legumes have been tested in demo plots:
Urochloa (syn. Brachiaria) hybrids cvs.
Cayman and Cobra, Cenchrus purpureus (syn.
Pennisetum purpureum, Napier grass) Ouma,
Napier ILRI 16835, Chloris gayana (Rhodes
grass), Tripsacum andersonii (Guatemala
grass), Lablab purpureus, Stylosanthes
guianensis and Desmodium intortum (Green-
leaf). In addition, training, seeds and cuttings
are provided to farmers so that they can
plant the forages in their own farms.
Farmers have already reported benefits from
feeding these forages to their animals. High
biomass yield, persistence in dry seasons,
and significant increase in milk yield are the
main observed positive impacts.
David’s Brachiaria field in Njombe, Tanzania,
with ready hay.
A farmer’s experience
David Mshindo, a farmer from Njombe, is
one of the beneficiaries. Not only has he
established an additional Brachiaria field, but
he has also discovered that using a motor-
ized tea pruner works efficiently in cutting
the grass, allowing it to dry in the field for
hay. This has boosted his cows’ milk
production, especially in the dry season, and
is benefiting his family. His son, a university
graduate, has also ventured into yoghurt
production at home, packing and distributing
to his customers on his motorbike, and
thereby contributing to his income.
While depending on rain only to grow these
forages, farmers can harvest the Napier and
Guatemala grasses more than 6 times a year
and the legumes and Brachiaria and Rhodes
grass up to 4 times.
Brachiaria grasses had the highest impact on
milk yield with an average increase of 1.5-2
liters per milking time and when fed with
either of the legumes the yield increased to
2-2.5 liters per milking time. Farmers also
noted a reduction in the time it took to
search for natural forage, of which 90%
become unavailable during the dry period.
From Rhodes to Brachiaria
Interestingly, these improved forages have
also become a direct source of income. In the
past, it was common for farmers in the
southern highlands and elsewhere in the
country to make hay from Rhodes grass. But
now they have switched to Brachiaria.
David’s enclosed hay barn with Brachiaria hay.
ALL PHOTOS: B Nzogela & SW Mwendia/CIAT
Lameck Mshindo, David’s son, is measuring milk
in readiness for yoghurt processing.
Farmers are selling a bale of Rhodes grass
hay (12-15 kg) at USD 1.4, and a bale of
Brachiaria hay (20 kg) at USD 6.9 (May 2019).
The introduction of these forages in the
southern highlands of Tanzania has
motivated more farmers to keep improved
breeds of cows with the aim of increasing
milk yield. Unlike in other highly populated
areas such as Lushoto district in Tanga
region, farmers in the southern highlands are
growing the forages in plots and not in
contours as barriers for controlling erosion
but as their core source of animal feed. This
is attributed to the fact that farmers still have
enough land for growing both forages and
food/cash crops. Farmers in Bukoba, Mwanza
and Tanga are now motivated to start
BY: Beatus Nzogela, CIAT, Tanzania
Dairy farmers in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania
reap big from Brachiaria grasses
FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 9 6
The Urochloa breeding program was initiated
in 1988 at the Centro Internacional de
Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), in Cali, Colombia,
led by John W. Miles. Urochloa (syn.
Brachiaria) is a large but poorly delimited
genus comprising more than 100 species.
The three economically important species
(U. decumbens, U. brizantha, U. humidicola)
belong to two of nine identified taxonomic
groups. The first comprehensive germplasm
collecting mission for this genus was carried
out in the mid-1980s in eastern Africa, where
approx. 800 accessions were collected.
Today, this collection is mostly maintained as
a field collection both at the International
Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Ethiopia
and CIAT in Colombia; and also largely dupli-
cated with Embrapa institutes in Brazil.
The collection provides a solid base for the
development of new Urochloa cultivars, like
Mulato II, Cayman, Cobra and Camello.
Mulato II is a vigorous grass with deep and
branched roots; Cayman has been released
due to its strong waterlogging tolerance;
Cobra is used in cut-and-carry feeding sys-
tems; and Camello is outstanding for
drought resistance (see characteristics table).
Grazing new Urochloa hybrids at CIPAT-Brazil.
PHOTO: EA PIZARRO
Under very intensive grazing every 2 weeks
in South Florida during 2010-2012, Urochloa
hybrids, cvs. Mulato II and Cayman, had
significantly higher percentages of leaf
(70−80%), crude protein (19−21% in leaves,
10−12% in stems) and in vitro organic matter
digestibility (IVOMD, 73−75% in leaf, 59−61%
in stem) than other lines tested. These key
values of forage quality are similar to those
usually reported for temperate grasses.
Hybrids of Urochloa obtained previously from
CIAT were interspecific and had low and in-
consistent seed production ranging 0-1 t ha-1.
Agronomic evaluation of new Urochloa hybrids at
CIPAT-Brazil. PHOTO: EA PIZARRO
Characteristics of hybrid Urochloa cultivars
Mulato II Cayman Camello Cobra
◌◌◌◌◌ ●●●●◌ ◌◌◌◌◌
●●●◌◌ ●●●◌◌ ●●●●◌ ●●●◌◌
●●●◌◌ ●●●◌◌ ●●◌◌◌ ●●◌◌◌
●●◌◌◌ ●●●◌◌ ●●●●◌ ◌◌◌◌◌
●●●●● ●●●●● ●●●●● ●●●●●
●●●●● ●●●●● ●●●●● ●●◌◌◌
●●●◌◌ ●●◌◌◌ ●●◌◌◌ ●●●●●
●●●●◌ ●●◌◌◌ ●●◌◌◌ ●●●●●
●●◌◌◌ ●●●◌◌ ●●●●◌ ◌◌◌◌◌
●●●●◌ ●●●●◌ ●●●●◌ ●●●●◌
Source: slightly modified from Grupo Papalotla
A new agreement was signed between Grupo
Papalotla and CIAT in October 2018. PHOTO: CIAT
Today, Grupo Papalotla has disseminated
CIAT hybrids in 52 countries around the
world. In October 2018, Grupo Papalotla and
CIAT signed a new agreement. This agree-
ment follows a long-term collaboration
between both organizations and allowing
Grupo Papalotla to produce and commer-
cialize the new hybrids developed by CIAT in
three breeding lines: Urochloa interspecific
hybrids, U. humidicola and Megathyrsus (syn.
Panicum maximum) hybrids. This renewed
agreement will focus the joint efforts on
developing products that also reverse
environmental degradation, and contribute
to reducing greenhouse gases from livestock
CONTACT: Esteban A. Pizarro, Semillas
Papalotla SA de CV, México DF,
Read more in a recent
Agronomic status of grasses of the genus Urochloa
in Grupo Papalotla
FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 9 7
The species Andropogon gayanus Kunth is a
tropical forage grass original from sub-
Saharan Africa and of recognized agronomic
value for its adaptation to acidic and low-
fertility soils. It is characterized by growing
and thriving very well in dry tropical areas,
including well-drained savannas. In Mexico,
the species was introduced through CIAT’s
Tropical Pastures Program in 1982.
Currently in Mexico, the grass covers approx.
300,000 hectares, predominantly located in
areas that are considered marginal due to
drought, limiting the production of agricultu-
ral crops. In 1986, INIFAP (Instituto Nacional
de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y
Pecuarias) released Andropogon gayanus
cv. Llanero in Mexico. Farmers have identi-
fied this cultivar because of the low cost of
the seed and its attributes of high forage pro-
duction, resistance to drought, resistance to
pests and diseases, vigor of regrowth at the
beginning of the rainy season, and for its
good capacity for natural repopulation by
seed. Yet, it’s great height of up to 4 m, also
resulting in low leaf:stem ratio, triggered the
selection of a lower (up to 2 m), much leafier
type that is now being commercialized.
The most important areas of A. gayanus are
marginal lands mainly located along the Pa-
cific slope in the states of Guerrero, México,
Michoacán, Jalisco and Sinaloa. Various go-
vernmental supports have been decisive for
the rapid adoption of this important grass.
Dry season feed
The main impact of this grass in the semi-
arid zones of tropical Mexico is because it has
arrived to solve problems of forage scarcity
in the dry season, since it offers high biomass
production during the rainy season. The use
and management of the plant is mainly
under grazing conditions. However, as the
dry season progresses the plant becomes
lignified and, thereby, restricted to make
best use of the forage on foot. Simultaneous-
ly, and as plant maturity advances, the nutri-
tive value decreases, especially in terms of
crude protein content and total digestibility.
Newly established Andropogon gayanus on sandy
soil in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.
Young Andropogon gayanus planted on sandy soil
in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.
Flowering plants of Andropogon gayanus for seed
production in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.
Cattle grazing a stand of Andropogon gayanus in
Guerrero, Mexico. ALL PHOTOS: A Peralta Martinez
Grass seed production
National grass seed production has also
played an important role in the rapid growth
of existing surfaces. The production and
harvest of seed is carried out by small
livestock producers in paddocks established
with pastures. They use hired laborers who
cut the mature inflorescences and put them
to sweat, shake them when dry and, finally,
pack them for sale. In the last years of the
20th century, several state agricultural devel-
opment agencies provided training services
to producers for the production, manage-
ment and benefit of ‘llanero grass’ seed. Even
so, the main objective of sowing the grass
has never been seed production; it is a
welcome by-product of small-scale livestock
activity in Mexico.
BY: Armando Peralta Martínez,
Agroproductos de Iguala SA de
CV, Guerrero, Mexico
Artisanal seed production of Andropogon
gayanus in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.
Invasive plant, major weed?
Andropogon gayanus has been introduced for
pasture improvement worldwide. In some
regions, especially in Australia, the grass is
considered a major invasive that strongly
contributes to hotter bushfires than from
natural grasslands (e.g. Rossiter-Rachor et al.
2009; Setterfield et al. 2010; Neale 2019).
In contrast, it appears to be an appreciated
grass, well adapted to several rather
marginal semi-arid areas of tropical America.
Adoption and impact in Mexico
FORAGES FOR THE FUTURE | Issue 9 8
3%In the period from 1927 to 2001, just about 3% of
participants in 19 conferences of the International
Grassland Congress have come from Africa.
21%With little variation, about 21% of the work presen-
ted in the same period of 19 congresses, belonged
to the thematic area of ‘plant genetic base’.
Source: Humphreys (2005)
Arboreal Legumes for Multiple Uses—edited by
J Muir & J Dubeux, Legume Perspectives, #17,
A GLOBAL STRATEGY ON FORAGES
For more information, read Pengelly’s (2015)
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 opinion matters!
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.
1. Rangeland/grassland ecology
2. Forage production & utilization
3. Livestock production systems
4. Wildlife, tourism & multi-facets of range-
5. Drought management & climate change
6. Pastoralism, social, gender & policy issues
7. Capacity, institutions and innovations for
sustainable development in rangelands/
Oct 1, 2019Deadline for submission of
proposals for concurrent panels.
Nov 15, 2019Deadline for submission of
abstracts for posters or oral presentations.
Apr 30, 2020Deadline for submission of
full papers; & deadline for early bird
Oct 16, 2019Deadline for regular
Oct 24 – 30, 2020IGC-IRC Congress
FROM THE JOURNAL:
Vol. 7 No. 3 (June 2019)
● Performance of young Nellore bulls on
guineagrass pastures under rotational stocking
in the Brazilian Cerrado.
by Braga GJ, Maciel GA, Guimarães Jr R, Ramos AKB,
Carvalho MA, Fernandes FD, Fonseca CEL, Jank L
● Between-year variation in the effects of
phosphorus deficiency in breeder cows grazing
tropical pastures in northern Australia.
by Coates DB, Dixon RM, Mayer RJ
● Perennial ryegrass and novel festulolium
forage grasses in the tropical highlands of
Central Kenya: Preliminary assessment.
by Mwendia SW, Maass B, Njenga D, Notenbaert A
● Enhanced germination performance of
dormant seeds of Eragrostis tef in the presence
of light. [Turkey]
by Tiryaki I, Kaplan SA
● Effectiveness of inoculation with rumen fluid
containing Synergistes jonesii to control DHP
toxicity in ruminants in eastern Indonesia.
by Halliday MJ, Pakereng C, Edison RG, Ara P, Dida
PR, Nulik J, Hau DK, McMillan HE, Shelton HM
The journal will publish two special issues with
papers compiled from the International
Leucaena Conference, taking place in Queens-
land, Australia in October/November 2018.
NEXT NEWSLETTER ISSUE
We aim at producing the next (last?) newsletter
towards the end of 2019 or early 2020.
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 BL Maass; right top logo from joint IGC/IRC 2020; right bottom by A Peralta Martinez
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Dr Brigitte Maass
Dr Bruce Pengelly
Global Crop Diversity Trust
Platz der Vereinten Nationen 7
53113 Bonn, Germany