Tropical Grasslands (1995) Volume 29, 111–114

The effects of different light levels on the nutritive quality of four natural tropical grasses


Department of Agricultural Biology, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna, Matara Sri Lanka


Axonopus compressus, Imperata cylindrica, Cynodon dactylon and Pennisetum polystachyon were tested at 3 light levels (100%, 64%, and 28% of full sunlight) in field plots in a randomised complete block design with 3 replicates. In vitro dry matter digestibility (lVDMD), acid detergent fibre (ADF), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), acid detergent lignin (AM), hemicellulose and cellulose percentages were measured on whole tops cut on 3 occasions over 6 months.
Reduction in light transmission down to 64% had no effect on the nutritive quality of grasses. The lowest nutritive quality and the highest ADF and ADL were recorded in the grasses that received the lowest light level. High cell wall content was observed in the grasses grown in the shade. A. compressus showed the least sensitivity to amount of incident light and the highest IVDMD which indicated its potential as a shadetolerant grass. As IVDMD of I. cylindrica and C. dactylon is increased by shade to 64% light transmission, they could also be considered as potential pasture grasses to be grown under coconut plantations.

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