Tropical Grasslands (1996) Volume 30, 289–297

Stenotaphrum secundatum: a valuable forage species for shaded environments

B.F. MULLEN and H.M. SHELTON

Department of Agriculture, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Abstract

The potential of Stenotaphrum secundatum (buffalo grass) as a forage species for ruminants is reviewed. Buffalo grass has been used as a pasture grass to a limited extent in Florida, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands and Australia. From agronomic and animal production data, it is concluded that buffalo grass has value as a pasture grass for shaded, humid-tropical environments in developing countries, where smallholders require a robust, persistent grass. Considerable genetic variation exists within the species with the sterile triploid types showing greatest potential for grazing. Dry matter productivity is only moderate but buffalo grass is tolerant of a wide range of edapho-climatic conditions. Its moderate nutritive value can be improved by combination with legumes such as Leucaena leucocephala, Arachis pintoi cv. Amarillo, Aeschynomene americana cv. Glenn and Desmodium spp. Animal production from buffalo grass is highly sensitive to stocking rate. It has been well adopted by smallholders grazing cattle under coconuts in the Pacific Islands because of its ease of establishment and tolerance of long-term heavy grazing. The ability of buffalo grass to form a dense, stable and weed-free sward under heavily shaded and heavily grazed conditions makes it worthy of consideration for grazing under plantation crop systems.

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