The University of Arizona

Semi-arid warm-season grass yield and nutritive value in Argentina.

N.P. Stritzler, J.H. Pagella, V.V. Jouve, C.M. Ferri


The use of standing dead biomass, during the winter that was produced by warm-season grasses in the previous growing season by pregnant beef cows may be an alternative to grazing systems in the semi-arid Pampean Region of Argentina. This study, conducted over 2 years, 1990 and 1991, compared the winter forage quality produced during the previous growing season for 4 warm-season grasses; switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L. cv. Pathfinder), kleingrass (Panicum coloratum L.), tetrachne (Tetrachne dregei Nees) and weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula (Schrad), Nees cv. Tanganyka). Five harvests of the summer growth started after the first frost, and were spaced evenly throughout the winter period. Changes in the standing crop of dry matter were measured and subsamples of forage were divided into leaf and stem fractions. Forage quality analyses included: crude protein (CP), in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD), effective rumen degradability (ED), neutral (NDF) and acid (ADF) detergent fiber and lignin. Tetrachne dregei produced forage with a higher leaf:stem ratio and of generally higher quality, than the other species, although the differences were not always significant. Its CP content was marginally below the maintenance requirements of cows. Dry matter yield of tetrachne was lower than that of weeping lovegrass, but differences were only significant in 1990. Kleingrass generally was high in quality and dry matter yield, although it was the lowest in percentage of leaves of the 4 species evaluated. Switchgrass was the least productive; the nutritive value of its forage was low, comparable or lower than that of weeping lovegrass. The first harvest date was higher in nutritive value. Although the nutritive value of leaves and stems were not compared statistically, the leaves tended to be higher than the stems. Tetrachne dregei, the best of the species evaluated in this study, is a very promising warm-season grass, which could provide nutritious forage for winter grazing systems in the semiarid Pampean Region of Argentina.


tetrachne dregei;Panicum coloratum;leaves;Eragrostis curvula;stems;lignin;protein content;fiber content;rain;winter;Panicum virgatum;species differences;beef cows;crude protein;biomass production;semiarid zones;in vitro digestibility;seasonal variation;Argentina;nutritive value;grazing;forage;dry matter

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