Tropical Grasslands (1991) Volume 25, 337–341

Sericea lespedeza production on acid soils in Swaziland


1Malkerns Research Station, P.O. Box 4, Malkerns, Swaziland.
2Agronomy Dept, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 3 0602, USA.


An adapted perennial low-input forage legume is needed on the very acid soils of Swaziland to feed cattle during the long winter dry season. Serala and Interstate 76 (high-tannin) and AU Donnelly and AU Lotan (low-tannin) sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) cultivars developed in the southeastern USA were planted in yield trials in the low, middle, and highveld of Swaziland at 150, 950 and 1500 m elevation, and harvested over a 4-year period. At the middleveld location, the effect of rhizobia inoculation of seed and N fertilisation on all cultivars was also studied.
After the establishment year, dry forage yields over the next three years were high. Interstate 76 and AU Donnelly cultivars averaged 12 210 and 9830 kg/ha in the middleveld (soil pH 4.8) and 9390 and 87 10 kg/ha in the highveld (soil pH 4). At the lowveld location (soil pH 8.0), forage yields were low and plants died after two years. Seed inoculation and N fertilisation had no effect on forage yield. Forage N concentration averaged 2.8 g/kg at all locations. Sericea lespedeza offers excellent potential for hay production on the very acid soils of the middle and highveld of Swaziland.

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