Tropical Grasslands (1992) Volume 26, 82–88

Above-ground production and response to defoliation on a native pasture in lowland Nepal

J.F. LEHMKUHL

King Mahendra Trust/IIED Grassland Ecology & Human Use Project, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Abstract

Annual above-ground production, livestock consumption, and response to experimental defoliation were measured on adjacent grazed and fenced areas of a village pasture in lowland Nepal. Grazed pasture composition was dominated by Chrysopogon aciculatus (45%), Cynodon dactylon (19%), and Imperata cylindrica (19%). Ungrazed pasture inside an adjacent 22 m x 22 m exclosure was dominated by I. cylindrica after one year of protection from grazing. Annual above-ground production of the grazed area was 8700 kg/ha, whereas production inside the exclosure was 17 000 kg/ha. Livestock consumed nearly all the annual above-ground production. An experiment examined the effect of four frequencies of defoliation on pasture production. Defoliation reduced production in a nonlinear manner: defoliation every 11 days reduced production 42%, but defoliation every 90 days reduced production 21%. A model was fitted to cumulative production measured for three defoliation treatments to estimate periodic and annual yield for 2-week, 7-week, and 13-week schedules of cutting protected pastures for stall feeding village livestock. Cutting grass on a 13-week schedule has the potential to produce 13% more fodder than continuous grazing and provides a partial solution to illegal grazing in Chitwan National Park.

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