A. BULDGEN1, B. MICHIELS2, S. ADJOLOHOUN2, S. BABATOUNDE2, C. and C. ADANDEDJAN2
1Unité de Zootechnie, Faculté Universitaire des Sciences Agronomiques, Gembloux, Belgium
2Département de Production Animale, Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques, Université Nationale du Bénin, Abomey-Calavi, Benin
Six grasses (Panicum maximum cvv. C1, T58, 673 and a native accession, Brachiaria ruziziensis and Andropogon gayanus) were evaluated in small plots in 1997 and 1998 for production and nutritive value in south Benin. The experiment was carried out on a typical gently sloping plateau with poor sandy soils. Rainfall in the first year equalled the annual average for the region (1300 mm), while the second year was particularly dry (775 mm).
Highest production in the first year was recorded with Panicum maximum cv. C1 (10.8 t/ha DM). The native Panicum maximum and cvv. T58 and 673 of the same species produced 7.0, 6.3 and 6.5 t/ha DM, respectively. Andropogon gayanus yielded 3 t/ha DM. Brachiaria ruziziensis yielded 4 t/ha DM during the rainy season, but died at the beginning of the 1997–98 dry season.
With the drought during the second year, only Panicum maximum cv. C1 and Andropogon gayanus survived. Their production (6.3 and 2.6 t/ha DM, respectively) was below that recorded in the first year.
The highest nutritive values were recorded for the native accession of Panicum maximum and cv. T58, which contained digestible crude protein concentrations ranging between 11.3–13.3% (DM basis). Compared with the other species, Brachiaria ruziziensis and Andropogon gayanus had low concentrations of digestible crude protein.
Panicum maximum cv. C1 and Andropogon gayanus are recommended for further testing as perennial fodder crops, because of their production capacity on the poor soils and their adaptation to the variable rainfall of the region.