Tropical Grasslands (2001) Volume 35, 168–174

Yield and nutritive value of tropical forage legumes grown in semi-arid parts of Zimbabwe


University of Zimbabwe, Department of Animal Science, Mt Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe


Four legume species (Lablab purpureus cv. Highworth, Macroptilium atropurpureum cv. Siratro, Stylosanthes guianensis cv. Fine stem and Desmodium uncinatum cv. Silverleaf) were grown in experimental plots on 4 soil types in Gokwe South District, Zimbabwe from 1995–1998. The textural classes of the soils were sand, sandy loam, sandy clay loam and clay. The first 3 soil types are regosols formed on Kalahari sands and the clay soils are black vertosols derived from basalt. Legume yield was not significantly affected (P > 0.05) by the type of soil. Lablab out-performed the other legumes with a dry matter yield of 5.9 t/ha, compared with 3.1, 2.9 and 3.3 t/ha for Siratro, Fine stem and Silverleaf desmodium, respectively. The corresponding protein concentrations in the legumes were 159, 167, 159 and 134 g/kg DM. The results show that all of these legumes can be grown satisfactorily in areas of high temperature and low rainfall and produce forage with a high protein concentration, with lablab producing the highest DMY.

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