Species diversity and forage value of herbage in a neglected coconut land proposed for livestock integration

The proposed coconut land is situated in the southern province, belongs to the land suitability class S4 which is moderately suitable for coconut. Therefore, managing coconut as monoculture is unprofitable and steps have been taken to optimize the land use through livestock integration. Therefore, objective of this study was to investigate the species diversity and forage value of understory vegetation in the coconut land before introducing cattle. Stratified quadrate sampling technique was adopted and 4 samples each from 6 paddocks (approx 0.4 ha) were randomly taken. Each stratum contained more than 80% of edible species while the non edible species found in all strata were common upland weeds. Axonopus affinus (carpet grass), Axonopus compressus (narrow carpet grass) and Desmodium trifolium were dominant prostate grass and legume species found in 0-5 cm strata above ground level. In addition to above species Pueraria phasioloides (Centro) was found to be dominant in 5-15 cm strata. Crysopogen ariculatus and Pueraria phasioloides were dominant in 15-25 cm strata while Seteria anceps (fox tail grass) found to be dominant above 25 cm height. The common non-edible species found in the lower two strata’s were Urena lobota, Hemidesmus indicum and Ocimum tenuiflorum while Lantana camara and Ocimum tenuiflorum were dominant in upper two strata’s. The dry matter (DM) and crude protein (CP) content of edible herbage increased from bottom to top layers ranged from 390 gkg-1 to 480 gkg-1 and 75 gkg-1 to 100 gkg-1 respectively.

The results of this study reveal that the species diversity and forage value are in an acceptable standard to initiate cattle grazing. However, crop and cattle management strategies are important in order to improve coconut and livestock performance.

L Kumanayaka, T Seresinhe, M de S Liyanage and I Pathirana

Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna, Mapalana, Kamburupitiya, Sri Lanka.