Productivity of 12 Stylosanthes in semi-arid Mozambique
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A forage legume that stays green during the dry season yet competes with aggressive native grasses during the rains in southern Mozambique is needed for the establishment of forage banks. To this end, the vigour and plot cover at establishment as well as dry matter production of edible material at 6 monthly (6MO; end of rains and end of dry season) and 12 monthly (12MO; end of dry season) intervals were measured on 12 Stylosanthes entries with and without a 200 kg/ha triple superphosphate application. Crude protein was determined on batched material. The sandy soils of the trial site in southern Mozambique were generally infertile and well drained and no weeding took place. Rainfall averaged 677 mm/yr during the 5 years of the trial. Phosphorus application had a positive effect (P = 0.006; P = 0.03, respectively) on plot vigour and cover but had no effect (P>0.10) on dry matter productivity. Dry matter yield was 112% higher (P = 0.048) and crude protein concentration was 10% higher for the 6MO harvested material averaged over years, entries and phosphorus application. Dry matter production averaged only 298 kg/ha in the first year of harvest and declined progressively each year, while grass competition was very strong. The highest producing entries were Stylosanthes guianensis var. Pauciflora, S. scabra cvv. Seca and Fitzroy as well as S. hamata cv. Verano. By Year 5, no differences (P = 0.33) amongst entries were measured. In conclusion, the entries studied were not able to tolerate harvest during the dry season while competing with ungrazed grasses in the rainy season.
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