Elephant Grass Essay

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Natural pastures are the main sources of feed for ruminants, and form the major feed component of domesticated livestock in Ghana. However, unfavorable rainfall pattern, uneven seasonal growth and unavailability of pasture during certain times of the year have been considered the major limitations to constant supply of forage for ruminants.
There are two seasons in Ghana, the dry and wet season. Forages are normally abundant in the wet season but this is in reverse to the dry season. These changes affect both the quality and quantity of nutrients in the forages for livestock in Ghana.
Elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) is a monocot belonging to the family Poaceae (grass family) and genus Pennisetum. It was named after colonel Napier of
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Being a grass, it shares the common trait with other members of the grass family for the ability to grow with low input, and thus is suited for sustainable production (Mannetje, 1992).
Elephant grass is a multipurpose plant but mainly used in cut-and-carry systems and fed in stalls, or made into silage or hay (FAO, 2015). The young leaves and shoots are edible to humans (Burkill, 1985) and considered as the second generation energy source crop in the USA (EPA, 2013).
Elephant grass requires high levels of water and fertilizer. According to Francis (2004), yield range from 20 to 80 t DM/ha/year under high fertilizer inputs. With no or inadequate fertilizer, yields are in the range of 2-10 t DM/ha/year. Cuttings can be done at 45 – 90 day interval depending on the location.
Elephant grass can be cultivated in association with legumes such as pigeon pea (cajanus cajan) and leucaena though it is usually grown in pure stands (Mannetje, 1992). Its association with legumes has higher nutritional value and higher dry matter yield than elephant grass
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Based on dry matter yield production and crude protein content, the planting of elephant grass using planting distances of 1m x 0.25m and 0.5m x 0.5m would be advantageous to the smallholder farmers (in the semiarid areas of Ethiopia and in similar agro-ecologies of the country) instead of large areas (Tessema, 2008).
Wijitphan et al. (2009) reported dry matter yield of 70.84 t/ha when elephant grass was cultivated with a planting distance of 0.5m × 0.4m as compared to dry matter yield of 55.80 t/ha with planting distance of 1m × 0.5m. Elephant grass biomass is reported to increase when inter and intra row spacing is decreased (Sumran et al., 2009). According to Bhatti et al. (1985), green and dried weight yield increase at low inter and intra row spacing. The higher yield at closer spacing are attributed to the higher tiller height and number per unit area, as well as leaf tiller, and number of leaves per tiller.
Bhatti et al. (1985) again reported that taller plants are obtained by less spacing because of plant competition for nutrients and tend to become long rather than

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