Brachiaria grass, natively from Africa, has undergone decades of improvement in Colombia and now promises poverty eradication right here in Africa.
International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) has developed a new variety of grass, Brachiaria spp., which will improve your herd’s productivity by a whopping 40%.
According to their research findings, brachiaria is a very hardy forage crop that will resist harsh climatic conditions and produce bounty yields. In addition to that, this grass could be the next big thing in cutting carbon emissions that is currently a huge headache. Adopting this forage crop could generate millions of dollars in revenue to the national economy.
This comes as a big relief to farmers who have had to struggle with pests and diseases affecting other forage crops like Napier grass, alfalfa, and clovers. According to Dr. Solomon Mwendia, a Forage Agronomist at CIAT, brachiaria grass is able to defend itself from the effects of these devastating effects that can lead to total loss of the pastures.
Research findings indicate that this grass has a chemical response that enables it to produce metabolites that repel the pests. Consequently, the grass is able to survive pest and diseases attack. This comes as a good news to the farmers can expect to reap big following the recent surge in the consumer demand for dairy products.
Brachiaria grass thrives in harsh conditions where other forage grasses fail
Bracharia also has a well-developed root network system that enhances water uptake from the soil, making it one of the hardiest forage crops around. Reports from trials carried out in Kenya indicate that bracharia is able to survive in areas where other grasses fail due to water unavailability.#Brachiaria grass helps #dairyfarmers save time spent looking for rubbish feeds Click To Tweet
CIAT researchers developed the brachiaria grass to survive harsh growing environments yet still be able to produce a bounty harvest with numerous nutritional benefits for the livestock.
Our research shows that brachiaria grasses could be the cornerstone of productive and resilient livestock systems that quickly provide more milk and money for small-scale dairy farmers.
Dr. Solomon Mwendia.
Feeding takes the greatest percentage of the costs of dairy production. Every farmer would appreciate a crop that can relieve them of losses and improve their productivity at the same time. The additional income is very likely to positively impact on the lives of smallholder farmers.
Here’s how brachiaria grass increases milk production in dairy animals
It is important to ensure forage quality to improve production output. Farmers in Rwanda reported improved yields and markedly reduced losses in their farms since they started using brachiaria grass.
The improved varieties of brachiaria grass is easily digestible and have higher conversion rates. This means that a farmer gets every liter of milk at a lower methane emission rates than with the conventional feeds.
Brachiaria grass cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions
That is an excellent news for the environmentally conscious farmers because they know that their activities do not exert much pressure on the environment. What a smart way to reduce the carbon footprint.
As a matter of fact, brachiaria is way smarter than conventional grasses when it comes to carbon and nitrogen fixation. Through its well developed root network, brachiaria not only mitigates soil erosion but also captures carbon and fixes it into the soil.#Brachiaria grass cuts down on #greenhouse gas #emissions Click To Tweet
Another glaring advantage of this grass is its ability to capture nitrogen and fix it into the soil. Up to 40 percent of nitrogen fertilizers applied to crops is lost through conversion into nitrous oxide (N2O), which is a greenhouse gas with over 300-fold potency than carbon (IV) oxide.
Biological Nitrification Inhibition (BNI) capacity of brachiaria grass
Bracharia grass produces a chemical called brachialactone through its roots into the soil, which is a Biological Nitrifying Inhibitor. The ensuing slow release of nitrogen drastically cuts down the volume of the greenhouse gas emission from farms as a result of fertilizer use.
Currently, the researches at CIAT are investigating the genes responsible for BNI and the possibility of transporting such genes into other forage crops to help cut down on emissions.
Want to buy the seeds?
CIAT is currently conducting field tests to ascertain the viability of commercial production of this grass to feed the demand. There are some farmers in central Kenya and Rift valley who are already enjoying the benefits of this grass.
If you want to be an early adopter, you can visit your nearest KALRO branch and inquire from there. This is particularly important because there are many species of brachiaria grass, each has been developed to suit different ecological zones.
You can also get the seeds/cultivars from an established farmer who is already cultivating this grass.
Procuring the seeds from CIAT may be a possibility but it will be more costly since they have to import the seeds from Colombia.
In any case you may not find the seeds from KALRO, you can establish your brachiaria pastures from cultivars, which you can procure from established farms.
Have you already started using brachiaria to feed your animals?
Let’s hear your story in the comments. You can leave your contacts if you have the seeds to sell to other farmers.
All buyers should do due diligence before parting with their money.