ASSESSMENT OF FORAGE LEGUMES FOR RANGELAND IMPROVEMENT IN THE NORTHERN GUINEA SAVANNA OF nigeria
ASSESSMENT OF FORAGE LEGUMES FOR RANGELAND IMPROVEMENT IN THE NORTHERN GUINEA SAVANNA OF NIGERIA
To evaluate the performance of three forage legumes, Stylosanthes hamata(L) Taub, a three-year study (2004–2006) was conducted. Verano, Centrosema pascuorum Mart. ex Benth (Centurion) cv. Wynn and Chamaecrista rotundifolia (Pers) Grenne Range rehabilitation cavalcade.
The viability of improving range by strip-sowing the chosen forage legumes into natural pastures was investigated during the first part of the trial, which lasted sixteen months. Strip-sown legumes and natural pastures were used to gather information on legume establishment and forage dry matter yield.
The second step, which came after the first, involved introducing Bunaji bulls to graze the treatments continually for the following 12 months. In order to track changes in liveweight, grazing animals were weighed every two weeks, and the body condition score was tracked every month.
The varied forage legumes' persistence and dissemination were evaluated in the final year. S. hamata had the maximum stand density of 117 stands/m2 in the year of establishment, whereas C. pascuorum and C. rotundifolia had lower density counts of 65 stands/m2 and 25, respectively.
The number of S. hamata stands was noticeably higher (P 0.01) than either the C. pascuorum or C. rotundifolia stands. The number of stands in S. hamata and C. pascuorum decreased in the second year after introduction, but C. rotundifolia grew to 67 stands/m2.
In the third year, the stand counts of C. rotundifolia grew while those of S. hamata and C. pascuorum continued to decline. C. pascuorum had a 100% regeneration rate from seed, C. rotundfoilia had a 99.9% regeneration rate, and S. hamata had an 87.6% regeneration rate.
C. rotundifolia was discovered to have spread past the strips it had been sowed in the third year. The largest dry matter yields from the sowed legume strips at the start of grazing were in S. hamata strips (1.4t DM/ha) 8.
compared to C. pascuorum (0.9t DM/ha) and C. rotundifolia (1.1t DM/ha). The natural pasture alone produced 3.0 t DM/ha of dry matter. Paddocks in the grazing trial were stocked with 4 Bunaji bulls per ha. Over a 12-month period, the animals grazed from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Animals receiving S. hamata therapy gained more weight than those receiving C. rotundifolia treatment, while those receiving C. pascuorum treatment gained the least amount of weight. However, the effects of the treatment did not significantly differ.
Similar to body condition ratings, there were no significant differences (P>0.05) across the treatments for these scores, which ranged from 3.30 0.09 to 3.53 0.09. As a result, the findings of this study suggest that C. rotundifolia may be useful for reseeding damaged rangelands.
It can colonise areas more quickly than either S. hamata or C. pascuorum can. The drawback of C. pascuorum is that it is extremely vulnerable to pest infestations, which prevented it from setting seed and undergoing subsequent regeneration in the open strip-sown range site.
Further research into Chamaecrista rotundifolia for the restoration of damaged rangelands in the other Savanna ecological zones is advised.
1.1 ARABLE AND LIVESTOCK AGRICULTURE IN NIGERIA
Prior to the country's independence in 1960, agriculture accounted for more than 50% of the nation's GDP and more than 75% of its export revenue (Aregheore, 2005).
Until petroleum was discovered and exploited soon after the country gained independence from colonial Britain, it served as the foundation for its development.
Nigeria's economy underwent a significant transformation from one dependent on agriculture to one that is now a major oil exporter as a result of the growth of the petroleum sector in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
A two-year structural adjustment programme (SAP) was put in place by the government as a result of the sharp decline in petroleum prices on the global market in 1986.
The program's objectives were to increase non-oil exports, decrease imports of items that might be produced locally, and boost private sector involvement in agriculture in order to attain food self-sufficiency (Aregheore, 2005).
Many other sub-Saharan African nations have been putting structural adjustment programmes (SAP) into practise since the middle of the 1980s in an effort to address serious macroeconomic issues like declining export revenues, deteriorating balance of payments, rising debts, and slowing economic growth (Misana et al., 1996).
A substantial improvement in productivity was brought about by cuts in cereal imports and a resurgence of state and private investment in agriculture (FAO, 2001). Consequently, among other things, rising grain prices have been a key effect in nations that have implemented SAP (Misana et al., 1996).
The total effects of this were an increase in land clearing to create 19 new agricultural fields for crop production, a decrease in animal habitat and surface area, and an increase in the marginalisation of grazing to less profitable regions.
As a result, even if the production of cash and staple crops has grown steadily since 1990, the availability of animal products has been dropping over that time. On the other hand, as the population and urbanisation have grown, so has the need for animal products.
According to Aregheore (2005), Nigeria continues to be a net importer of animals and livestock products. The SAP was implemented, which caused a significant devaluation of the local currency and increased the cost of importing food and live animals because local production was unable to satisfy demand (FMEN, 2001).
Rangelands are acknowledged as an important baseline resource in the livestock business almost everywhere in the world. This is especially true on the continents of Africa, Australia, North and South America, where huge tracts of land provide as habitat and grazing for both domesticated animals and wild animals.
A billion domestic animals live on rangelands in the tropics, which are also home to 200 million people (Heady and Heady, 1982; ILRI, 1998).
Practically speaking, pastoralists who own more than 90% of the stock holdings are responsible for producing all ruminant livestock in Nigeria.
The majority of the animals is raised using a transhumant grazing technique across vast rangelands. The animals in this production method rely on the natural forages found on rangelands year-round, with little to no supplementation.
Rangeland makes a substantial socioeconomic contribution to the lives of people in developing nations, but it is frequently misused and neglected in terms of development, planning, and management for sustainability (Kallah, 1999).
The rapidly expanding human population and the challenges it brings about are just a few of the variables and changes that Pamo and Pieper (2000) recognised as having an increasing impact on rangeland resources.
The lack of vegetative cover and biomass production capacity on what is left of the rangeland poses the biggest obstacle to meeting the rising demand and feed needs of the grazing animals to be supported in a particular region (Hodgson, 1975).
No plan has been developed that can accommodate the wide variety of natural, environmental, and socio-economic conditions encountered in the management of the resources, despite the fact that the degradation of the Sub-Saharan rangelands is a topic of great concern and extensive study (Pamo and Pieper, 2000).
Before and after gaining independence from colonial rule, models from temperate regions were adopted into the tropical Sub-Saharan region, but they were unable to increase range production (Jahnke 1982; Scoones 1995).
Social, economic, cultural, and, most importantly, a poor grasp of the system's workings all worked against the models' effectiveness (Brumby, 1987; Preston and Murgueitio, 1994; Pamo and Pieper, 2000).
In order to properly manage open-access resources in a state of disequilibrium, Sub-Saharan governments must address the issue of rangelands' worsening degradation (Ellis, 1995).
This is required if livestock production is to be enhanced and maintained in the upcoming millennium. A plethora of data and expertise in a variety of sciences as well as experiences from other areas might be used and modified to offer a basis for easing some of the restrictions (Barnes 1985).
Legumes in particular have shown promise in that approach after being introduced into the range as productive, nutrient-rich plant species. According to Conner et al. (1998), legumes offer a large potential for improving the stability of feed resources in damaged landscapes.
The application of a mix of land topography alterations and the introduction of suitable forage species to stabilise the system may be used to restore landscapes with extreme loss of soil and nutrients that otherwise could not be rejuvenated through enhanced grazing management alone.
According to Conner et al. (1998), the introduction of legumes has been proposed as a low-cost, socially acceptable restoration strategy that can modify the landscape and enable grazed ecosystems to stabilise.
The best legume would need to be able to endure grazing, constant fires, and be capable of producing a high seed yield that can quickly spread throughout the native range and naturally colonise enormous regions.
In the end, such species would be anticipated to raise grazing animal productivity, particularly during the dry season, and enhance grassland primary productivity to stop further land degradation.
The following hypotheses formed the basis of this study:
H0: There will be no differences among three imported legumes in terms of their capacity to take root, significantly improve dry matter output, boost animal production, endure, and colonise the native range.
Ha: The capacity of three imported legumes to establish, significantly contribute to dry matter production, improve animal output, persist, and colonise the native rangeland will vary.
The trial's main goal was to find suitable forage legume species to strip-sow into the Northern Guinea Savanna's native rangeland in order to increase the productivity of the native rangeland, subject to open access utilisation. The following were the precise goals:
i) To ascertain whether three newly introduced legumes can flourish in the area's natural rangeland.
ii) To assess the three legumes‘ ability to produce dry matter in the native rangeland.
iii) To ascertain the impact of the legumes on livestock grazing the pastures, and
iv) To evaluate the legumes' capacity to endure and colonise the native rangeland.