Sunday, May 15, 2011

Buffalo Grass

BUFFALO GRASS (Paspalum conjugatum) is a type of grass under Family Gramineae commony found in football field in Malaysia and many other tropical and su-tropical country. I knows this name of grass in detail during my stdy at University in second year 29 years ago at UPM Serdang. Other common names of this grass are Buffalo grass, carabao grass, sour paspalum (En). Indonesia: jampang pahit (Sundanese), paitan (Javanese), klamaran (Madura). Malaysia: rumput kerbau, rumput ala-negri. In the Philippines it known as Kulape (Tagalog), kauat-kauat (Visaya), kalo-kawayan (Ilokano) and in Thailand known as ya-nomnon or ya-hep (in Southern part). This article I dicuss about buffalo grass based on my knowledge and some references on old lecture notes.

Origin and geographic distribution
Originally from the American tropics and South East Asia Region, Paspalum conjugatum is naturalized throughout South-East Asia and in many tropical countries of the world. It is abundant in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and other Pacific Islands. Recently the grass are grown in Malaysia as commercial commodities for landscape, eroisons control weed and for new football construction requirements. The weed are serious enemies for many farmers.

A vigorous, creeping perennial with long stolons, rooting at nodes, with culms ascending to erect, 40-80(-100) cm tall, branching, solid, slightly compressed. Leaf-sheath stronglycompressed, usually 30-50 mm long, ciliate on the margins; ligule collar-shaped, about 1 mm long; leaf-blade linear or lanceolate-acuminate, 8-20 cm x 5-12 mm, glabrous to sparsely pubescent. Inflorescence well exerted with two or occasionally three diverging racemes, 7-16 cm long; spikelets solitary, imbricate, flattened ovate, up to 2 mm long, with long hairs on the margins; lower glume absent, upper glume with a fringe of long hairs (1 mm) along its margin. Caryopsis broadly ovoid, plano-convex, about 1 mm long, dark brown.

Products & uses
Buffalo Grass or Paspalum conjugatum is used as a forage for grazing or in cut-and-carry systems, and is rated as a very important natural pasture grass in coconut plantations. It is occasionally used as a lawn grass and is also regarded as an important weed in rice and plantation crops. The Iban of Borneo use leaf decoctions in the treatment of wounds and sores, and in the Serian of Sarawak crushed spikelets are used for the same purpose.

At the pre-flowering stage, the N concentration in P. conjugatum ranges from 1-2.2%. It is stated that only the young stage of the grass is suitable for grazing since the fruits tend to stick in the throats of livestock and choke them. The presence of a haemostatic glucoside, which reduced the time for blood clotting by 50%, has been reported for this species. Wet fruits may become very irritating as they easily stick to one's legs and clothing.

P. conjugatum grows from near sea-level up to 1700 m altitude in open to moderately shaded places. It is adapted to humid climates. It is found growing gregariously under plantation crops and also along stream banks, roadsides and in disturbed areas. Soil requirements for P. conjugatum is adapted to a wide range of soils. The propagation and planting of Buffalo Grass is propagated from prostate culms, using 2-3 nodes per cutting.

Growth and development
The germination percentage of P. conjugatum seed is usually low. Flowering commences 4-5 weeks after seedling emergence and it continues to flower year round. New shoots develop at every rooted node.

Close grazing is required to keep P. conjugatum in palatable stage as palatability declines rapidly after flowering. It is eaten more readily by water buffaloes than by cattle. In a mixture with Imperata cylindrica, it will dominate the latter if the pasture is grazed heavily. Close cutting and heavy grazing are recommended since it is tolerant of defoliation, and because this prevents seed head maturity, resulting in higher quality regrowth. Cut feed can be conserved as hay. Under a coconut plantation without any fertilizer a yield of 19 t/ha of green material has been obtained. Yield increased to 30 t/ha of green material following application of 15-15-15 N:P:K fertilizer at 310 kg/ha.


M Anem

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