Evaluation of saltgrass as a fodder crop for livestock

Amnon Bustan, Dov Pasternak, Irina Pirogova, Muhamet Durikov, Tonny T. Devries, Shaher El-Meccawi, A. Allan Degen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Farmland salinization due to unsustainable agricultural practices has become a worldwide problem. Salt-resistant forage crops, introduced at the primary stages of land reclamation, can provide fodder for livestock, thus adding economic benefit to the process. Saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), a wild halophytic grass species distributed in salt marshes in America, is occasionally grazed by livestock and wild animals. In attempts to domesticate this species, we evaluated and ranked the fodder potential of groups of accessions from several sites in North and South America. Ash content never exceeded 110 g kg-1, even when plants were grown with salty water. Crude protein content was variable and averaged 116 g kg-1 of DM. Mean yield of metabolizable energy was 6.30 and 5.61 kJ g-1 DM for sheep and goats, respectively. Organic matter digestibility (in vitro) was higher in sheep than in goats (506 g kg-1 and 478 g kg-1, respectively) for all saltgrass accessions. Differences in quality parameters were usually larger within than among groups of accession when sorted according to country of origin or ecosystem. Accessions from the South Atlantic coast of North America and from South America were superior in several parameters. South Atlantic coast accessions were relatively vigorous and were productive under saline conditions, as indicated by their relative growth rate (RGR) in small-scale experiments. Six outstanding saltgrass accessions were chosen for further examination. The results of the present study indicate that saltgrass holds considerable promise for selection and suggest that efforts should continue to identify and characterize additional saltgrass ecotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2077-2084
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Volume85
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2005

Keywords

  • Accessions
  • Digestible organic matter
  • Distichlis spicata
  • Fodder
  • Leafiness
  • Metabolizable energy yield
  • Saline
  • Saltgrass

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