EFFECT OF VARYING LEVELS OF ORGANIC FERTILISERS ON DRY MATTER YIELD AND CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF NAPIER GRASS (PENNISETUM PURPUREUM) GROWN AT UNISWA FARM, LUYENGO CAMPUS

G.Z. Khumalo, R.M. Magongo

Abstract


Planted pastures are essential in dairy production. They ensure constant supply of high quality feed supply. They, however, require high inputs of fertilisers and most small scale farmers cannot afford the high prices of commercial fertilisers. Thus it is essential to explore the use of relatively cheaper organic fertilisers. This study was conducted to determine the dry matter yield and chemical composition of Napier grass using varying levels of cattle manure from grazing dairy cows supplemented with silage and dairy meal and chicken manure from layers. A randomized complete block design (CRBD) was used. There were 12 treatments replicated four times. Treatments consisted mainly the use of different levels of cattle manure used as basal fertiliser and of two levels of chicken manure, 5 t/ha and 10 t/ha used as topdressing fertiliser. Treatment one -negative control where neither cattle manure was added as basal fertiliser nor chicken manure added as topdressing fertiliser; treatment two- no basal fertiliser added but 5 t/ha of chicken manure added as topdressing fertiliser; treatment three – no addition of cattle manure as basal fertiliser but addition of 10 t/ha of chicken manure as topdressing fertiliser; treatment four - addition of 5 t/ha of cattle manure as basal fertiliser and 5 t/ha of chicken manure as topdressing fertiliser; treatment five - addition of 5 t/ha of cattle manure as basal fertiliser and 10 t/ha of chicken manure as topdressing fertiliser; treatment six - addition of 10 t/ha of cattle manure as basal fertiliser and 5 t/ha of chicken manure as topdressing fertiliser; treatment seven - addition of 10 t/ha of cattle manure as basal fertiliser and 10 t/ha of chicken manure as topdressing fertiliser; treatment eight - addition of 15 t/ha of cattle manure as basal fertiliser and 5 t/ha of chicken manure as topdressing fertiliser; treatment nine - addition of 15 t/ha of cattle manure as basal fertiliser and 10 t/ha of chicken manure as topdressing fertiliser; Treatment ten- addition of 20 t/ha of cattle manure as basal fertiliser and 5 t/ha of chicken manure as topdressing fertiliser; treatment 11 - addition of 20 t/ha of cattle manure as basal fertiliser and 10 t/ha of chicken manure as topdressing fertiliser; treatment 12 was the positive control where 500 kg/ha of commercial fertiliser was used as basal fertiliser and 800 kg/ha of limestone ammonium nitrate (LAN) was added in three splits as topdressing fertiliser. Dry matter yield of Napier grass was significantly (P < 0.05) higher in the treatment that used recommended fertiliser and in the treatment with 15 t/ha of cattle manure added as basal fertiliser and top-dressed with 5 t/ha of chicken manure. Chemical composition was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in treatments that received 20 t/ha cattle manure added as basal fertiliser with topdressing of 5 t/ha chicken manure, and also 20 t/ha cattle manure basal fertiliser with topdressing of 10 t/ha chicken manure. In Napier grass production, to receive dry matter yields from organic fertilisers comparable to commercial fertilisers, farmers must apply at least 15 tonnes per ha of cattle manure as basal and top-dress with 5 tonnes per ha of chicken manure.


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