The new grass, brachiaria is helping Dairy farmers overcome fodder crises caused by over-reliance on napier grass. Research shows that the grass is highly drought torelant and grows in major agroecological zones in Eastern Africa.
Mulato and Mulato II
Other cultivars include Murandu and MG4
NB: Mulatto II is adapted to most agro-ecological zones
Rainfall: At least 700mm annually. The grass responds well under irrigation in arid and semi-arid areas and under rain fed conditions wet areas.
Altitude: Above 1800m above sea level
Soils: Well drained soils with medium fertility and PH ranging from 5-8.
The grass is propagated either through seeds or vegetative materials (root splits and stem cuttings).
Plough the land early before the rains. Harrow the seedbed to fine tilth and add well decomposed organic manure at a rate of 4 tons per acre. Add 100kg TSP fertilizer incase the soil has phosphorus deficiency.
Ensure that planting coincide with the rains for easy grass establishment.
Planting from seeds: Make small furrows on the nursery 1-2cm deep and sow seeds. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and then mulch using dry grass. Transplant seedlings 6-8 weeks after sowing.
Alternatively direct seeding can be done, make furrows 2cm deep in the main seedbed then drill seeds in the furrows and cover lightly with soil. Mulch using dry grass to conserve soil moisture for easy grass establishment.
Seed range ranges from 2.5kgs to 3kgs per acre.
Planting from root splits and stem cuttings: Obtain root or stem cuttings from healthy and mature mother plants, plant the materials on each hill at a spacing of 25cm by 50cm. One acre will require roughly 32000 splits.
You can buy bracharia seeds from Amiran Kenya or Kenya Agriculture Research and Livestock organization (KARLO)
Fertilizer and manure application depend on pasture production system used. Grass grown under cut and carry production system will require fertilizer and manure application as pasture under this system removes most of plant nutrients from the soil.
Under such pasture production system add 4 tones of manure and 80kg CAN per acre to improve pasture production, quality and quantity
Remove all weeds from the pasture field especially during early stages of pasture establishment. Achieve this through manual weeding through light tillage.
Red spider mite and Shoot borers are the main pests though hardly do they compromise pasture yield.
Smut, Ergot, Rust and Leaf spots are the main diseases but the grass tolerates attack.
Harvest the grass 4-5 months after planting. Cut the grass 5cm above the ground. Re-harvest the pasture grass in 8-12 weeks depending on soil moisture status and soil fertility. The grass can remain productive for 20 years under better pasture stand management.
Conserved as hay or silage.