Effects of fertilizer type and harvesting age on species composition, yield and chemical composition of natural pasture in the highlands of Ethiopia




Abstract. Yalew S, Asmare B, Mekuriaw Y. 2020. Effects of fertilizer type and harvesting age on species composition, yield, and chemical composition of natural pasture in the highlands of Ethiopia. Biodiversitas 21: 4999-5007. The experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of fertilizer type and harvesting age on species composition, yield, and chemical composition of natural pasture in the highlands of Ethiopia. The experiment was laid out in randomized complete block design with factorial arrangement of two factors (fertilizer and harvesting age) with five replications. The data collected from the current study were forage species composition, dry matter yield, and chemical composition of natural pasture at different ages of harvesting. Forage species composition was determined by taking representative samples and identifying species from each sampling site. The samples of natural pasture were harvested at 90 and 120 days of age, weighed, dried, and then ground after that subsamples were taken for analyses of dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), ash, acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent lignin (ADL). All the collected data were subjected to GLM ANOVA procedures of SAS version 9.0. The result indicated that all species composition and dry matter yield were significantly affected (P<0.001) by fertilizer type and harvesting ages. Higher forbs (0.66%) were found in control plot at 90 days of harvesting age. Natural pasture harvested at 120 days of harvesting and urea fertilizer application results the highest dry matter yield (DMY) (8.26 t/ha) while the lowest level (3.20 t/ha) from unfertilized plot at 90 and 120 days of harvesting. The relative proportion of legumes in the natural pasture attained its climax stage at 90 days while grass attained at 120 days of harvesting. The highest mean DMY (6.24 tone/ha) was obtained at 120 days of harvesting and the lowest (4.71 ton/ha) at 90 days of harvesting. Among the chemical composition parameters, DM, ash and CP were significantly affected (P<0.001) by both fertilizer type and harvesting age. The content of CP and ash were increased with manure fertilizer at early harvest age and were decreased with delayed harvest age. The application of fertilizer type did not significantly affect (P>0.05) NDF content of the natural pasture rather affected by stage of harvesting (P<0.001). Regardless of DM yield, better quality pasture was recorded for early (90 days) harvesting age and use of compost recommended for future natural pasture improvements as use of chemical fertilizer is relatively expensive for the majority of smallholder farmers in the highlands.


Agza B; Kassa B; Zewdu S; Aklilu E. 2013. Forage yield and nutritive value of natural pastures at varying levels of maturity in North West Lowlands of Ethiopia. World Journal of Agricultural Sciences.1 (3):106-112.
Ahmed M; Yossif I. 2013. Effect of organic and inorganic fertilizers on proximate analysis of Rhodes grass (ChlorisgayanaL. Knuth.), Universal, J. PlantSci.1 (4): 137-140.
Angassa A. 2014. Effects of grazing intensity and bush encroachment on herbaceous specie and rangeland condition in southern Ethiopia. Land degradation and Development 25: 438-451.
AOAC.2004. Official methods of analysis. (16th Ed.) Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Washington DC.
Aregheore EM. 2002. Voluntary intake and digestibility of fresh, wilted and dry Leucaena (Leucaena leucochepala) at four levels to a basal diet of guinea grass (Panicum maximum). Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 15:1139-1146.
Atsbha T; Estifanos A; Wayu S; Tesfay T; Baraki A. 2015. Rehabilitation of degraded pasture land through application of urea and slurry: The Case of Ayba Pasture Land, Southern Tigray, Ethiopia, Livestock Research for Rural Development, 27 (9).
Bogale S; Melaku S; Yami A. 2008. Potential use of crop residue as livestock feed reduces under small holder farmers conditions in Bale high lands of Ethiopia. Tropical and subtropical Agro ecosystems, 8(1):107-114.
Bumane S. 2010. The Influence of N p k Fertilization on Lolium Perennial L. Forage Quality, Agronomy Research 8, 531-536.And Outreach Prepared for Iowa State University.
Caddel J; Allen E. 2010. Forage quality interpretations. Available at: http://virtual.
Cahit B; Sebahattin A; Osman Y.2010.Effects of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilization on the quality and yield of native range land. Turkish Journal of Field Crops, 2010, 15(2): 164-168
Crowder LV; Chheda, MR. 1982. Tropical grassland husbandry. Longman, London, pp. 315-316, 346-350, 562.
CSA (Central Statistics Agency). 2017. Agricultural sampling survey report on livestock and livestock characteristics (private peasant holdings).Statistical Bulletin583, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Denekew Y; Tamir B; Melaku S. 2005. Effect of harvesting date on composition and yield of natural pasture in north western Ethiopia. Trop. Sci. 45:19–22.
Feyissa F; Shivprasad; Assefa G; Bediye S; Kifaw G; Kehaliew A; Kebede G.2014. Dynamics in nutritional characteristics of natural pasture hay as affected by harvesting stage, storage method and storage duration in the cooler tropical high lands. African journal of agricultural research, 9(43):3233-3244
Feyter C; O’Connor MB; Addison B.2005. Effects of rates and times of nitrogen application on the production and composition of dairy pastures in Waikato district, New Zealand. NZ J Exp Agri. 13: 247-52.
Gomide JA; Noller CH; Mott GO; Conard JH; Hill DL. 1969. Effect of plant age and nitrogen fertilization on the chemical composition and in vitro cellulose digestibility of tropical grasses. Argon. Journal, 16:116-120.
Haileslassie A; Pries JA; Veldkamp E; Lesschen JP. 2007. Nutrient flows and balances at the field and farm scale: Exploring effects of land-use strategies and access to resources. Agricultural Systems, 94, 459-470.
Halgerson JL; Sheaffer CC; Martin NP; Peterson PR; Weston SJ.2004. Near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy prediction of leaf and mineral concentrations in alfalfa. Agronomy. J., 96, 344-351.
Hanife M; Ayan Z; Ugur B; Ozlem A. 2010. The effects of different improvement methods on pasture yield and quality of hay obtained from the abandoned rangeland, Turkish Journal of Field Crops, 15(2):198-203.
Hassan A; Zewdu T; Urge M; Fikru S. 2015. Effects of nitrogen fertilizer application on nutritive value of Cenchrus Ciliaris and Panicum Maximum grown under irrigation at Gode, Somali Region, Global Journal of Medical Research: L Nutrition & Food Science,15(1):1-9.
Jukenvicius S; Sabiene N. 2007. The content of mineral elements in some grasses and legumes. Ekologija. 53:44-52.
Kebede G; Assefa G; Feyisa F; Mengistu A. 2015. Some management and improvement practices of natural pasture in the mid and high altitude areas of Ethiopia. Pasture and Range Research Development in Ethiopia: Int. J. Livest. Res. 6(5): 1-14
Kitaba A;Tamir B. 2007. Effect of harvesting stage and nutrient levels on nutritive values of natural pasture in central highlands of Ethiopia. AGRICULTURAL TROPICA ET SUBTROPICAL, 40 (1):7-12
Knot P; Hrab? F.2012. Effect of fertilization and harvest frequency on floristic composition and yields of meadow stand. In Acta Universitatis Agriculture ET Silviculturae Mendelianae Brunensis, 60: 181–186. DOI: 10.11118/actaun201260050181.
Malede B; Takele A. 2014. Livestock feed resources assessment, constraints and improvement strategies in Ethiopia, Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research 21 (4): 616-622, 2014
Mannetje T; Jones J; Stobbs H. 1976. Pasture evaluation by grazing experiments. In: N.H. Shaw & W.W. Bryan (eds). Tropical pasture research. Principles & methods. Bull. 51. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux. Farnham Royal.Bucks. England. 222-234.
Marie S;Pavlina M; Karel F; Hana K;Oldrich L; Jan P. 2014. Effect of organic fertilizers on botanical composition of grassland, herbage yield and quality. Agriculture. 60(3): 87?97 DOI: 10.2478/agri-2014-0010.
Maynard AL; Losli KJ; Hintz FH.1981. Animal Nutrition, 7th edition. Tata Mc Graw Hill Publishing Company Limited. New Delhi, India.
McDowell LR; Valle G. 2000. Major minerals in forages. In D.I. Givens, E. Owen, R.F.E. Ax ford and H. M. Omed (Eds.). Forage Evaluation in Ruminant Nutrition. CABI Publishing, New York, NY.
MDOA(Mecha District Office of Agriculture). 2015. Baseline line report. Mecha, District of Development of Agricultural office, Ethiopia.
Melese A;Markku Y. 2016. Effects of applications of lime, wood ash, manure and mineral P fertilizer on the inorganic P fractions and other selected soil chemical properties on acid soil of Farta District, Northwestern highland of Ethiopia. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 11(2):87-99
Mengistu A; Kebede G; Feyissa F; Assefa G. 2017. Review on Major Feed Resources in Ethiopia: Conditions, Challenges and Opportunities, Academic Research Journal of Agricultural Science and Research, 5(3):6-185.
Mut H. 2009. Determination of effectiveness of different improvement methods on a plowed and abandoned pasture. PhD Thesis (in Turkish), on dokuz Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey, p. 148.
Nega I; Seyoum M; Berhanu MN. 2015. A study of forage yield and nutritive value of natural pastures at varying levels of maturity in North West Lowlands of Ethiopia. Frontiers of Agriculture and Food Technology.3 (1):259-264.
Nemera F. 2016. Assessment of vegetation dynamics as feed resource and improvement of grazing lands in sheep dominated areas of west shoa zone, oromia region, Ethiopia
Nemera F; Zewdu T; Ebro A.2018. Effect of Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers Applications on the highlands grasslands of the Acidic Soil Physical and Chemical Properties: The Case of Meta-Robi District. Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare, 18(3):15-22
Rambau MD; Fushai F; Baloyi JJ. 2016. Productivity, chemical composition and ruminal degradability of irrigated Napier grass leaves harvested at three stages of maturity. South African Journal of Animal Science , 46( 4):398-408.
Shehu Y; Akinola JO. 1995. The productivity of pure and mixed grass-legume pastures in the North Guinea Savanna zone of Nigeria. Tropical grassland, 29(2): 115-121.
Shenkoru T. 1987. Nutritive values, dry matter yield and in vitro digestibility as affected by cutting interval and fertilizer application on native natural pastures growing on three soil types at Alemaya University campus, MSc Thesis the School of Graduate Studies of Alemaya University, Alemaya, Ethiopia. 160p.
Stephen K; Barnhart AP; Mallarino J; Sawyer E. 2013. Extension and Outreach Prepared for Iowa State University.
Tegegne A; Gebremedhin B; Dirk H. 2019. Smallholder dairy production and marketing systems in Ethiopia: IPMS experiences and opportunities for market-oriented development; Working Paper No. 31.
Terefe T. 2017. Effect of Nitrogen Fertilizer and Harvesting Days on Yield and Quality of Rhodes Grass (Chloris gayana) Under Irrigation at Gewane, North-eastern, Ethiopia. MSc Thesis Haromaya University, Ethiopia. 80P.
Tothill J; Jone M; Hargreaves N. 1978. BOTANAZ: A Field and Computing package for assessment of plant biomass and botanical composition, Ecology and Management of World Savannas. 399p.
Ulfina G; Habtamu A; Jiregna D; Chala M. 2013. Utilization of brewer’s waste as replacement for maize in the ration of calves; Research WebPub. 1(1):8-11.
Van soest PJ; Robertson HB; Lewis BA 1991. Method of dietary fiber and non-starch polysaccharides in relation to animal material. J. Dairy sci. 74:3583-3587.
Yadessa E; Ebro A; Fita L; Asefa G. 2016. Livestock feed production and feed balance in Meta Robi District, West Shewa Zone, and Oromo Regional State, Ethiopia, Academic Research Journal of Agricultural Science and Research. 4(2):45-54.
Zewdu T; Abate A; Melaku S. 2010. Botanical composition, yield and nutritional quality of grassland in relation to stages of harvesting and fertilizer application in the highlands of Ethiopia. Afr. J. Range Forage Sci.27 (3): 117-124.