Research Areas

FORAGE RESEARCH PROJECT

SCOPE AND PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT

The contribution of the Ethiopian livestock sub-sector to both the household and national economy is quite immense even though animal productivity remains one of the lowest in the region. Feed scarcity in both qualitative and quantitative dimensions is one of the major impediments to livestock production in most farming systems of the country. Despite series of attempts in introduction, evaluation and selection of cultivated forage and pasture crops conducted by the national agricultural research systems during the last four to five decades, adequate numbers of varieties and production package targeting various agro-ecologies and production systems are not yet fully developed. Moreover, integrating the released varieties into the production system also requires attention from perspectives of the dynamism in production system and wider use of improved forage and pasture crops. Thus, agro-ecology and production system of specific varieties and production packages need to be developed to the satisfaction of the users in terms of varietal development focusing on high potential areas (rainfall and soil fertility) and specific niches (problematic soils, irrigation, etc.).

Forage research as a national program was formally started with the establishment of Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) in the mid-1960s. Generally, forage research efforts over the last four to five decades have been focused on germplasm introduction/collection, evaluation and selection of promising species for the different agro-ecologies, forage agronomic studies, micro-seed multiplication, on-farm demonstrations and promotions to users. Moreover, various forage development schemes have been launched as a component of different livestock/dairy development projects in the country. A wide range of tropical and temperate pasture and fodder species have been introduced from different parts of the world for evaluation and selection of suitable species/cultivars for the highly diverse agro-ecological conditions of the country. The various annual and perennial fodder species introduced and/or collected from different sources were tested in areas ranging in altitude from 600 – 3000 m.a.s.l. More than 10 promising forage legume species have been recommended for each of the highland, mid-altitude and lowland agro-ecologies. Despite the absence of formal variety release mechanism in the past, 4 varieties of forage species which were informally promoted and fairly accepted by the different users were registered in the crop variety register book of MoA. Official variety release procedures and guidelines for forage crops have been established and implemented since 2009 in the country. Between 2009 and 2016, about 19 varieties of different forage legume have been released by NARS. So far, a total of 23 forage species/varieties have been officially registered in the crop variety register book of MoA. It has been perceived that the number of officially registered varieties is still few relative to the number of forage legume species recommended for different agro-ecologies and production systems in the country.

In the interest of offering baskets of technological options and also from perspectives of climate change, there is dare interest to bring on board research focusing on indigenous grasses, legumes, browse trees and development of cultivars suitable for irrigation. Forage seed shortage is also a critical problem for production of different forage crops under different agro-ecologies and production systems. So forage seed multiplication and development of seed production packages are very important to mitigate the problem. Additionally, there is a need to generate information and technology addressing productivity improvement and utilization on natural pasture. The generated forage and pasture production technologies are not well popularized by the farming communities. Thus, on-farm evaluation, demonstration and pre-scaling up of improved forage and pasture crops and forage seed production technologies in different agro-ecologies and production systems are highly important to disseminate the generated technologies in the country. Therefore, the overall purpose of this project is to develop full-fledged technologies and uptake strategies that help to address livestock feed and forage seed shortage across different agro-ecologies and farming systems of the country.

 

RESEARCH THEMATIC AREAS

1.    Development of improved forage crops and production packages suitable for high potential areas under different agro-ecologies and production systems

 

Priority research areas

§  Varietal development [Preliminary variety trial (PVT), advanced variety trial (AVT), national variety trial (NVT), verification variety trial (VVT)] of improved forage crops under rainfed and irrigation conditions

§  Evaluation of different forage crops under different agronomic practices (fertilizer level, seeding rate, spacing, harvesting stage, conservation. etc.)

§  performance evaluation of improved forage crops under irrigation condition

§  Plant protection (weed control, pest and disease, etc.)

§  Socioeconomics

General Objectives

§  To develop improved forage crops with production packages suitable for high potential areas in different agro-ecologies and production systems.

§  To evaluate the performance of improved forage crops under different management conditions and agronomic practices in high potential areas.

Expected outputs

§  Improved forage crops targeting for high potential areas identified and developed for different agro-ecologies and production systems.

§  Performance of improved forage crops under different management conditions and agronomic practices is well known in high potential areas.

2.    Integration of selected improved forage crops into the farming systems of various agro-ecological zones and production systems

Priority research areas:

§  Varietal development [Preliminary variety trial (PVT), advanced variety trial (AVT), national variety trial (NVT), verification variety trial (VVT)] of improved forage crops under rainfed and irrigation conditions

§  Evaluation of different forage crops under different agronomic practices (fertilizer level, seeding rate, spacing, harvesting stage, conservation. etc.)

§  performance evaluation of improved forage crops under irrigation condition

§  Plant protection (weed control, pest and disease, etc.)

§  Socioeconomics

 

General objectives:

§  To develop appropriate forage and pasture crops integration strategies into the existing farming systems for different agro-ecologies and farming systems.

§  To evaluate the performance of integrated forage crops under different management conditions and agronomic practices in different agro-ecologies and production systems.

Expected outputs

§  Appropriate forage and pasture crops integration strategies into the existing farming systems developed for different agro-ecologies and farming systems.

§  Performance of integrated forage crops under different management conditions and agronomic practices is well known in different agro-ecologies and production systems.

3.    Improving natural pasture production, management and utilization techniques in various farming systems and agro-ecologies

Priority research areas

§  Evaluation of natural pasture under different agronomic practices (fertilizer level, over-sowing, harvesting stage, conservation, storage method utilization, etc.).

§  Assessment on biomass yield, nutritional qualities and botanical composition of natural pasture under different agro-ecologies and production systems.

§  Assessment of natural pasture productivity and quality on waterlogged areas.

General objectives

§  To identify and develop appropriate management options that can improve the productivity and quality of natural pasture.

§  To evaluate and assess the productivity and quality of natural pasture under different agro-ecologies and production systems.

Expected outputs

§  Management practices to improve the productivity and quality of natural pasture developed.

§  Productivity and quality of natural pasture under different agro-ecologies and production systems assessed and evaluated.

 

4.    Forage seed multiplication and development of seed production packages suitable for different agro-ecologies and production systems

Priority research areas:

§  Development of forage seed production packages under different agro-ecologies and production systems.

§  Evaluation of forage seed production under different agronomic practices (fertilizer level, seeding rate, spacing, harvesting stage, conservation, etc.).

§  Performance evaluation of forage seed production under irrigation condition.

§  Plant protection (Weed control, pest and disease, etc.).

§  Socioeconomics.

§  Micro-seed multiplication of different forage crops under different agro-ecologies and production systems.

General objectives

§  To develop forage seed production packages suitable for different agro-ecologies and production systems.

§  To evaluate the performance of seed production of different forage crops under different management conditions and agronomic practices.

Expected outputs

§  Seed production packages for selected forage crops developed under different agro-ecologies and production systems.

§  Performance of forage seed production under different management conditions and agronomic practices is well known.

5.    On-farm evaluation, demonstration and pre-scaling up of improved forage and pasture crops technologies in different agro-ecologies and production systems

Priority research areas

§  On-farm evaluation and demonstration of different forage crops under different agronomic practices (fertilizer level, seeding rate, spacing, harvesting stage, conservation, etc.).

§  Pre-scaling up of different forage crops

§  On-farm evaluation of forage crops under irrigation condition.

§  On-farm plant protection (weed control, pest and disease, etc.).

§  Socioeconomics

§  On-farm selected forage seed multiplication

General objective

§  To generate information on on-farm performance of selected forage crops and farmers’ attitudes using pre-extension demonstration and pre-scaling up activities.

Expected output

§  Information on on-farm performance of selected forage crops and farmers’ attitudes generated from pre-extension demonstration and pre-scaling up activities.

FORAGE PRODUCTIVITY OF RELEASED VARIETIES

Yield potential of improved grasses usually vary from 8.0 to 15.0 ton DM per ha per annum with a mean of about 13.0 ton/ha. Yield of herbaceous legumes also varies from 6.0 to 10.0 ton DM/ha with a mean of 8.0 ton DM/ha. Productivity of tree legumes also ranges from 9.0 to 13.0 ton DM/ha with a mean of about 10.5 ton DM/ha. In general, the overall average productivity of the improved fodder crops per unit area has been found to exceed the productivities of seasonally rested and continuously grazed natural pastures by about 3 fold and 10 fold, respectively. Besides their productivity, most of the improved forage crops are also nutritionally superior to that of natural pasture and crop residues.

TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATION

The generated and recommended forage and pasture crops technologies have not been well popularized by the farming communities. Thus, on-farm evaluation, demonstration and pre-scaling up of improved forage and pasture crops and forage seed production technologies in different agro-ecologies and production systems using different integration methods are highly important to disseminate the generated technologies in the country. Theoretical and practical trainings were given for different stakeholders in the country to create an awareness on forage production, utilization and conservation. The outreach program must focus towards bridging the lowest adoption rate and enhance a dynamic innovation systems to realize anticipated impacts at farm level. Special attention shall be given to optimize the benefits of cultivated forages either via intermediate product or as a final commodity through direct sale in the regional and global markets. The outreach program shall be sharpened by integrated application of value chain approach and innovation system perspectives.

 

Theoretical training

Practical training

ANIMAL NUTRITION RESEARCH PROJECT

Four decades ago the animal nutrition research section/program established together with the indigenous dairy cattle breeds’ improvement program, using different blood level of exotic breeds emphasizing the following objectives:

§  Generation of different options of technologies and/or information’s adaptable for different agro-ecological niches of the country Ethiopia using available feed resources

o   It is studying the feeds and feeding practices in the country, particularly emphasizing on optimization of uses of available feed resources.

o   Currently is in a stage of developing feeding technologies and generating information for dairy cattle feeding system based on the use of natural pasture, crop residues, agro-industrial by-products, and released crop varies.

§  Work bilaterally with various agricultural Universities and Colleges, Technical and Vocational schools, as well as major stake holders (Government Offices: Federal and/or Regional, investors dealt in the agricultural sector). This include technical supporting and strengthening their capacity.

o   Experience sharing and offering training to professionals at different level (researchers at various levels, lecturers from universities and colleges, laboratory technicians).

o   Delivering practice-oriented training at Holeta Research Center level and at field level on areas of technologies and findings of the animal nutrition efforts to agricultural experts, development agents, and farmers in all possible occasions.

§  Sharing of experiences with regional, federal, and international research institutes. Similarly participate on research planning forums for mutual developmental progresses.

 

 

RESEARCH OUTCOMES

In the area of feed resource improvement strategically endeavor, supplementation of crop residues, pasture grazing and hay with different available supplementary feed resources, such as low fiber grasses and legumes, agro-industrial byproducts, enabled milk producing dairy cattle herders to obtain 10 liters of milk per cow per milking in urban and peri-urban area.

FUTURE RESEARCH PLANS

§  With regard to tackling climate change issues, generate technologies by manipulating the feed and feeding practice through reduction of green gas emissions to properly exploit the untapped animal resource.

§  Explore the untapped research areas for characterization of feed resources in the country: fatty acid and amino acid profiles of feed mineral.

§  Generate more optional technologies and information for the use and utilization of basic and supplemental feed resources and their combinations for various animal use purpose.

§  Provide technical backups for emerging feed industries.

§  Contribute to the establishment of country-level policy and institutionalization to develop and implement feed quality monitoring and evaluation system.

§  Provide technical supports for high-grade, exotic blood dairy cattle herders in urban and peri-urban areas, and technical advisory to milk producers wherever needed.

Ensiling

 

Packing

 

Getting it ready for feeding

Multi Nutrient Block Preparation

 

MNB ingredients

 

MNB molding

 

Getting the MNMB ready for animal feeding

 

Animal with basal diet and MNB