Determinants of ruminant nutritional quality of pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.] stover. I. Effects of management alternatives on stover quality and productivity uri icon

abstract

  • The paper investigates management and cultivar type effects on pearl millet stover yield and fodder quality. Sixteen pearl millet cultivars available to farmers in India were selected to represent three cultivar types: (1) traditional landrace germplasm from the arid/semi-arid millet production zones, (2) improved dual-purpose (grain and stover) open-pollinated varieties incorporating differing amounts of traditional landrace germplasm and (3) commercial, grain-type F I hybrids, bred for use in the arid/semi-arid zone. The cultivars were grown for 2 years (2000 and 2001) at high fertility (HF: 65 kg N ha(-1) and 18 kg P ha(-1)) and low fertility (LF: 21 kg N ha(-1) and 9 kg P ha(-1)). Within each fertility level high (HP) and low (LP) plant population densities were established by varying sowing rate and then thinning to the target populations (HP: 11 plants m(-2) and LP: 5 plants m(-2)). Stover fodder quality traits (nitrogen concentration, sugar content, in vitro digestibility and metabolizable energy content) were analyzed using a combination of conventional laboratory analysis and near infrared spectroscopy. In general, fertility level and cultivar type had strong effects on grain and stover yields, and on a range of stover nutritional quality traits, but with significant year interactions. In contrast, the effect of population density on these variables was largely insignificant. Higher fertilizer application significantly increased grain and stover yields and stover nitrogen concentration, in vitro digestibility and metabolizable energy content. As a result, fertilization resulted in significant increases in the yields of both digestible and metabolizable stover. Landrace cultivars as a group produced higher quality fodder than modern hybrids, but at a significant cost in grain yield. Dual-purpose, open-pollinated cultivars were generally intermediate between the landraces and hybrids, in terms of both stover quality and grain yield, but produced the highest yields of both digestible and metabolizable stover. The paper discusses the implications of these findings for Indian pearl millet farmers with various resource levels and farming objectives. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2007
  • 2007
  • 2007