Potential of the indigenous desert grasses of the Arabian Peninsula for forage production in a water-scarce region uri icon

abstract

  • Indigenous perennial grasses are widely distributed in the Arabian Peninsula. Their survival under limited rainfall and grazing suggests a potential role as grassland species and for rehabilitation of degraded rangelands. Forage productivity, seed production and water-use efficiency (WUE) was determined over 2 years for four indigenous grasses: buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris L.), dakhna (Coelachyrum piercei Benth.), da'ay (Lasiurus scindicus Henr.) and tuman (Panicum turgidum Forssk.) together with one exotic species, rhodes grass (Chloris gayana Kunth) in the central region of the United Arab Emirates. Three irrigation treatments were used: R1 (1858-6758 m(3) ha(-1) year(-1)), R2 (929-3379 m(3) ha(-1) year(-1)) and R3 (464-1689 m(3) ha(-1) year(-1)). Buffel grass had the highest dry-matter (DM) yield under all irrigation treatments. The average DM yield of buffel grass was 14.6 and 15.1 t ha(-1) in the 2 years which was significantly higher than that for the other grasses with dakhna having the lowest DM yields. The WUE of 0.7 and 0.8 kg DM m(-3) in the 2 years for buffel grass was significantly greater than for the other grasses. Buffel grass showed the highest increase in WUE in both years when the irrigation was reduced from treatment R1 to R3. The results suggest that the desert grasses of the Arabian Peninsula, such as buffel grass, could be useful grass species in reducing the use of scarce irrigation water provided that seed production can be increased.

publication date

  • 2008
  • 2008