Stapf is a semi-aquatic, palatable and good quality forage grass particularly suited to poorly drained, swampy and flooded tropical and subtropical areas. Para grass can be grazed, used in cut-and-carry systems or made into hay or silage. It can be used for erosion control on river banks and steep slopes FAO, ; Lansdown et al. Morphology Para grass is a perennial, stoloniferous grass.
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Stapf is a semi-aquatic, palatable and good quality forage grass particularly suited to poorly drained, swampy and flooded tropical and subtropical areas. Para grass can be grazed, used in cut-and-carry systems or made into hay or silage. It can be used for erosion control on river banks and steep slopes FAO, ; Lansdown et al.
Morphology Para grass is a perennial, stoloniferous grass. It has stout and long trailing runners that can grow to a length of 5 m in one season Cook et al. Erect culms are decumbent. They root from the basal nodes and may reach a height of 0. Para grass is leafy. Leaf blades are hairy, linear, up to 30 cm long and mm wide.
The inflorescence is a panicle 6 cm long holding spreading racemes cm long Cook et al. In spite of its high number of flower heads, para grass is a poor seed producer and its seeds are not very viable Lansdown et al. Utilization Para grass is a palatable species mainly used for its high quality forage. A fast growing grass, it can be grazed or used in cut-and-carry systems, either to be directly fed or to make hay or silage.
It is particularly suited to wet, poorly drained places as it can grow in water down to 1. In such "pond pastures", para grass is a valuable green reserve of forage during droughts Cook et al.
It was reported to have ethnomedicinal properties, and its leaves are occasionally used as an antiseptic in cutaneous affections Lansdown et al. In Brazil, para grass naturally hybridized with Brachiaria arrecta resulting in the hybrid "Tangola", a valuable grazing forage for milk production Queiroz et al.
Distribution Brachiaria mutica originated from Sub-Saharan flood plains and later spread southward to Central and East Africa. It was introduced as a forage grass or for erosion control into most tropical countries. It is naturally found in poorly drained, swampy or seasonally waterlogged areas, along creeks, rivers, floodplains, wetlands and drainage channels, around lakes and dams, in roadside ditches and in other damp habitats Hannan-Jones et al.
It grows from sea level up to an altitude of m FAO, Para grass is a fast growing summer season species. Its most important trait is its semi-aquatic habit. It can grow in flooded conditions: its hairy leaves and hollow stems float over water depths of 0. However, its roots do not stand continuous submersion. Para grass can grow in moist soils of humid and sub-humid areas with annual rainfall of mm, or in swampy areas of drier environments down to mm rainfall Cook et al.
It can survive short drought periods Guenni et al. It is damaged by frost but not killed. Though para grass prefers alluvial and hydromorphic soils, it does well on a wide range of soils: from sands to clays with moderate to good fertility Rao et al. Para grass is both suited to poorly drained swampy areas and well drained moist soils. Para grass does well on acidic soils pH 4,5 or containing high contents of trace elements. It has moderate tolerance to soil salinity Cook et al.
It can grow on alkaline reclaimed soils Rao et al. Para grass is a full sunlight grass but tolerates partial shading: it can grow under mature coconuts in the Philippines, but is then susceptible to weeds Cook et al. Para grass survives fires see Environmental impact below Cook et al. It responds to N and P fertilizers.
In India, a comparison between para grass and German grass Echinochloa polystachya showed that the latter provided significantly higher yields of DM 5. Pasture management Para grass is mainly sown as a permanent pasture for grazing, in wet and flooded areas.
It can be grown with other semi-aquatic grasses such as German grass Echinochloa polystachya and dal grass Hymenachne amplexicaulis but it is generally considered to do better in pure stands Cameron, ; Cook et al. Para grass does well with legumes adapted to moist conditions such as hetero Desmodium heterophyllum , puero Pueraria phaseoloides , centro Centrosema pubescens or calopo Calopogonium mucunoides.
Cultivation conditions should favour the legume so that para grass does not rapidly outcompete and suppress it FAO, In Thailand, a good balance was possible between para grass and centro planted on lateritic red earth soil.
Para grass can be sown or vegetatively propagated. However, it is difficult to establish from seeds: they are expensive, dormant, slow to germinate, and small seedlings can be killed by flooding Cameron, ; Cameron et al. For vegetative propagation, plant cuttings of a length of cm with nodes should be hand-planted or disc-harrowed to a depth of cm with at least 2 nodes buried. Cuttings should be placed at 1 m interval.
Para grass requires weeding till not fully established Cameron et al. Para grass has vigorous growth: it can spread 5 m in one season and competes vigorously with weeds. However, it is sensitive to heavy grazing.
It should not be grazed before the stand reaches cm high and should not be grazed below 20 cm so that the growing point is not damaged. It is recommended to avoid early grazings during the first year of growth as it results in the pulling out and destruction of cuttings Cameron et al. It generally takes 12 months for a stand to develop properly Cameron et al. After establishment a light to moderate grazing pressure is favourable to regrowth and forage quality, and prevents weed development.
Rotational grazing is recommended. Under too high grazing pressure, para grass becomes very open and subject to invading species Cook et al. Hay and silage The semi-aquatic habit of para grass is not suitable for mechanical harvesting. However, hay and silage can be made in places where cut-and-carry is common. Deferred feed Para grass is a valuable deferred feed in driers areas where it keeps growing on residual moist places and provides green feed for livestock FAO, However, livestock should not enter wet stands as it may damage the stand through trampling Cameron et al.
Flooding has no impact on growth, even during long periods Haddade et al. Water flow and erosion control Para grass is particularly adapted for the control of water flow and erosion of river banks Schultze-Kraft et al.
However, para grass may become an issue in ditches, headlands drains and earth tanks where it may choke water flow, increase sedimentation and cause waterlogging of neighbouring crops as this is the case for sugarcane crops in Australia Hannan-Jones et al. Sedimented conditions were also reported to smother benthic species and thus reduce the biodiversity of wetlands Hannan-Jones et al.
Fire If ungrazed in wetlands of northern Australia, para grass may become a fuel for fires that occur during the dry season. It was reported to represent a much bigger fuel load than native grasses and is thus more likely to burn every dry season Hannan-Jones et al. These fires are a threat to natural stands of Melaleuca trees Cook et al. Invasiveness As a long-lived, vegetatively propagating pioneering species of disturbed areas, para grass has potential for invasiveness.
It is reported to benefit from cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation and fire Rojas-Sandoval et al. It may have deleterious effects on native plant species such as wild rice Oryza australiensis whose seeds provide food for indigenous birds. Phytoremediation Para grass, when coupled with a complex of endophytic bacteria Acinetobacter sp.
These results are in accordance with those obtained earlier with the use of para grass to remove organic and inorganic matter from sewage effluets Ijaz et al. Para grass could be grown on chromite mine areas, having rapid massive growth in spite of high chromium Cr levels. It mainly accumulated Cr in its roots and could be used to reduce the Cr level of the soil Mohanty et al. In soils with high salinity levels, such as those of rice irrigated with wasterwater in periurban areas, para grass could help recovering good conditions for rice cultivation while responding to the increasing demand in fodder Biggs et al.
Ruminants Para grass Brachiaria mutica is widely used in the tropics for feeding ruminants, usually as green chopped forage. The nutritive value of Para grass is highly variable, due to large differences in composition.
OMD is lower by 2 percentage point in the cold season compared to the warm season Little information is available about its use outside Asia with the exception of one study in Peru Pinedo Ruiz, Because para grass is a traditional forage, feeding experiments with rabbits rarely aim to assess its nutritive value but instead tend to assess its replacement with forages such as Psophocarpus scandens or water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes Nguyen Van Thu et al.
Fresh para grass used as a sole feed is not able to support rabbit maintenance Saikia et al. For this reason it is employed together with other forages richer in protein, such as water spinach Ipomoea aquatica Nguyen Thi Kim Dong et al.
The recommended proportion of fresh para grass and concentrate varies widely between experiments, from to on DM basis, depending on the forage and concentrate characteristics. Nutritional tables.
In its native lands, Brachiaria is cultivated as a forage grass and was brought to the U. S for this purpose. In areas where para grass is not grazed on by cattle, it has become a serious weed. Upon its introduction to the U. Augustinegrass, bermudagrass, centipedegrass and many ornamental grass species.
Nikozuru Adequate soil N may also stimulate flowering and seed set. Stapf is a semi-aquatic, palatable and good quality forage mutiac particularly suited to poorly drained, swampy and flooded tropical and subtropical areas. These include broadleaf weeds and sedges, especially Cyperus aromaticus Navua sedge in Fiji and Sida spp. They root from the basal nodes and may reach a height of 0. It was also introduced into the humid, tropical parts of Australia around and has become widely naturalised in Queensland. It has moderate tolerance to soil salinity Cook et al. Para grass could be grown on chromite mine areas, having rapid massive growth in spite of high chromium Cr levels.