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Grassland condition in chilalo Awaraja, Arsi Administrative,Region, Ethiopia-An Ecological Study.  [1979]

Alemayehu Mengistu(Pasture and forage expert) Ethiopian Journal of Agricultural Sciences [Corporate Author]

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This study present the grassland condition in Chilalo Awraja. In studying this, plant materials have been collected from the different areas and have been identified. The occurrence of different plant groups and other measured as percentage covering degree of the area are listed. The results from this study indicate that grasslands at high and medium altitudes are in condition withy high percentage of coarse and unpalatable grasses such as pennisetum schimperi and Setaria atrata. At low altitude the grasslands are more or less destroyed by over grazing leaving a high percentage bare soil and a flora of mainly low productive and unpalatable grasses such of bare soil and a flora of mainly low productive and unpalatable grasses such as Aristida Keniensis and Setaria acromelaena. On the other hand the study shows the occurrence of many valuable grasses and legumes. These are Chloris gayana and Panicum coloratum; and of the legumes Glycine wightii, Trifolium semipilosum and Trifolium burchellianum. In an effort to study the grassland condition in Chilalo Awraja a detailed grassland investigation was made. The work was carried out in different areas of tfhe Chilalo Awraja in the Arsi Administrative Region, Ethiopia. In the lowlands and highlands of Chilalo Awaraja, the majority of animals are kept pastoralists and by peasants in mixed farms. The cattle are fed mainly by grazing on natural grasslands. There is no system of integrated farmi
ng. Virtually no fodder is grown and during the dry season the animal feed on crop residues and on what they can forage. The livestock number is increasing; population estimates are 626,600 cattle and 398,100 sheep and goats. It is usual for each owner to aim at keeping as many animals as possible, irrespective of the quality of the animals or the availability of pasture. This is partly because livestock are regarded as wealth, and a man's social position and prestige depend on the number of stock he has rather than on money or other possessions,. Natural grasslands in this area are traditionally used as rough grazing for livestock. The lands under rest from arable cropping are used for grazing and hay making. The pattern of utilization for grazing is basically similar in all areas. Small or large herds of livestock are ranged extensively by day, and returned at night to a pen near homestead or encampment, as security against predators and thieves. The animals are tended by the owner or his children, or by hired herdsmen. It is often late in the day before the cattle are taken out for grazing, particularly now when more children are attending school and when farmers have farm work to perform. Long distances have sometimes to be traveled for water. Grazing takes place wherever edible herbage is available. The main grazing areas are normally away from cultivated land to reduce the possibility of damage to crops by livestock, and include such places as hilltops, swamps and forest margins, stony or infertile land and road sides. Fallow land and other areas near to arable plots are grazed in times of shortage or if the animals are tethered. During the dry season, when rainfall is low and evaporation high, the production and nutritive value of pastures gradually fall to a minimum. Regularly grazing land becomes progressively overgrazed, and herdsmen are forced to roam increasingly greater distances in search of grazing. Stock numbers are not normally reduced in the dry season and the condition of the cattle usually deteriorates except in densely cultivated areas, where grazing is restricted and crop residues are available. If the introduction of cross-breeds is going to continue at the present rate, the amount of forage must be increased. One way would way would be by improving the grasslands. So, in order to improve the grassland by one method or another, the grass flora and the grassland condition must be investigated and studied.

From the journal

Ethiopian Journal of Agricultural Sciences