Tropical forage crops

Devising novel strategies for improving nutritional status and sustainability of tropical forage crop systems.

This research is a collaborative programme between the University of Hertfordshire and the Faculty of Agriculture, Khon Kaen University, N.E. Thailand on a range of tropical forage crops.

There are 2 main themes in this work:

  1. To improve the nutritional status of a widely used tropical fodder, Sorghum
  2. To produce more sustainable forages using grass-legume mixtures and organic production systems

Sorghum has traditionally been fed fresh on a cut and carry basis once the crop is semi-mature or mature.

We have investigated conserving Sorghum as silage for feeding in the dry season. We have also researched improving its nutritional status by adding legumes and Cassava to Sorghum silage to increase both protein-nitrogen and carbohydrate, respectively.

Perennial forage crops have not traditionally had a place in Thai farming systems so we have been researching this approach using a number of tropical grasses and legumes grown together.

We have monitored growth, productivity and persistence over 3 growing seasons in the field. We found an issue with drought tolerance in the dry season, for some legumes in peculiar.

We are currently conducting grazing trials with the most promising species and also cut and carry feeding using indigenous Thai native cattle. We are also monitoring the effects of grazing on the forage plants in the field.

Key staff

  • Professor David Higgs BSc PhD (UH)
  • Associate Professor Suradej Pholsen BSc MSc PhD (KKU)
  • Associate Professor Kritapon Sommart BSc MSc PhD (KKU)
  • PhD student: C. Yootasanong BSc MSc

Current research project

TROFREC (Tropical Feed Resources Research and Development Center): To investigate effects of grazing system on Thai-esaan native beef cattle performance, conjugated linoleic acid composition and botanical changes in organic grassland.