Water Stress Tolerance of Six Rangeland Grasses in the Kenyan Semi-arid Rangelands
American Journal of Agriculture and Forestry
Volume 3, Issue 5, September 2015, Pages: 222-229
Received: Sep. 10, 2015; Accepted: Sep. 30, 2015; Published: Nov. 14, 2015
Views 3592      Downloads 80
Koech Oscar Kipchirchir, Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
Kinuthia Robinson Ngugi, Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
Mureithi Stephen Mwangi, Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
Karuku George Njomo, Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
Wanjogu Raphael, National Irrigation Board, Mwea Irrigation Agricultural Development (MIAD) Centre, WANGURU, Kenya
Article Tools
Follow on us
This study evaluated six grass species in terms of water stress responses by visual quality and living ground cover attributes and the recovery responses post water stress grown at 80, 50, 30% field capacity soil moisture contents. The grass species evaluated were Chloris roxburghiana, Eragrostis superba, Enteropogon macrostachyus, Cenchrus ciliaris, Chloris gayana, and Sorghum sudanense. The grasses demonstrated varied levels of water stress tolerance as evaluated by quality ratings based on colour (greenness) and uniformity of colour, leaf firing, living matter and wilting signs. All species declined in visual quality rating with prolonged water stress treatment with exception of Sorghum sudanense and Cenchrus ciliaris that had better quality ratings of six after 42 days water stress period. Sorghum sudanense, Chloris gayana and Cenchrus ciliaris had accelerated recovery in quality, attaining a visual rating of eight at 21 days of water stress period. The three soil moisture content treatments had higher quality ratings than rainfed conditions which represented water deficit. Sorghum sudanense and Chloris gayana had higher quality ratings and water use efficiency under rainfed compared to the other species. All the grasses showed higher living ground cover greater than 40% at recovery period of 28 days, when irrigation was resumed at the prescribed level, and attained living cover of over 60% by day 42. Sorghum sudanense, Chloris gayana and Cenchrus ciliaris were able to withstand water stress longer and had also a quick recovery among the six grasses. These three species are recommended for pasture establishment in semi-arid lands where water supply uncertainties exist, owing to their high tolerance to water stress.
Drought Tolerance, Water Stress Tolerance, Range Grasses, Pasture Irrigation, Kenya
To cite this article
Koech Oscar Kipchirchir, Kinuthia Robinson Ngugi, Mureithi Stephen Mwangi, Karuku George Njomo, Wanjogu Raphael, Water Stress Tolerance of Six Rangeland Grasses in the Kenyan Semi-arid Rangelands, American Journal of Agriculture and Forestry. Vol. 3, No. 5, 2015, pp. 222-229. doi: 10.11648/j.ajaf.20150305.18
Bhattarai, S. P., Fox, J., and Gyasi-Agyei, Y. (2008). Enhancing buffel grass seed germination by acid treatment for rapid vegetation establishment on railway batters. Journal of Arid Environments, 72(3), 255-262.
Chai, Q., Jin, F., Merewitz, E., and Huang, B. (2010). Growth and physiological traits associated with drought survival and post-drought recovery in perennial turf grass species. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 135(2), 125-133.
Chen, M., Chen, B., and Marschner, P. (2008). Plant growth and soil microbial community structure of legumes and grasses grown in monoculture or mixture. Journal of Environmental Sciences, 20(10), 1231-1237.
Croser, J. S., Clarke, H. J., Siddique, K. H. M., and Khan, T. N. (2003). Low-temperature stress: implications for chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) improvement. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 22(2), 185-219.
Daehler, C. C. and Goergen, E. M. (2005). Experimental restoration of an indigenous Hawaiian grassland after invasion by buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris). Restoration Ecology, 13(2), 380-389.
Davis, R., Gichere, S., Mogaka, H., and Hirji, R. (2006). Climate variability and water resource degradation in Kenya: improving water resources development and management. Washington, DC: World Bank.
De la Barrera, E. (2008). Recent invasion of buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) of a natural protected area from the southern Sonoran Desert. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad, 79(2), 385-392.
Dodd, M. B., and Orr, S. J. (1995). Seasonal growth, phosphate response, and drought tolerance of 11 perennial legume species grown in a hill country soil. New Zealand journal of agricultural research, 38(1), 7-20.
Doss, C., McPeak, J., and Barrett, C. B. (2008). Interpersonal, intertemporal and spatial variation in risk perceptions: Evidence from East Africa. World Development, 36(8), 1453-1468.
Eneji, A. E., Inanaga, S., Muranaka, S., Li, J., Hattori, T., An, P., and Tsuji, W. (2008). Growth and nutrient use in four grasses under drought stress as mediated by silicon fertilizers. Journal of Plant Nutrition, 31(2), 355-365.
Evans, R.A. and Love, R.M. (1957). The step-point method of sampling- A practical tool in range research. Journal of Range Management 10:208-212.
Falkenmark, M. (2007). Shift in thinking to address the 21st Century hunger gap, moving focus from blue to green water management. Water Resource Management, 21(1): 3–18.
Farooq, M., Wahid, A., Kobayashi, N., Fujita, D., and Basra, S. M. A. (2009). Plant drought stress: effects, mechanisms and management. In Sustainable Agriculture (pp. 153-188). Springer Netherlands.
Gibbens, R. P., and Lenz, J. M. (2001). Root systems of some Chihuahuan Desert plants. Journal of Arid Environments, 49(2), 221-263.
Guenni, O., Marín, D., and Baruch, Z. (2002). Responses to drought of five Brachiaria species. I. Biomass production, leaf growth, root distribution, water use and forage quality. Plant and soil, 243(2), 229-241.
Guevara, J. C., Grünwaldt, E. G., Estevez, O. R., Bisigato, A. J., Blanco, L. J., Biurrun, F. N., and Passera, C. B. (2009). Range and livestock production in the Monte Desert, Argentina. Journal of Arid Environments, 73(2), 228-237.
Hanson, R. L. (1988). Evapotranspiration and droughts. Paulson, RW, Chase, EB, Roberts, RS, and Moody, DW, Compilers, National Water Summary, 99-104.
Hu, L., Wang, Z., and Huang, B. (2010). Diffusion limitations and metabolic factors associated with inhibition and recovery of photosynthesis from drought stress in a C3 perennial grass species. Physiologia plantarum, 139(1), 93-106.
Ifejika S., C., Kiteme, B., and Wiesmann, U. (2008). Droughts and famines: the underlying factors and the causal links among agro-pastoral households in semi-arid Makueni District, Kenya. Global Environmental Change, 18(1), 220-233.
Kabubo-Mariara, J. (2008). Climate change adaptation and livestock activity choices in Kenya: An economic analysis. In Natural Resources Forum, 32(2): 131-141. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Kemp, D. R., and Culvenor, R. A. (1994). Improving the grazing and drought tolerance of temperate perennial grasses. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 37(3), 365-378.
Kimani, K., and Pickard, J. (1998). Recent trends and implications of group ranch sub-division and fragmentation in Kajiado District, Kenya. Geographical Journal, 202-213.
Kirwa, E. C., Mnene, W. N., Kubasu, D., Kimitei, R. K., Kidake, B., and Manyeki, J. K. (2010). Assessing the performance of established range grass species in southern Kenya rangelands. In Proceedings of the 12th KARI Biennial Scientific Conference. 8th–12th November, Nairobi, Kenya (pp. 871-876).
Kumar, P., Kumar, S., Sharma, K. D., Choudhary, A., and Gehlot, K. (2004). Lignite mine spoil characterization and approaches for its rehabilitation. Arid Land Research and Management, 19(1), 47-60.
Larcher, W. (2003). Physiological plant ecology: ecophysiology and stress physiology of functional groups. Springer. http://tinyurl.com/qh3tdph. Accessed 6th May 2013.
Lazarides, M., Cowley, K., and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO Handbook of Australian Weeds. CSIRO publishing.
Ludlow, M. M. (1980). Stress physiology of tropical pasture plants. Tropical grasslands, 14(3), 136-145.
Maingi, J. K., and Marsh, S. E. (2002). Quantifying hydrologic impacts following dam construction along the Tana River, Kenya. Journal of Arid Environments, 50(1), 53-79.
Malinowski, D. P., Zuo, H., Kramp, B. A., Muir, J. P., & Pinchak, W. E. (2005). Obligatory summer-dormant cool-season perennial grasses for semiarid environments of the southern Great Plains. Agronomy journal, 97(1), 147-154.
Marshall, V. M., Lewis, M. M., and Ostendorf, B. (2012). Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) as an invader and threat to biodiversity in arid environments: A review. Journal of Arid Environments, 78, 1-12.
Mganga, K. Z., Musimba, N. K. R., Nyariki, D. M., Nyangito, M. M., and Mwang'ombe, A. W. (2013). The choice of grass species to combat desertification in semi arid Kenyan rangelands is greatly influenced by their forage value for livestock. Grass and Forage Science. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gfs.12089/full. Accessed 1st Aug 2013.
Mganga, K. Z., Musimba, N. K., Nyariki, D. M., Nyangito, M. M., Mwang’ombe, A. W., Ekaya, W. N., and Muiru, W. M. (2010). Dry matter yields and hydrological properties of three perennial grasses of a semi-arid environment in East Africa. African Journal Plant Science 4(5), 138-144.
Mnene, W. N. (2006). Strategies to increase success rates in natural pasture development through reseeding degraded rangelands of Kenya (Doctoral dissertation, Ph. D. Thesis, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya).
Morris, K.N., and Shearman, R.C. (2006). NTEP Evaluation Guidelines. National Turfgrass Evaluation Programme. Available at: http://www.ntep.org/pdf/ratings.pdf . Accessed on 6th June 2012.
Mureithi, S. M., Verdoodt, A., Gachene, C. K. K., Njoka, J. T., Wasonga, V. O., De Neve, S., Meyerhoff, E., and Van Ranst, E. (2014). Impact of enclosure management on soil properties and microbial biomass in a restored semi-arid rangeland, Kenya. Journal of Arid Land, doi: 10.1007/s40333-014-0065-x.
Nawazish, S.M., Hameed, M. and Naurin, S. (2006). Leaf anatomical adaptations of Cenchrus ciliaris L. from the Salt Range, Pakistan against drought stress. Pak. J. Bot, 38(5), 1723-1730.
Ndathi, A. J., Nyangito, M. M., Musimba, N. K., and Mitaru, B. N. (2011). Farmers’ preference and nutritive value of selected indigenous plant feed materials for cattle in drylands of south-eastern Kenya. http://www.lrrd.cipav.org.co/lrrd24/2/ndat24028.htm. Accessed on 6th June 2012).
Orindi, V. A., Nyong, A., and Herrero, M. (2007). Pastoral livelihood adaptation to drought and institutional interventions in Kenya. Human Development Report Office, Occasional Paper, 54.
Passioura, J. (2007). The drought environment: physical, biological and agricultural perspectives. Journal of experimental Botany, 58(2), 113-117.
Reed, M. S., Dougill, A. J., and Baker, T. R. (2008). Participatory indicator development: what can ecologists and local communities learn from each other. Ecological Applications, 18(5), 1253-1269.
Rünk, K., Pihkva, K., and Zobel, K. (2014). Desirable site conditions for introduction sites for a locally rare and threatened fern species< i> Asplenium septentrionale(L.) Hoffm. Journal for Nature Conservation, 22(3), 272-278.
Schenk, H. J., and Jackson, R. B. (2002a). Rooting depths, lateral root spreads and below‐ground/above‐ground allometries of plants in water limited ecosystems. Journal of Ecology, 90(3), 480-494.
Schenk, H. J., and Jackson, R. B. (2002b). The global biogeography of roots. Ecological monographs, 72(3), 311-328.
Tarawali S.A., Tarawali G., Larbi A. and Hanson J. (1995). Methods for the Evaluation of Legumes, Grasses and Fodder Trees for Use as Livestock Feed. ILRI Manual 1. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. pp. 51.
Theisen, O. M. (2012). Climate clashes? Weather variability, land pressure, and organized violence in Kenya, 1989–2004. Journal of Peace Research, 49(1), 81-96.
Tworkoski, T. J., and Glenn, D. M. (2001). Yield, shoot and root growth, and physiological responses of mature peach trees to grass competition. Hort Science, 36(7), 1214-1218.
Verdoodt, A., Mureithi, S. M., and Van Ranst, E. (2010). Impacts of management and enclosure age on recovery of the herbaceous rangeland vegetation in semi-arid Kenya. Journal of Arid Environments, 74(9), 1066-1073.
Vicente-Serrano, S. M., Beguería, S., and López-Moreno, J. I. (2010). A multiscalar drought index sensitive to global warming: the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index. Journal of Climate, 23(7), 1696-1718.
Science Publishing Group
1 Rockefeller Plaza,
10th and 11th Floors,
New York, NY 10020
Tel: (001)347-983-5186