In Bali, Indonesia, it is common for farmers to mix crop and animal systems. In the dry regions cattle are very important, bringing in up to 43% of the total farm income. Native grasses, tree leaves, and cereal straws are used as feed, but the supply is often inadequate.
To increase the availability of animal feed in dry areas, researchers have been working on a new forage production system using three different heights or levels of vegetation: grasses and native legumes, shrubs, and fodder trees. The system has the potential to reduce erosion and promote a sustainable system for crop and animal production.
In this system, forage crops are grown on a thin strip of land around a field. This strip has a total area of 0.09 hectares and surrounds a field which is a quarter of a hectare in size. This strip of land is used to grow grass and legumes, shrubs, and fodder trees. Cattle are kept in stalls and fed only forage from the plot, unlike the traditional systems where the cattle are tethered on grass during the day. Modified versions of the system are operating in India and southeast Asia. Farmers adapt the system by choosing appropriate forage species and deciding on the amount of land to be used for fodder production.
The researchers found that the three level system has the potential to:
- Produce more forage than other systems.
- Increase the number of animals that can be kept on a farm.
- Increase farmers’ incomes from animal production.
- Reduce soil erosion and increase soil fertility.
- Provide up to 64% of a household’s firewood.
Other potential benefits of the system are increased poultry and snail production, the possibility of honey production, and protection of the local ecosystem.
Specific grass and tree species were found to be particularly suited to the semi arid regions of Indonesia. They includeStylosanthes, Acacia, Gliricidia, andLeucaena(trees and shrubs)Cenchrus, Panicum, Centrosema, Verano, andUrochia(grasses and legumes). Through the introduction of goats and more complete use of the available feeds, the researchers want to improve further the economic benefits of the system.
This article was published with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada. It is adapted from 101 Technologies from the south for the south, 1992, IDRC, P.O. Box 8500, Ottawa, Canada, K1G 3H9.
Dr. I.M. Nitis, Department of Nutrition and Tropical Forage Science, Udayana University, Jalan Jendral Sudirman, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia