Full Length Research Paper
Soil salinity is a growing problem on many irrigated parts of arid and semi-arid areas of Ethiopia. Utilization of improved salt-tolerant forage grasses help farmers to maximize production and reclaim saline soil. A study was conducted at Werer Agricultural Research Center (WARC) from 2012 to 2014 to evaluate performance of four forage grass species of salinity tolerance, ameliorative effect and biomass production. The result showed that dry matter yield obtained under saline soil was higher in Cinchrus ciliaris (37 ton/ha/year) followed by Chloris gayana (36 ton/ha/year), while the smallest was recorded from Sorghum sudanese (27 ton/ha/year). After exposing for salt stress, C. gayana and C. ciliaris dry matter production relative to normal soil only decrease by 15 and 9%, respectively. While, Panicum antidotale and S. sudanese dry matter reduction was Severe, by 53 and 45%, respectively. Reduction in electrical conductivity (ECe) varied between 52.60 and 74.81% in the upper 0 to 30 cm soil layer and 54.76 to 79.63% in the lower 30 to 60 cm. The highest reduction percentage of salinity under surface (74.81%) and sub-surface (79.63%) layer soil occurred under C. gayana grass. C. ciliaris, P. antidotale and S. sudanese cause the reduction at surface soil layer ECe by 70.55, 66.42 and 54.76%, respectively. The same trend was observed for reduction of ESP and pHe as a result of growing of grass species. Generally, C. gayana and C. ciliaris have excellent potential for its high salinity stress tolerance, biomass production and ameliorative effect on soil properties.
Key words: Salinity, amelioration, forage grasses, biomass yield.
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