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Characteristics of Napiergrass Taishiu No.1~ Taishiu No. 8

Livestock Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan
Tzu-Rung Li (Associate Researcher)
Tel:886- 6-591-1211 ext. 2702
Email:trli@tlri.gov.tw

July 13, 2022


        Napiergrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach) is native to South Africa. It is a perennial grass variety of the Poaceae family and one of the main fodder crops in Taiwan. It is a preferred fodder because of its high biomass production, withstands repeated cutting/harvesting, and exhibits rapid regeneration and palatability to cattle in its leafy stage. It has the characteristics of cutting propagation, erect and clustered plants, strong regeneration ability, high yield, few diseases, and few pests during the cultivation process. It is harvested every 8 weeks as fresh feed or as silage is best for feeding animals. Napiergrass was introduced to Taiwan from the Philippines in 1961. After years of breeding and cultivation research by the Livestock Research Institute has bred eight varieties with different characteristics. In addition to feeding animals, some of the 8 varieties can be used as food ingredients, functional ingredient extraction, field dressings, papermaking materials, or raw materials for bio-alcohol.

        Tzu-Rung Li, the Associate Researcher of the Division of Forage crop of the Livestock Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, is the primary member responsible for the breeding of Napiergrass, cultivation management research, and promotion.

        Napiergrass Taishiu No. 1: In the early development of animal husbandry, when there were few animals, the variety of tall and hairy Napiergrass was introduced. Thus, when harvesting manually, the fallen hairs often caused physical discomfort to workers. Taishiu No.1 is F1 of pearl millet (P. americanum) and introduced Napiergrass A146 in 1991. Its leaves are smooth and hairless, the plant is of medium height (120-150 cm), and the internodes are slightly shorter. It has multiple leaves, and the flowering is early. It is an intergeneric hybrid, so it is an intergeneric hybrid. It is incapable of producing seeds, and propagated by stem seedlings. The content of crude protein (CP) is 12.8 %, the content of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent fiber (ADF) is 61.8 % and 35.0 %, respectively, and the fresh grass yield is 163.1 mt/ha /year.

        Napiergrass Taishiu No. 2: With the vigorous development of animal husbandry, the demand for fodder crops has increased, and the Napiergrass harvester was also developed successfully. With the help of machinery harvesting, the Taishiu No. 2 was named in 1996. It bred from the F1 hybrid of the introduced species of A146 and A149. It is characterized by few hairy leaves, tall plants ( > 200 cm), and high yield. It has been the primary cultivar since 1996, accounting for about 85% of the cultivated area of Napiergrass in Taiwan. The content of crude protein is 9.2%, the content of ADF and NDF is 63.8% and 37.9%, respectively, and the fresh grass yield is about 275 mt /ha year.

        Napiergrass Taishiu No. 3: Taishiu No. 3 was derived from the open-pollinated descendants of 'Mott', the plant type is upright and dwarf (80-100 cm), and the stem internodes are very short. It is not accessible to lodging. There are more leaves and fewer stems, and with excellent fiber quality. It ages slowly and blooms later (December). The content of crude protein 13.1 %, the content of NDF and ADF is 57.3 % and 30.9 %, respectively, and the fresh grass yield is 228 mt/ha/year. In addition to ruminants, it also can be used to feed monogastric animals, such as pigs, chickens, and geese.

        Napiergrass Taishiu No. 4: Napiergrass Taishiu No. 4 was named in 2010 and is a variety for both animal husbandry and biomass energy development. It is tall with a thick stem and less hairy leaf. The content of crude protein is 11.6%, the content of NDF and ADF is 66.0 % and 38.5 %, respectively, and the fresh grass yield is 300 mt/ha/year. Due to the high fiber content, the juice can be extracted and fermented to produce bioenergy, while the residue can be compressed into straw bricks for use as fuel.

        Napiergrass Taishiu No. 5: Napiergrass Taishiu No. 5 was named in 2011 and is the F1 hybrid of Taishiu No. 2 and the native wild species of purple Napiergrass. It is a tall plant type and both its stems and leaves are dark red. The content of crude protein is 9.2 %, the content of NDF and ADF is 72.9 % and 46.4 %, respectively, and the fresh grass yield is about 170 mt/ha/year. Its stems and leaves contain anthocyanins and polyphenols, which have the ability to scavenge free radicals. The analysis results show that its extract can delay the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein, and the delay time is about three times. The Livestock Research Institute has cooperated with many units to develop beverages, tea bags, pasture powder, jelly, cakes, biscuits, ham, and other foods and handicraft straws containing Npaiergrass anthocyanins, which have a wide range of applications.

        Napiergrass Taishiu No.6: Taishiu No. 6 is an F1 hybrid of pearl millet and the introduced species (A146). It is a very dwarf plant (< 50 cm), with more than 50 tillers per plant. It has soft and slender leaves, and short or no stems. The stems grow longer and bloom in the fall. The proportion of leaves is high, the content of crude protein reaches 10-12 %, and the content of NDF and ADF is 60.7 % and 31.8 %, respectively. The fresh grass yield is about 130 mt/ha/year, and the hay yield is 22.9 mt/ha/year. Leaves with drying techniques retain their fresh green color and aroma, making them suitable for small herbivorous companion animals.

        Napiergrass Taishiu No. 7: Taishiu No. 7 is a line selected from the natural pollination descendants of ‘Mott’. The plant is of medium height (140-160 cm), not prone to lodging. It has more tillers, more leaves, and less stems. The content of crude protein reaches 10.2%, the content of NDF and ADF is 67.0% and 37.1%, respectively. The fresh grass yield is about 240 mt/ha/year.

        Napiergrass Taishiu No. 8: Taishiu No. 8 is the F1 hybrid from Taishiu No. 3 and Taishiu No. 2. The plant is of medium height (140-160 cm), not prone to lodging. It has many tillers, short internodes, and broad leaves. The content of crude protein is 12.0%, the content of NDF and ADF is 59.3% and 33.5%, respectively, and the fresh grass yield is about 268 mt/ha/year. It can be used as a good source of fodder for lactating sheep. After supplementing a small amount of corn meal to improve dietary energy, its feeding value is comparable to that of corn silage.

        The cultivation and management of Npiergrass are simple, and most of them are green varieties. In addition to being a source of fodder for economic animals or companion animals, the stems and leaves of the red variety Napiergrass Taishiu No. 5 are rich in functional components, such as anthocyanins and polyphenols, and have the ability to scavenge free radicals. The test results show that its extract can delay the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein, and the delay time is about three times that of Taishiu No. 2. It is effective in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, even improving liver function. It may be developed as a raw material for human nutritious food or as an animal feed additive to increase animal welfare.

        In response to climate change, we have continued the research in Napiergrass breeding, such as improving its tolerance to flooding, salinity, drought, etc. Compared with other crops, Napiergrass has high environmental tolerance and its cultivation is laborsaving. It can even be irrigated with livestock wastewater. Moreover, it can save 50% of chemical fertilizer application, and increase the yield of pasture by 20%. Therefore, it can facilitate the recycling of livestock, and fulfill the function of carbon fixation.


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