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Pangola grass (Digitaria eriantha)

Datasheet

Description
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Common names 

Pangola grass, common finger grass, digit grass, woolly finger grass, smuts finger grass, giant pangola grass, pongola grass [English]; digitaire, pangola [French]; pasto pangola, pangola gigante [Spanish]; gewone vingergras [Afrikaans]; pangolagras [German]

Synonyms 

Digitaria decumbens Stent, Digitaria eriantha subsp. eriantha, Digitaria eriantha subsp. pentzii (Stent) Kok, Digitaria eriantha subsp. stolonifera (Stapf) Kok, Digitaria eriantha var. stolonifera Stapf, Digitaria geniculata Stent, Digitaria glauca Stent, Digitaria pentzii Stent, Digitaria pentzii var. minor Stent, Digitaria pentzii var. stolonifera (Stapf) Henrard, Digitaria polevansii Stent, Digitaria seriata Stapf, Digitaria setivalva Stent, Digitaria smutsii Stent, Digitaria stentiana Henrard, Digitaria valida Stent, Syntherisma eriantha (Steud.) Newbold.

Digitaria umfolozi is not recognized by major taxonomic authorities, but is sometimes described as a stoloniferous species with hairy leaves, up to 70 cm tall, from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and is probably synonymous with Digitaria eriantha.

Description 

Pangola grass (Digitaria eriantha Steud) is a tropical grass widespread in many humid tropical and subtropical regions, used extensively for grazing, hay and silage. It is often considered to be one of the higher quality tropical grasses (Cook et al., 2005).

Morphology

Digitaria eriantha is a perennial grass. This taxon comprises many morphologically different types that were once (and sometimes still are) considered to be separate species. Its culms are simple or branched, 35 to 180 cm tall. The leaf blades are 5-60 cm long, 2-14 mm wide, glabrous or hairy. Digitaria eriantha is sometimes stoloniferous or tufted and rhizomatous. The stolons spread over the surface of the ground and develop roots at the nodes. The stolons and stems are hairy. The inflorescence is a digitate (single whorl) or subdigitate (2 or more whorls) panicle comprising 3-17 racemes, 5-20 cm long. Very few viable seeds are produced (Cook et al., 2005).

Utilization

Pangola grass is used extensively for pasture, hay and silage. It withstands very heavy grazing (FAO, 2009). Regular grazing (2-3 week intervals) at 10-15 cm to 30-40 cm height is necessary to maintain the quality of pangola grass (Cook et al., 2005).

Distribution 

Pangola grass is native to tropical Southern Africa and is nowadays distributed to many humid subtropical and tropical areas. Optimal growth conditions are annual rainfall ranging from 700 to 4000 mm/year, temperatures from 15.9 to 27.8°C and soil pH from 4.3 to 8.5 (Duke, 1983). It is tolerant of drought but low rainfall is the main limiting factor for production range and yield. The best yields have been recorded on full sun or well-drained moist soils. Nevertheless, good growth can be obtained on soils ranging from sands to heavy clays. It is generally considered to have low shade tolerance (Ecocrop, 2009).

Dry matter yields vary with genotype, environmental and management conditions. Yields range from about 10 to 20 t/ha and may exceed 30 t/ha under ideal conditions.

The production of pangola grass pasture is sensitive to photoperiodism. In the Caribbean, on pasture receiving more than 400 kg of N fertilizer per hectare, production of 100 kg DM/ha/day have been recorded during the long day season against 50 kg DM/ha/day during the short day season. Pangola grass pastures are also more productive during the warm season, and they can withstand high stocking density, trampling, and 30-day rotations. During the cool season, especially at higher elevations, the productivity of pangola grass is very low, and a rotation cycle of 60 days or more is recommended (Fukumoto et al., 2003).

Environmental impact 

The stoloniferous types provide good ground cover for soil conservation.

Nutritional aspects
Ruminants 

Pangola grass is one of the higher quality tropical grasses. Crude protein values range from 5 to 14%, and may exceed 15% with young regrowth and large applications of fertilizer. Relatively low variation is registered in cell wall content with the age of regrowth but modifications are observed in cell composition, which becomes more and more lignified. Like all tropical grasses, chemical and nutritive value of pangola grass vary with several factors including age of regrowth, season, fertilizer and genotype. The age of regrowth is the main factor of variation. Pangola grass has relatively high concentrations of sodium in its tissues, compared with many other tropical grasses. Large variations are reported for in vivo total tract digestibility, ranging between 40 and 70%. Large variations in voluntary dry matter consumptions are also reported between 50 and 90 g/kg W0.75 in sheep (Cook et al., 2005).

The variations of the nutritional values of pangola grass according to the age of regrowth are presented in the table below:

Archimède et al., 2000 14 days 28 days 42 days 56 days
Organic matter % DM 84 88.7 89.6 87.9
Crude protein % DM 13 7.9 7.2 5.7
NDF % DM 74 77.7 79 79
ADF % DM 38 42.9 44.2 44.1
ADL % DM 7.1 7.4 7.8 7.8
OMD % 70 66 65 63
DMI g/kg W0.75 83.1 73.8 62.7 55.9
Minson et al., 1986 - 28 days - 56 days
Crude protein % DM - 9.1 - 9.1
NDF % DM - 72.4 - 72.9
ADF % DM - 44.7 - 44.1
ADL % DM - 4.8 - 6.4
OMD % - 61.3 - 48
DMI g/kg W0.75 - 55.9 - 34.8
Assoumaya, 2007 14 days - 42 days 56 days
Organic matter % DM 88.9 - 91 91.3
Crude protein % DM 16.4 - 10.7 7.6
NDF % DM 71.5 - 72.5 76.7
ADF % DM 35.1 - 35.9 41.3
ADL % DM 5.1 - 6.4 7.7
OMD % 70 - 68 56
DMI g/kg W0.75 89.7 - 72.5 53.9
Chenost, 1975 - 28 days 42 days 56 days
Organic matter % DM - 92.2 91.2 92.2
Crude protein % DM - 11.6 11.8 8.7
Crude fibre % DM - 32.4 33.9 34.6
OMD % - 70 68 65
DMI g/kg W0.75 - 62 54 50
Rabbits 

Rabbits can be fed on commercial granulated diet supplemented with pangola grass hay (Ferreira et al., 1999).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 27.1 6.4 16.5 43.6 174
Crude protein % DM 8.1 2.3 4.7 13.7 228
Crude fibre % DM 36.3 2.6 29.8 41.3 199
NDF % DM 71.4 5.6 59.7 77.7 19 *
ADF % DM 42.3 3.4 32.0 44.1 25 *
Lignin % DM 5.9 1.9 3.5 8.4 7 *
Ether extract % DM 2.2 0.4 1.5 3.0 169
Ash % DM 11.0 1.9 7.6 15.0 217
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.8 0.6 17.2 18.5 4 *
 
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 5.0 1.6 2.4 8.8 172
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.6 1.0 1.1 4.9 172
Potassium g/kg DM 18.3 6.2 8.6 34.4 123
Sodium g/kg DM 1.9 1.8 0.1 4.1 6
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.7 0.7 1.7 4.9 100
Manganese mg/kg DM 327 114 123 576 37
Zinc mg/kg DM 32 5 24 46 36
Copper mg/kg DM 6 1 5 9 37
 
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Arginine % protein 3.1 1
Cystine % protein 0.9 1
Histidine % protein 1.2 1
Isoleucine % protein 2.8 1
Leucine % protein 5.1 1
Lysine % protein 3.4 1
Methionine % protein 1.3 1
Phenylalanine % protein 3.2 1
Threonine % protein 3.3 1
Tryptophan % protein 1.4 1
Valine % protein 4.4 1
 
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 60.6 2.8 59.0 69.3 38 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 57.9 5.6 57.9 73.9 4 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.3 0.5 10.3 12.0 3 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.3 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 59.2 7.3 43.0 69.0 27

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

Archimede et al., 1999; Archimède et al., 2000; Archimede et al., 2001; Aumont et al., 1991; Baldwin et al., 1975; Butterworth, 1963; Caceres et al., 1986; CGIAR, 2009; Chenost, 1975; CIRAD, 1991; Holm, 1971; INFIC, 1978; Lin et al., 1988; Pozy et al., 1996; Tedeschi et al., 2001; Xandé et al., 1989

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:25

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 81.3 5.2 71.8 88.6 7
Crude protein % DM 7.9 2.1 3.8 11.7 70
Crude fibre % DM 35.5 4.9 27.7 43.1 10
NDF % DM 70.7 3.4 64.7 79.5 34 *
ADF % DM 41.4 3.9 29.2 42.4 18 *
Lignin % DM 5.7 1.7 1.9 8.6 17 *
Ether extract % DM 1.8 0.5 1.3 2.6 10
Ash % DM 7.5 2.0 3.8 10.7 64
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.4 0.3 18.1 18.6 3 *
 
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 4.8 0.5 4.2 5.9 9
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.7 0.9 1.6 4.7 11
Potassium g/kg DM 12.0 8.8 6.0 29.8 8
Sodium g/kg DM 4.1 0.7 3.4 4.9 4
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.2 1.4 0.1 4.3 8
Zinc mg/kg DM 37 34 40 2
Copper mg/kg DM 7 7 7 2
 
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 58.2 4.0 46.7 63.1 37 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 54.8 52.0 67.6 2 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.1 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.2 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 40.1 10.8 17.3 52.9 22

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

Archimede et al., 1999; Archimede et al., 1999; Butterworth et al., 1965; Butterworth, 1963; CIRAD, 1991; de Vega et al., 1997; Galgal et al., 1994; Hogan et al., 1989; Hunter et al., 1985; Hunter et al., 1986; Hunter et al., 1987; Kennedy, 1995; Minson, 1967; Minson, 1971; Perez-Maldonado et al., 1996; Rees et al., 1974; Rees et al., 1976; Rees et al., 1978; Rees et al., 1980; Rees et al., 1982; Tomkins et al., 1991; Walker, 1975

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:25

References
References 
Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Archimède H., 2015. Pangola grass (Digitaria eriantha). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/461 Last updated on May 11, 2015, 14:30

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)