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close this bookAbstracts on Sustainable Agriculture (GTZ; 1992; 423 pages)
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View the documentAcknowledgements
View the document1. Tree products in agroecosystems: economic and policy issues.
View the document2. Sustainable use of plantation forestry in the lowland tropics.
View the document3. The palcazu project: forest management and native yanesha communities.
View the document4. Opportunities and constraints for sustainable tropical forestry: lessons from the plan piloto forestal, quintana roo, Mexico.
View the document5. The taungya system in south-west Ghana.
View the document6. Planning for agroforestry.
View the document7. Sowing forests from the air.
View the document8. Agroforestry pathways: land tenure, shifting cultivation and sustainable agriculture.
View the document9. Food, coffee and casuarina: an agroforestry system from the Papua New Guinea highlands.
View the document10. Agroforestry in africa's humid tropics - three success stories.
View the document11. Agroforestry and biomass energy/fuelwood production.
View the document12. Regeneration of woody legumes in Sahel.
View the document13. Medicines from the forest.
View the document14. Potential for protein production from tree and shrub legumes.
View the document15. Agroforestry for sustainable production; economic implications.
View the document16. Living fences. A close-up look at an agroforestry technology.
View the document17. Homestead agroforestry in Bangladesh.
View the document18. Guidelines for training in rapid appraisal for agroforestry research and extension.
View the document19. Erythrina (leguminosae: papilionoideae): a versatile genus for agroforestry systems in the tropics.
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14. Potential for protein production from tree and shrub legumes.

In: Proc. of a Seminar "Forage Legumes and other Local Protein Sources as Substitutes for Imported Protein Meals", Kingston, Jamaica, 1987, pp. 50-55

This paper attempts to outline and give some information on the production of protein from tree and shrub legumes.

Certainly it does not attempt to cover all that is known about the more widely used and adapted legumes in the tropics. The author feels that there is need to investigate the legumes that are not so widely used, thereby exploiting the natural sources that may exist within the tropical cattle grazing areas.

In the tropics, forages usually have inadequate levels of proteins and minerals. The low levels severely affect livestock production, resulting in restricted growth rates, slow maturation and lower production.

The leguminous trees and shrubs have not only persisted but have become more diverse, with more than 18,000 known species. The tree legume family is thus one of the most numerous due to its adaptive traits and efficient use of the earth's natural resources, especially through the symbiotic mechanisms developed in its root structure.

Their rapid growth and high protein content makes them useful as a forage supplement. At the same time, the chemical linkages between the phenolic substances and the leaf proteins makes these resistant to bacterial attack, thereby making them more valuable as sources of nutrients.

Livestock producers are placing greater emphasis on the use of forage legumes in developing ruminant production systems. These legumes are fed either fresh, or are preserved in the form of hay or silage, to be used as a high protein supplement in the diet.

The tree and shrub legume species mentioned in this paper are:


- Aeschynomene americana L. is a tropical annual adapted to flooded soil conditions, exhibiting much diversity in plant form and growth habit.

- The crude protein content of Aeschynomene is higher than that of alfalfa, with beef cattle making greater weight gains on Aeschynomene than alfalfa in Florida.

- Codariocalyx gyroides, is a shrub indigenous to Southern Asia, reaching heights of over 3 m under fertile conditions.

- Cajanus cajan L. although not usually used as a forage legume in the tropics, does possess excellent characteristics. It is an annual or, more usually, a short-term perennial shrub growing up to 4 m high and woody at the base.

- Desmodium ovalifolium is of Asiatic origin and used widely in plantation agriculture as a cover crop.

- Desmanthus virgatus, a small nearly erect shrub, 2 to 3 m tall, found in the West Indies and from Florida to Argentina, is not widely used as a pasture species. The legume grows in sandy soils under a rainfall regime of 1000 - 1500 mm and prefers soils of pH 5.0 to 6.5.

- Indigofera hirsuta L. is a legume native to tropical Africa and Asia. The plant grows from 1 to 2.5 m tall, having an erect habit with few lower branches and with medium to fine stems becoming woody as the plant matures. The literature states that Indigofera can be used as a green manure or cover crop producing up to 5 tonnes of organic matter, and with proper management can make an excellent livestock feed, because of its high protein value and digestibility.

- Stylosanthes guianensis. The genus Stylosanthes has many species, which could be considered as shrub type legumes. Because of the apparent lack of importance of the other species, only S. guianensis is discussed.

- Gliricidia sepium (syn. Gliricidia maculata) trees grow up to 5- 15 m in height. The plant is native to Mexico and the West Indies, with a wide usage including live-fencing, wind breaks, shade trees and fodder.

- Leucaena leucocephala has it origin in Mexico but has spread throughout the tropics. It is a good browse species but prefers alkaline soil conditions.

The development work with tropical tree foliages as protein sources has been in the field of ruminant production systems. The positive results obtained in early trials proved to be sustainable under a wide range of commercial farm conditions and the rate of uptake of the technology by farmers has been rapid.

Attention should being given to their potential role in the diets of monogastric animals, with special emphasis on their use as supplements to liquid fibre-free feed resources such as sugar-cane juice and molasses. The first observations with pigs indicate that it is feasible to reach forage intakes that theoretically will satisfy the protein needs.

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