Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 15, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Eastern gamagrass (EGG) is a warm-season species native to the USA that is currently attracting widespread interest for use as a forage and for improving soils. This study was conducted to examine its adaptability to acid-compact soils. Two year old EGG plants at Beltsville grew well in acid-compact soils (pH 4.5) with roots penetrating 1 to 2 m. In laboratory studies with acidic Tatum subsoil and in nutrient solution, EGG was more tolerant to A1 than other crops used. Yields in replicated field plots were greater at pH 4.5 than at higher pH's. EGG did not respond to added lime (pH 5.8) in contrast to barley, wheat, soybean, and snap bean. Because of aerenchyma cells in their roots, EGG was adapted to set soils with roots living in and below the water table as evidenced by the oxidized soil surrounding the roots. Two year old EGG was also shown to be highly drought tolerant producing a total of 7 mt/ha of dry forage in 1997. Compositional analyses indicated that EGG from this site was highly digestible (~70%) and had 8-10% protein. Based on our studies, EGG is an ideal plant to improve acidic-compact subsoils and to provide a valuable summer forage for rotational grazing.