Growing stylo grass (Stylosanthes guianensis) as cattle fodder between and under mango trees. [Cambodia]

ការដាំស្មៅជាចំណីសត្វ (Stylosanthes guianensis) ទៅតាមចន្លោះដើមស្វាយ (Khmer)

technologies_1642 - Cambodia

Completeness: 84%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Stylo grass (Stylosanthes guianensis) is grown under and between mango trees to be used as fodder for cattle.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Stylo grass (Stylosanthes guianensis, CV. Stylo 184) is a leguminous shrub which is used in pastures and as fodder crop. It is drought tolerant and can be harvested during the whole year, though it grows only when sufficient water is available. Mangos (Mangifera indica) are grown mainly from seeds in the area, either as single trees in home gardens or as orchards. The farmer of this case study has a mango orchard of 0.6 ha with trees spaced 6 by 8 meters, and grows stylo grass as a cover crop under and between the trees. Each day a patch of stylo grass is harvested by hand, and around 40 kg of this fodder is fed to the cattle together with rice straw. This allows the farmer to keep more cattle than before, 11 heads instead of 5. The mangos are mainly sold on the market, and some are dried. This agroforestry system reduces erosion by wind and water, as the soil is covered the whole year and the trees slow down the wind. The cattle can be kept near the house, which is good for making compost and biogas.

In 2004, the farmer cleared a forest and planted mango seedling. Between the mangos, he grew pumpkins, watermelons and cucumbers, but even though he used compost the soil fertility deteriorated fast and the cucurbits did not produce anymore. A local NGO, LAREC (Local Agricultural Research and Extension Centre), was looking for farmers with enough cattle and land in the area to try stylo grass, which was unknown in the area. The farmer, first reluctant because his other crops were not producing, started to plant stylo grass seeds he got from the NGO in July 2013 (information for this documentation was collected one year after the start).To do so, he plouwed and harrowed the fields with the hand tractor, and broadcasted the seeds by hand. After the first 3 months, during which he needed to weed, he started harvesting the fodder, and he cut 40 kg a day, one patch after another, 20 cm from the soil. This allows the reproduction of this cover crop.
The land user wants to expand his stylo grass to his other mango orchard, and is collecting seeds for this. Other farmers in the area are also interested in this technology; and the land user of this case-study starts to sell them stylo grass seeds but does not produce enough for all yet.

The analysed area is mostly flat (slope < 2%), tropic (dry and wet season), and the soils are mostly sandy or loamy. The soils contain little organic matter (low soil fertility, acidification, small amount of cattle, area has been deforested) and the groundwater table is rather high (3 m below soil level during the dry season, on the surface during the wet season).
Due to climate change, the rainfalls are more erratic, temperatures rise and droughts are more recurrent. Rice is the predominant crop grown in the area, since it serves as staple food (mix subsistence and commercial activities). Rice is often grown in monocultures and harvested once a year. Once the rice is harvested (dry season), some farmer release cattle to the paddy fields to eat the straw and weeds.

As an addition to rice, most land users grow vegetable and fruits in small home gardens (subsistence) and complement their income by producing handicrafts or through off farm income / remittances from family members working in other places. The increasing migration rate (the young generation leaves the villages to work in the cities, garment industry or abroad) results in a decrease of available labour force in the area which has detrimental effects on the agricultural activities. Furthermore, the civil war in the 1970s (Khmer Rouge) led to the loss of agricultural knowledge which different NGOs try to re-establish.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Kampong Chhnang

Further specification of location:

Sre Ouk Samlor Sap/Taing Krasaing/Rolear Pha,er

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If the Technology is evenly spread over an area, specify area covered (in km2):


If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • < 0.1 km2 (10 ha)

0.6 ha

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

It started in July 2013 when SOFDEC gave stylo grass seeds to farmers with enough cattle and land

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied

Land use mixed within the same land unit:


Specify mixed land use (crops/ grazing/ trees):
  • Agroforestry



  • Annual cropping
  • Tree and shrub cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • fodder crops - grasses
Tree and shrub cropping - Specify crops:
  • mango, mangosteen, guava
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 210 Longest growing period from month to month: June-December


Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Lack of organic matter, lack of water retention in soil, irregularity of rainfall, low soil fertility (sandy soil), monocultures, bare soil during dry season.
Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Low soil fertility, lack of water, soil erosion by water on the slope.

3.3 Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?

Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?
  • Yes (Please fill out the questions below with regard to the land use before implementation of the Technology)


  • Tree and shrub cropping

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • agroforestry

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V2: Grasses and perennial herbaceous plants
management measures

management measures

  • M1: Change of land use type

Type of vegetative measures: aligned: -linear

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover
  • Bq: quantity/ biomass decline

Main causes of degradation: soil management (Soil left bare during the dry season.), deforestation / removal of natural vegetation (incl. forest fires) (Deforestation in 2004)
Secondary causes of degradation: population pressure (.New areas are deforested, and are degraded after a few years.), inputs and infrastructure: (roads, markets, distribution of water points, other, …) (Lack of irrigation.)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation
  • restore/ rehabilitate severely degraded land

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Stylo grass is harvested daily between the mango trees, one patch after another. This allows different stages of growth.

Kampong Chhnang
Date: 2014
Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: low
Technical knowledge required for land users: low

Main technical functions: increase of biomass (quantity), promotion of vegetation species and varieties (quality, eg palatable fodder)
Secondary technical functions: improvement of ground cover, increase in nutrient availability (supply, recycling,…)
Aligned: -linear
Vegetative material: T : trees / shrubs
Number of plants per (ha): 200
Vertical interval between rows / strips / blocks (m): 8
Vertical interval within rows / strips / blocks (m): 6

Vegetative measure: Covering the soil
Vegetative measure: Vegetative material: G : grass
Trees/ shrubs species: Mangoes, Mangifera indica. Planted.
Grass species: Stylo grass, Stylosanthes guianensis. Seeded.


Stefan Graf

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Plow the field, dig holes and plant mango seedlings. Once at the beginning of the wet season (May-June)
2. Sow stylo grass. Once in July.
3. Weeding first 3 months

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour ha 1.0 21.25 21.25 100.0
Equipment machine use ha 1.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Plant material seeds ha 1.0 8.0 8.0
Plant material seedlings ha 1.0 200.0 200.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides fertilizer ha 1.0 28.0 28.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 357.25
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 357.25

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Harvest 40 kg of stylo grass. 1h/d
2. Harvest mangoes April-May
3. Maintain the stylo grass, sowing bare spots 2 person days per month

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour ha 1.0 590.0 590.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 590.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 590.0

The costs were calculated in 2014 for an area of 0.6 ha. The farmer got 100’000 riel (25US$) for the 800 – 1000 kg mangoes produced, and a bag of fodder (40 kg, that he harvests each day on 0.6 ha) can be sold for around 5000 riel (1.25) on the market.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

The costs were calculated as if he hired someone, and bought mango seedlings. As he did all of the work by himself, it was much cheaper. The most expensive is the harvesting of the fodder, but it should be taken into account that it is less labour intensive than harvesting wild grasses and cheaper than buying them.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

1486.45 mm 2013 in Kampong Chhnang

Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

27° to 35°C

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
  • low (<1%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

< 5 m

Availability of surface water:

poor/ none

Water quality (untreated):

poor drinking water (treatment required)

Comments and further specifications on water quality and quantity:

availability of surface water poor durin dry seasons

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • low

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Sedentary or nomadic:
  • Sedentary
Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • rich
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • mechanized/ motorized
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly Leaders / privileged

Difference in the involvement of women and men: Only one man is applying the technology, his wife works in the garment industry.

Population density: 10-50 persons/km2

Annual population growth: 0.5% - 1%

Off-farm income specification: His wife works in a factory.

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • medium-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • communal/ village
  • individual, not titled
Land use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • open access (unorganized)

Land ownership is very complex. Most of the land belongs officially to the government, yet many land users hold a paper confirming they applied for a land title – but de iure, this paper is worthless.

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


fodder production


fodder quality


animal production


production area

Income and costs

diversity of income sources


Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency


Contribution to human well-being

Comments/ specify:

Less time needs to be invested in harvesting wild grasses.

Ecological impacts


soil cover


soil loss

Comments/ specify:

No wind erosion because of the soil cover, less water erosion.

nutrient cycling/ recharge

Comments/ specify:

Stylo gras is a leguminous, thus fixes nitrogen.

soil organic matter/ below ground C

Comments/ specify:

The mango leaves fall to the soil and increase the organic content.

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

biomass/ above ground C

Climate and disaster risk reduction

wind velocity

Comments/ specify:

The mango trees slow down the wind

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

downstream siltation


wind transported sediments


Fields need to be fenced because of the neighbour's cattle

low impact
high impact
Comments/ specify:

The living fence was already planted before.

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase not known

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm well
local windstorm well
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood not known

Other climate-related consequences

Other climate-related consequences
How does the Technology cope with it?
reduced growing period well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

very positive

Long-term returns:

very positive


The maintenance costs consist mainly of harvesting, which is very positive.

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • > 50%
If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):

100% or 1 land user family


100% of land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support
1 land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support
Other farmers in this village want to grow stylo grass, but cannot get seeds. This farmer starts to sell seeds to other farmers.
Other farmers in this village want to grow stylo grass, but cannot get seeds. This farmer starts to sell seeds to other farmers.
There is a strong trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology
Other farmers in the village showed strong interest to start applying this technology. The farmer of this case study started to sell seeds to 3 of them, and 7 others in the area showed interest as well but there were not enough seeds available.

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
As a leguminous, stylo grass could be plowed into the soil to improve the soil fertility.
Less time is needed to harvest fodder for the cattle, as he does not need to collect it from the wild anymore.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
As a leguminous, stylo grass has a high protein content, which makes it valuable as fodder.
The soil is covered, trees slow down the wind, inducing a good micro-climate and stopping wind erosion.
Water erosion on slopes is reduced as the stylo grass covers the soil.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
The land has to be fenced off, as neighbours cattle otherwise graze in his fodder. Living fence (currently used by the land users), needs only little maintenance.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Productivity of the mangoes is mostly low as seedlings were used. Learn how to graft, with improved varieties or selected individuals from the farm. The use of seedlings allows a selection of new varieties; the grafting can take place at any tree size.
The cultivar Stylo 184 has only a single-gene resistance to anthracnose ( In case of breakdown all the fodder is lost. Mixed cropping with another fodder, or mixed cropping of different cultivars of Stylosanthes guianensis
Stylo grass is not considered shade tolerant (, when the mangoes will grow higher could become unproductive. Use dwarf rootstocks for the mangoes, space them further apart, or use different species of fodder.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys
  • interviews with land users
When were the data compiled (in the field)?


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Tropical forage info website. Stylosanthes guianensis

Available from where? Costs?

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Feedipedia Website. Stylo (Stylosanthes guianensis)

Available from where? Costs?

Links and modules

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