Growing Improved Pastures for Sustainable Dairy Production [Uganda]

Ebinyansi byokurisa ente zamate

technologies_3362 - Uganda

Completeness: 94%

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)

land user:

Mugisha Robert

Diary for Life

Kyegeggwa District


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Scaling-up SLM practices by smallholder farmers (IFAD)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) - Uganda

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


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?



Pastures act as fallows therefore they improve soil quality over time

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Growing Improved Pastures (chloris gayana, brachiaria mulato and pernisetum purpurem) is a technology promoted among small, meduim scale farmers in Kyegegwa District, Western Uganda for sustainable dairy production, improved nutrition and sustainable land management.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Improved pastures comprising of fast growing nutritious grasses or legumes are generally said to be more productive than the local native pastures, because they have higher protein, carbohydrate levels and are easy to digest.
The pastures on the farm documented are established on a 2 acre piece of land located on a gently sloping area of about 20% in Kyegegwa District which experiences an average annual rainfall of about 1200 mm. The field covers the entire landscape and is neighboured by a cassava plantation. Within the same field, contour trenches were established to separate one pasture field from the other, and to also prevent soil and nutrient loss within the field. Pastures planted include Chloris gayana (rhodes grass), Brachiaria mulato (signal grass) and Pennisetum (napier grass). All grasses are native to East Africa.

Each pasture type on each plot is planted as a pure stand; the Chloris field lies on a 3000 m2 plot size, the Brachiaria field lies on 1000 m2 plot size and the Pennisetum field lies on a 4000 m2 plot size.

-Chloris gayana was planted at a spacing of 30 cm inter row and broadcasted within the rows, the seeds were mixed with sand before they were broadcasted. Thereafter the seeds were covered lightly with soils to enable easy germination of the tiny seeds.
-Brachiaria mulato was planted at a spacing of 60X 60cm
-Napier was planted at 75x 60cm.

Prior to establishment of the pastures, the plots were cleared of the bush, ploughed twice and harrowed to make a fine seed bed before planting. Two tonnes of animal manure was added. The following equipment was used:

-Hand hoes
-3 slashers
-A spirit level for leveling the contour trenches

Planting material for all the grasses was provided by the Rwebitaba Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (RwebiZARDI) in form of root tillers for Brachiaria, seeds for Chloris and cuttings for the Pennisetum grass.

Kyegegwa is one of the districts where conflicts between livestock keepers and crop farmers are increasing. This kind of pressure does not allow free range grazing any more. Therefore the pastures planted were not only to provide better quality and quantity feeds for the dairy project throughout the year but also to reduce on conflicts with neighbours. Chloris gayana yields between 20-27t DM/ha and was planted to provide hay. It is drought tolerant, has a high regeneration capacity, easy to digest and is rich in carbohydrates, while Bracharia mulato is also palatable and often used in a cut & carry system. Bracharia is easy to conserve as compared to other grasses and is rich in proteins. Napier grass was planted for its early maturity, regeneration capacity, especially during the rainy season and just like Brachiaria easy to makes silage. The improved pastures are suitable for both cut & carry and grazing and they are tolerant to drought therefore providing a sustainable feed base for the diary all year round. The pastures were also planted to act as a fallow, thereby also improving soil fertility.

Establishment costs were estimated to be at UGX 1,396,000 while maintenance costs were estimated to be at UGX 320,000 per annum. Improved pastures are advantageous because they provide more nutrients than local pastures; Chloris provides more carbohydrates whereas Brachiaria and Penisetum provide more protein. Pastures rehabilitate degraded land by acting as vegetation cover for longer periods hence reducing soil erosion and increasing soil fertility. They control broad leaved weeds and a small piece of land is used to cut and carry for stock. Improved pastures require fencing as well as improved management practices such as a good soil fertility plan.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.4 Videos of the Technology

Comments, short description:

Video showing improved pastures




Kamwenge District, South Western Uganda

Name of videographer:

Jalia Namakula

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



Region/ State/ Province:

Western Uganda

Further specification of location:

Kamwenge Town Council


The practice was established in Kyegegwa town council, Kyegegwa District, Western Uganda.

2.6 Date of implementation

Indicate year of implementation:


2.7 Introduction of the Technology

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

The improved pastures were promoted by Rwebitaba ZARDI through the Kamwenge District Local government

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



  • Annual cropping
Main crops (cash and food crops):

Cassava, maize


The farm is neighboured by a cassava plantation and a maize field

If land use has changed due to the implementation of the Technology, indicate land use before implementation of the Technology:

The field was previously used for maize cultivation

3.3 Further information about land use

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

There is a wetland at the foot of the slopes where water is drawn and used to irrigate the pastures, in addition an irrigation system is being constructed to enable sustainable pasture production.

Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

Pastures are harvested twice a year

3.4 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • pastoralism and grazing land management

3.5 Spread of the Technology

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If the Technology is evenly spread over an area, indicate approximate area covered:
  • < 0.1 km2 (10 ha)

The field lies on 0.8 ha of land

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V2: Grasses and perennial herbaceous plants

Improved pastures planted include Signal grass (Brachiaria mulato), Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana), and Napier grass (pernnisetum Purpurem)

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
  • Bl: loss of soil life

The pastures are a perennial crop that act as a soil cover for longer periods of time, preventing soil and nutrient loss therefore improving soil fertility and productivity

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

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

Pastures, because of their longivity, reduce soil erosion and therefore improve soil fertility

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

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology


Kaheru Prossy



4.2 Technical specifications/ explanations of technical drawing

The technical drawing shows improved pastures established on 0.8 ha of land (8000 m2), planted with Brachiaria (planted on 1000 m2 plot size at a spacing of 60×60cm), Chloris guyana, planted on a 3000 m2 plot size at a spacing of 30cm inter row and seed broadcasted within the row. Napier grass planted on a 4000 m2 plot size at a spacing of 75×60cm, using plant cuttings. The pastures are planted in three different blocks with each block separated by a contour trench of 2 m width and 60 m length. The Brachiaria grows up to a height of 50 cm, Chloris to around 90 cm and Napier grass can grow up to a 2 m.

4.3 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology area
Indicate size and area unit:

2 acres

other/ national currency (specify):


Indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (if relevant): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.4 Establishment activities

Activity Type of measure Timing
1. Slashing Management Once
2. Ploughing Agronomic Once
3. Field Marking Agronomic Once
4. Planting Agronomic Once

4.5 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Slashing day 3.0 100000.0 300000.0 100.0
Labour Ploughing day 3.0 120000.0 360000.0 100.0
Labour Planting day 2.0 100000.0 200000.0 100.0
Labour Excavating contour trenches meter 10000.0 100.0
Equipment Slasher piece 3.0 7000.0 21000.0 100.0
Equipment Hoes piece 3.0 10000.0 30000.0 100.0
Equipment Chisel piece 1.0 10000.0 10000.0 100.0
Equipment Spirit level piece 1.0 20000.0 20000.0 100.0
Plant material Wheelbarrow piece 1.0 75000.0 75000.0 100.0
Plant material Panga piece 3.0 10000.0 30000.0 100.0
Plant material Brachiaria bags 5.0 50000.0 250000.0
Plant material Chloris gayana kg 1.0 100000.0 100000.0
Plant material Napier grass piece 10.0 50000.0 500000.0
Fertilizers and biocides Manure bag 20.0 10000.0 200000.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 2096000.0
If land user bore less than 100% of costs, indicate who covered the remaining costs:

Labour and equipment costs were covered by the land user


Planting material was provided by the Town Council

4.6 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Type of measure Timing/ frequency
1. Weeding Agronomic once a month
2. Pesticide application Agronomic once a month
3. Cutting Management twice a month
4. Fertiliser application Agronomic twice annually

4.7 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 Weeding piece 1.5 80000.0 120000.0 100.0
Labour Spraying piece 1.5 10000.0 15000.0 100.0
Labour Cutting piece 1.5 10000.0 15000.0 100.0
Equipment Panga piece 3.0 10000.0 30000.0 100.0
Equipment Knapsack piece 1.0 120000.0 120000.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides Pesticides liter 1.0 20000.0 20000.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 320000.0
If land user bore less than 100% of costs, indicate who covered the remaining costs:

The seed and planting material were given by the RwebitabaZARDI through the Kyegegwa Town Council


Establishment of the improved pastures was done in partnership with the RwebiZARDI and Kyegegwa town council. The Agreement was for the development partners to provide seed and the beneficiary to incur establishment and maintenance costs .

4.8 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Availability of labour

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
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

Rainfall onsets in March-June
Second season starts in August- December

Agro-climatic zone
  • humid

Uganda has a tropical climate

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):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

< 5 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

for agricultural use only (irrigation)

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?




Comments and further specifications on water quality and quantity:

The water table is high

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • low
Habitat diversity:
  • low
Comments and further specifications on biodiversity:

The field has only grasses

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:
  • mechanized/ motorized
  • men
Age of land users:
  • youth
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

The farmer owns a general merchandise shop in Kyegegwa town

5.7 Average area of land owned or leased 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)?
  • small-scale

He owns 4 acres of land but in Kamwenge District average land holding is 10 acres

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

Land ownership:
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • individual

A personal water reservoir was constructed

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

Comments/ specify:

The different pastures are planted for sustainable provision of fodder throughout the year, hence stress for feed during drought period has reduced

fodder quality

Comments/ specify:

The livestock is now feeding on highly nutritious fodder hence milk production has increased throughout the year

Income and costs

farm income

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


Comments/ specify:

Before SLM,the land user was getting 15 litres of milk per day per cow at the peak of production but since increasing fodder production he is getting 25 liters of milk per day per cow (10 fresians) at the peak of production which happens in about 7 weeks into lactation period.

Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency

Comments/ specify:

The farmer's milk production has increased, he gets enough for commercial and home consumption

conflict mitigation

Comments/ specify:

Because he has his own improved pastures , conflict with the neighbours on cutting their grass has reduced

Ecological impacts


soil moisture

Comments/ specify:

Pastures act as a soil cover therefore reducing on soil water loss

soil cover

Comments/ specify:

Pastures act as a source of soil cover for stay in field longer if properly maintained

soil loss

Comments/ specify:

Because they cover the soils, soil loss has reduced significantly

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

downstream flooding

Comments/ specify:

The incidence of down stream flooding has reduced because the pastures allow water infiltration into the soil

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 Type of climatic change/ extreme How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase very well
annual rainfall decrease very well

Since pastures help in soil moisture retention they cope with drought easily

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

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

slightly positive

Long-term returns:

very positive

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

slightly positive

Long-term returns:

very positive


Establishment costs of improved pastures are high, therefore benefits are meager at the beginning, but as they last for more than a year, very positive benefits are acquired

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • single cases/ experimental

For now the field is also used as a multiplication site for seed

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Napier does not flower hence it ensures constant supply of fodder to live stock throughout the year
They are highly nutritious
They reduce soil erosion
Increase soil fertility
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
The grasses are resistant to pests and diseases
They take a short time to establish
They are tolerant to drought
The mixer of Chloris, Brachiaria and Penisetum grasses ensures that the animals have a balanced diet

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?
Establishment costs are high soliciting support from local government
Accessibility to seed is difficult its got through District local government
Skills in hay production are still lacking seek for training from development agents
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
If not properly managed the grasses can flower and loose their nutritive value harvest grass before flowering
If the livestock are grazed before the grasses have well established they can be destroyed cut and carry until pastures have reached 6 months and above

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys


  • interviews with land users


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

FROM EXTENSIVE TO SEMI-INTENSIVE LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION SYSTEMS IN THE ALBERTINE RIFT; (RashidMubiru., Teddy Namirimu,Suzan Owino, Louis Kyalingonza, Priscilla Nyadoiand Joel Buyinza ). 2013

Available from where? Costs?

7.3 Links to relevant information which is available online

Title/ description:

FROM EXTENSIVE TO SEMI-INTENSIVE LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION SYSTEMS IN THE ALBERTINE RIFT; (RashidMubiru., Teddy Namirimu,Suzan Owino, Louis Kyalingonza, Priscilla Nyadoiand Joel Buyinza ). 2013


Title/ description:

For more milk, grow pastures for your cows( New vision news paper; Monday,July 29,2019)


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