Improved pastures are pastures that have undergone breeding, selection, and improvement for better yield and livestock performance. They differ from native pastures because they are mainly exotic or are imported from other countries.
They can also be introduced from one region to another within the same country. Therefore, their management practices differ from the native species.
They produce higher biomass of superior quality than native pastures. However, the cost of establishing and maintaining improved pastures is always a course of concern for farmers.
Improved pastures refer to cultivated or managed areas of land that have been modified to enhance the growth of specific, desirable forage plants for grazing animals.
These pastures are carefully designed and maintained to optimize the nutritional value and overall productivity of the forage.
In simpler terms, improved pastures are like customized gardens for farm animals, where farmers grow special types of grass and plants that are extra nutritious and delicious for the animals to eat.
Just like how people make a garden more beautiful by planting specific flowers, farmers create improved pastures to make sure their animals have the best possible food to eat.
This helps the animals stay healthy and strong, and also helps the farmers produce more milk, meat, or other animal products.
Definition of Improved Pastures
Improved pastures are pastures that produce higher-quality forage for livestock. These pastures could also be used for land management such as control of erosion.
They could be fully sown pastures, which could be sole specie pastures or mixed grass-legume pastures. Sometimes, native pastures could be over-sown with improved legumes.
These pastures persist under heavy doses of artificial fertilizers, especially grass species. Therefore, mixed grass-legume pastures are better, provided they are well adapted to the environment, adequately fertilized, and not over-grazed.
Examples of improved pasture species include Brachiaria brizantha (grass), Mucuna pruriens (legume), Digitaria smutsii (grass), Arachis pintoi (legume), etc.
Furthermore, improved pastures are a result of careful planning and hard work by farmers to ensure that the land is used efficiently and sustainably.
By selecting the right types of grass and plants to grow, farmers can create pastures that are more resistant to pests and diseases, and that can withstand harsh weather conditions such as droughts or heavy rainfall.
These pastures not only provide a balanced diet for the animals but also contribute to maintaining the health of the soil and preventing erosion.
Additionally, improved pastures can play a crucial role in enhancing the overall biodiversity of the area, supporting the growth of beneficial insects and other organisms that contribute to a healthy and thriving ecosystem.
In summary, improved pastures are like specially designed buffet areas for farm animals, carefully planned and tended to by farmers to ensure the best quality food for their animals, while also taking care of the environment around them.
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Read Also: Definition and Management of Native Pastures
Management of Improved Pastures
Improved pastures are managed in the same way other crops are managed on the farm. The management of these pastures starts at the establishment phase.
The following steps are important for the successful establishment and high-quality biomass in these pastures:
Selection of fertile land for establishment;
Good and timely land preparation;
Choice of the right pasture specie;
Use of correct seed rate depending on the cost of the seeds and availability;
Use of the recommended seeding depth during planting;
Proper control of weeds;
Defoliation/removal of shoots for forage conservation or livestock feeding.
Limitations of Improved Pastures
The following limitations have been identified in improved pastures:
They are expensive to establish and maintained;
They may not establish themselves well in the locality where the farmer intends to establish them;
Seeds from improved pastures are difficult to acquire for farmers;
Some improved pastures are not suitable for temporary use due to their growing habits.
In summary, improved pastures produce forage of superior quality to livestock. They can be used for other purposes such as land management.
The agronomic procedure is the same as that of field crops. They are however constrained by some limitations, especially the cost implication.