Biomass Production in the rangelands of Gambella, southwestern Ethiopia
The study was conducted in the rangelands of Gambella, southwestern Ethiopia with the objectives of investigating biomass production of the grassland. For the vegetation survey the rangeland was stratified by districts namely: Itang and Jikawo and each district further divided into major grazing types (less, seasonal, communal grazed and river basins). Data were collected on grass species composition and estimation of the biomass was made on the dry matter basis. Biomass of standing grass and total biomass in the districts were significantly (p<0.05) affected by grazing. Accordingly, with the highest in less grazed areas (2,044 and 2,216 kg/ha) followed by moderately grazed areas (1,006 and 1,137 kg/ha) the least in river basins (467 and 563 kg/ha). In Jikawo district, total biomass of less grazed, moderately grazed and heavily grazed communal lands and river banks were 1678; 1032;652 and 457 kg/ha, respectively. The standing grasses biomass of these major grazing areas was with the order of 1513; 897; 573 and 369 kg/ha, respectively. The annual DMY of the herbaceous vegetation layer in the study districts under the grazing land use category may be estimated as 243,950.0 t DM/annum for Itang and 173,470.0 t DM/annum for that of Jikawo. According to the estimated biomass production of the grazing lands, the carrying capacity of the rangeland in Itang and Jikawo would be 0.16 and 0.13 TLU/ha, respectively. However, rangelands in Jikawo district support large number of livestock beyond their maximum capacity (0.85 TLU/ha) compared to the estimated CC. On the other hand, in Itang there was underutilization of the grassland due to lower livestock population depended on the available grassland feed resources (i.e., 0.05 TLU/ha). An attempt to employ appropriate management systems along with monitoring of the rangeland condition might be needed to promote the productivity of the study areas to the level of the carrying capacity to ensure its sustainable utilization.
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