Development of mechanical methods for cell-tray propagation and field transplanting of dwarf napiergrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach.)
Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Tropics and Subtropics
Since dwarf napiergrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach.) must be propagated vegetatively due to lack of viable seeds, root splitting and stem cuttings are generally used to obtain true-to-type plant populations. These ordinary methods are laborious and costly, and are the greatest barriers for expanding the cultivation area of this crop. The objectives of this research were to develop nursery production of dwarf napiergrass in cell trays and to compare the efficiency of mechanical versus manual
... nical versus manual methods for cell-tray propagation and field transplanting. After defoliation of herbage either by a sickle (manually) or hand-mowing machine, every potential aerial tiller bud was cut to a single one for transplanting into cell trays as stem cuttings and placed in a glasshouse over winter. The following June, nursery plants were trimmed to a 25–cm length and transplanted in an experimental field (sandy soil) with 20,000 plants ha^(−1) either by shovel (manually) or Welsh onion planter. Labour time was recorded for each process. The manual defoliation of plants required 44% more labour time for preparing the stem cuttings (0.73 person-min. stemcutting^(−1)) compared to using hand-mowing machinery (0.51 person-min. stem-cutting^(−1)). In contrast, labour time for transplanting required an extra 0.30 person-min. m^(−2) (14%) using the machinery compared to manual transplanting, possibly due to the limited plot size for machinery operation. The transplanting method had no significant effect on plant establishment or plant growth, except for herbage yield 110 days after planting. Defoliation of herbage by machinery, production using a cell-tray nursery and mechanical transplanting reduced the labour intensity of dwarf napiergrass propagation.