PLANTING NAPIER GRASS

Napier grass is a fodder grass that produces a lot of high-protein forage. It is also known as “elephant grass”, “Sudan grass” or “king grass”. Its scientific name is Pennisetum purpureum.

Napier grass is best suited to high rainfall areas, but it is drought-tolerant and can also grow well in drier areas. It does not grow well in waterlogged areas. It can be grown along with fodder trees along field boundaries or along contour lines or terrace risers to help control erosion. It can be intercropped with crops such as legumes and fodder trees, or as a pure stand.

The advantage of napier grass is that it propagates easily. It has a soft stem that is easy to cut. It has deep roots, so is fairly drought-resistant. The tender, young leaves and stems are very palatable for livestock and grows very fast

The disadvantage is that it is an aggressive plant that spreads through rhizomes under the ground. If it is not controlled, it can invade crop fields and become a weed. The older stems and leaves are less palatable for Goats.

Plant them angled into the ground at about 30 degrees, so two of the nodes are buried in the soil and one is above the ground. Plant more rows with a spacing of about 90 cm (3 feet) between the rows. Planting “slips” or “splits”* If you planting “slips” or “splits”, you do not have to wait a long time for the grass to grow before you can multiply it. Seedlings from the slips become established more quickly than those grown from cuttings. Cut Napier grass stems at ground level to remove all the green material. Dig up the clump of roots and shoots growing under the ground. Separate each seedling from the clump. Each seedling must have both roots and a shoot. Trim the roots to about 5 cm (2 inches) long. Plant the seedlings in small holes or a furrow. Cover the roots with soil, but leave the shoots open to the air. Planting whole stems is useful during the heavy rains, and in hilly areas where you need the grass to sprout quickly to cover the ground. Plant them along the contour to control erosion. Cut whole young stems of Napier grass, about 2 m (6 feet) long. Put the stems end-to-end in a furrow, and cover them with soil. Water immediately.

Weed the Napier grass plot regularly. If any of the cuttings die, fill in the gaps with new ones. Harvest the grass when it is 90_120 cm (3_4 feet) high. Harvest the grass following a pattern. Beginning at one end of the row, cut enough grass to feed your animals for 1 day. The next day, cut the next grass along in the row. Carry on until you reach the end of the row. In this way, you will always be able to cut fodder for your livestock. Apply liquid manure by digging trenches in between the rows of grass. Pour liquid manure into the trenches If the livestock do not eat all the grass, use the remainder as mulch or compost. Cut the grass 15_25 cm (6_10 inches) above the ground. Some farmers have found it is better to cut at ground level, though this may damage the plant too much. Fill in any gaps in the rows with fresh cuttings. Don’t use older stems as planting materials, as they will not germinate well. Don’t intercrop with cereals, as the grass will compete with the crop for nutrients and light. Don’t allow animals to graze on the napier grass, as they may damage or kill the plants. Don’t allow the grass to overgrow, as it may become a weed. Don’t allow the grass to grow too high (more than 120 cm or 4 feet), as Goats will not eat the tough bits.

Happy Planting!

17 comments on PLANTING NAPIER GRASS

  1. Plants
    2223 days ago
    September 21, 2008 at 8:59 am

    One hundred different grasses are shown and described in the “Grasses at a Glance” section, and … Plants

    Reply
  2. thekebun
    2178 days ago
    November 5, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Thanks for the link. Was very useful for reference. Cheers.

    Reply
  3. Irene Brodie Shepherd
    1794 days ago
    November 23, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Hi there, this is not a comment, more a query. Found your website by chance when looking up napier grass. What a pleasant surprise to learn of the existence of “The Kebun”. May I have details of rates, etc? Can we just drop in at the farm for a day visit? Do we pay for that? If so, how much? Are the fruits for sale?

    I know, so many questions!! Looking forward to your reply.
    Irene Shepherd

    Reply
    • The Kebun
      1789 days ago
      November 28, 2009 at 8:22 pm

      Hello Irene,

      Thank you for dropping by our site. We do not have any daily rates for anyone dropping in for a day trip as everyone who has made an appointment and visited is welcomed.

      I hope you appreciate our request for an appointment as having unannounced visitors is not fun when you are sweaty, stinky and have goat poop under your fingernails. Nasty.

      For the moment i am away for the next 2 weeks and the farm in undergoing some sprucing up and replanting. We will be more than happy to make time for you when we are back.

      As for the fruits you are welcomed to have your fill at the farm. There are few things in life more comforting than sitting down at the end of a long day having kopi-o and some cucur cempedak.

      We shall email you when we are back.

      Cheers, Farmer Adrian

      Reply
  4. Rosalind Wong
    1777 days ago
    December 11, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Hi Farmber Adrian,

    We just started growing napier grass on our land. we was told that there is another kind of napier grass which has red stem. it is supposed to have higher nutrients than the normal green stems. Is it correct?
    Thank you.

    Reply
  5. The Kebun
    1776 days ago
    December 11, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Hello Rosalind,

    The difference in nutrient value is not worth your time to consider. I would suggest that you plant instead (adding to your Napier being planted.) the following.

    Sugarcane of which the tops can be used providing a quick boost of energy of a very hot day and the goats love it. You can also plant a fast growing tree which you can also use as posts to fence which is Gliridia sepium which is a good source of protein and can be propagated by cuttings. The species is also known to improve animal production (both milk and meat) in large and small ruminants. Then if you can source for a Neem Tree it will be fantastic. These you just feed on a ‘as and when’ you prune the tree only. Now the Cempedak tree is also very good, the leaves are much loved, even the dry ones. These you can plant in abundance and your goats will never tire of it. We slice the unripe/falled cempedak into thin slices and dry for a day or two them feed to goats. They are crazy for it.

    Be ready to offer your goats a variety of forage, not just grass. We feed them over ripe rambutans and nangka when in season and they will take even overripe banana’s, not too much, just a single one for each adult goat occasionally. Banana is high in potassium.

    I hope this helps. Cheers!

    Farmer Adrian

    Reply
  6. Rosalind Wong
    1772 days ago
    December 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Greetings Farmer Adrian,

    Thanks so much for your great feedbacks. Am looking into your suggestions! I can find glirida sepium, sugar cane, cempedak but is there another local name for neem? I reside in Sabah.

    Really appreciate your views.

    Best regards, Rosalind

    Reply
    • The Kebun
      1771 days ago
      December 16, 2009 at 8:03 pm

      Greeting Rosalind,

      If my memory serves me right the local slang used in Sarawak is Pokok Mambu or Pokok Semambu. I have heard it refered too as Pokok Laksamana.

      Let me know if you have difficulty in sourcing for this tree. Many people have attempted to try and plant from cuttings and have failed. I will see if i can source for a sapling for you. It can be cleaned and the root portion wrapped in wet tissue paper and we can pos laju to you. Just make sure you pot it immediately.

      Good luck on your hunting down the Neem Tree.

      Regards, Farmer Adrian

      Reply
  7. Zaman
    1755 days ago
    January 2, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Hi Farmer Adrian,
    Is glirida sepium & Gliricidia sepium (pokok pagar) the same?

    Tks & BRgds / Zaman

    Reply
    • The Kebun
      1754 days ago
      January 2, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      Hi there Zaman,

      My personal opinion is that glirida sepium & gliricidia sepium are one and the same. I have often heard many farmers pronounce as ‘gliridia’ and think it is just a case of mispronunciation. There is hardly anything that comes up when you goggle as such.

      Regards, Farmer Adrian

      Reply
    • Natalia
      744 days ago
      October 9, 2012 at 3:34 am

      I really wish there were more airtcles like this on the web.

      Reply
  8. Rosalind Wong
    1747 days ago
    January 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Farmer Adrien,

    Yes please. That would be great! I have tried sourcing neem tree but apparently I couldnt find this kind of tree in my area. Please do let me know how much to pay the courier charges? Is there a number I can contact you?

    Please take care.

    Best regards, Rosalind

    Reply
    • The Kebun
      1738 days ago
      January 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm

      Hi Rosalind,

      I will be looking to see if the Neem tree seeds are ready to be plucked. It might be an idea to send you the seeds instead. If the seeds don’t work out then i will send you the live saplings instead.

      Cheers, Farmer Adrian

      Reply
    • The Kebun
      1668 days ago
      March 29, 2010 at 6:28 pm

      Hi Rosalind, I have the neem seeds ready for you. Please provide a postal address and i will post it off to you. Cheers!

      Reply
  9. James L.
    1528 days ago
    August 16, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Hi, I have some spare land and interested in growing napier grass. I heard there are 2 variety such as napier india and napier taiwan. Are they more productive than local malaysian napier? Does napier require a lot of water, hence preferable to grow napier near water sources such as rivers and also in case of dry season?

    Reply
  10. The Kebun
    1528 days ago
    August 16, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Hello James,

    The ‘Malaysian’ variety grows tall. Stick to Taiwan Napier if possible.

    They require a good steady water source and the best is to use drip irrigation which you can use the water source from a well, pond, stream, rainwater collected etc. Turn off the irrigation when the weather is kind with rain.

    Use goat dung or alternatives when you prepare for planting. You should be able to harvest by the end of three months. May i suggest that you allow the weeds to grow in between too. Variety is the best and good for your goats. Remember that goats are natural foragers and they need a variety of plants. A few thousand years of evolution and logical thinking can’t be wrong.

    Let us know how you go along.

    Cheers, Farmer Adrian

    Reply
  11. Zara
    1521 days ago
    August 23, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Hi, would you know how long it takes for the grass to grow up to the desired height? also, if you cut the grass to feed the goats, how long will it take to grow back to the desired height again?
    Also, for 50 goats, around how much grass should I plant?
    Thank you very much

    Reply

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