Simultaneous association of different tree species with Cuba CT-115 (Pennisetum purpureum)

Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, 50(3): 503-510, 2016, ISSN: 2079-3480




Simultaneous association of different tree species with Cuba CT-115 (Pennisetum purpureum)


Asociación simultánea de diferentes especies arbóreas con Cuba CT-115 (Pennisetum purpureum)



Y. Sardiñas,I Alejandra Del Viento,II J. M. Palma,II

IDepartamento de Pastos y Forrajes, Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Apartado Postal 24, San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba.
IICUIDA - FMVZ, Universidad de Colima, Av. Gonzalo de Sandoval 444, CP 28045, Colima, México.




The initial performance of the simultaneous association between high sowing density of tree species and Cuba CT-115 (Pennisetum purpureum) was characterized through a random blocks design with a factorial arrangement (4 x 5) and four replications. Factors were determined by treatments and growth from 15 to 75 days old: T1) alternate furrows of CT-115 - leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala) cv. Peru; T2) CT-115 - leucaena - CT-115 - gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium); T3) CT-115 - leucaena- CT-115 - moringa (Moringa oleifera) and T4) CT-115 -leucaena - CT-115- caesealpinia (Caesealpinia platyloba). Results showed interaction for all variables corresponding to trees. The highest number of plants m-1 (P ≤ 0.001) corresponded to moringa at 45 d from sowing  (8.65) and it did not differ from leucaena at 60 d. The lowest population (P ≤ 0.001) was shown in leucaena at 15 d, without differences from gliricidia, except at 15 d. Moringa reached the highest height (P ≤ 0.001) with 104.69 cm at 75 d. The lowest height was found in leucaena at 15 d with a mean value of 3.71 cm. Leucaena showed the lowest insertion values of the first branch (P ≤ 0.001), while moringa reached 30.35 cm long. In CT-115, there were no differences among treatments, only among growth ages. It can be concluded that moringa had the best performance during the initial development stage in the simultaneous association with CT-115.

Key words: silvopastoral system, forages, trees, high density.


Se caracterizó el comportamiento inicial de la asociación simultánea entre especies arbóreas con alta densidad de siembra y Cuba CT-115 (Pennisetumpurpureum) mediante un diseño de bloques al azar con arreglo factorial (4 x 5) y cuatro réplicas. Los factores estuvieron determinados por los tratamientos y el crecimiento de 15 hasta 75 d de edad: T1) surcos alternos de CT-115 - leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala) vc. Perú; T2) CT-115 - leucaena - CT-115 - gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium); T3) CT-115 - leucaena- CT-115 - moringa (Moringa oleifera) y T4) CT-115 -leucaena - CT-115-coral (Caesealpinia platyloba). Los resultados mostraron interacción para todas las variables correspondientes a las arbóreas. El mayor número de plantas m-1 (P ≤ 0.001) correspondió a moringa a 45 d de la siembra (8.65) y no difirió de leucaena a los 60 d. La menor población (P ≤ 0.001) se apreció en leucaenaa los 15 d, sin diferir de gliricidia, excepto a los 15 d. Moringa alcanzó la mayor altura (P ≤ 0.001) con 104.69 cm a los 75 d. La altura menor se encontró en leucaena, a los 15 d con valor promedio de 3.71 cm. Leucaena presentó menores valores de inserción de la primera rama (P ≤ 0.001), mientras que moringa alcanzó 30.35 cm de longitud. En el CT-115 no hubo diferencias entre tratamientos, solo hubo diferencias entre edades de crecimiento. Se concluye que moringa fue la arbórea de mejor comportamiento durante la etapa de desarrollo inicial en la asociación de forma simultánea con CT-115.

Palabras clave: sistema silvopastoril, forrajes, árboles, alta densidad.




The loss of vegetal cover in cattle rearing agro-ecosystems, together with inadequate agricultural practices, is a synonym of degradation of natural and improved grasslands, which may transform productive areas into fragile ecosystems (Febles and Ruiz 2009). Implementation of silvopastoral systems with high sowing density is a growing subject of interest in many regions of Latin America. This responds to the need of reducing the effects of grass degradation and to the intention of diversifying farms to preserve biodiversity and increase carbon sequestration (Dias-Filho 2007, Ibrahim et al. 2007, Anguiano et al. 2013).

In this sense, one of the most used tree species is leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala) (Anguiano et al. 2012, Hou et al. 2015). Gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium) is also used for cutting and carrying (Palma 2011), and moringa (Moringa oleifera) due to its high sowing density and multiple uses (Nouman et al. 2014).

García and Linares (2012) stated that there are species that may be included on silvopastoral systems as shade trees, live fences or as timber sources, like caesealpinia (Caesalpinia platyloba).

There are herbaceous species with potential for biomass production and proper quality (Herrera et al. 2014, Herrera 2015), like Pennisetum purpureum Schumach. In Cuba and other countries from Latin America, like Mexico, this species is well spread in areas for cattle rearing, but mostly on single-crop systems. The use of this species could be an attractive option for producers who wish to have agroecosystems in their farms, with a wide range of diversification and sustainability in the meantime. Therefore, the objective of this research was to characterize the initial performance of simultaneous association between tree species with high sowing density and Cuba CT-115 (Pennisetum purpureum).



Experimental procedure. A random block design was used, with factorial arrangement (4 x 5) and four replications. Factors were determined by treatments and growth from 15 up to 75 days old.

The experiment was developed on a sandy loam soil (IUSS Working Group WRB 2014). Before the application of treatments, a sampling of the soil from the experimental area was carried out. For that purpose, three samples were taken, composed by three subsamples each, from 0 to 20 cm deep. At the lab from INIFAT, in Colima, a group of physical and chemical properties were determined. Later, a soil preparation was performed by means of two sweeps of a truck with 7,500 kg of weight. Plots of 80 m2 (8 x 10 m) and furrows of 0.80 m were marked. Before sowing the trees, all seeds, except moringa, were scarified by the method proposed by Toral and González (1999). For a minute, four species were submerged in watery solution of Aloe vera at 25 % and were mixed with 1 kg of diatomaceous earth with high content of silica, up to obtaining a homogeneous bleaching.

Tree sowing was conducted in rows, at 2 cm deep, leaving 15 seeds m-1 and 1.60 m between furrows, which mean a density superior to 90,000 plants ha-1.

Plantation of Cuba CT-115 was performed according to the methodology proposed by Padilla and Curbelo (2005). Stems were spread at the bottom of the furrows with juxtaposed tips, and covered, at 25 cm deep. Treatments were divided as follows: T1) alternate furrows of CT-115 - leucaena; T2) CT-115 -leucaena - CT-115 - gliricidia; T3) CT-115 - leucaena - CT-115 - moringa and T4) CT-115 - leucaena - CT-115 - caesealpinia. It is important to point out that limiting furrows of each plot corresponded to CT-115.

Evaluated variables. Variables evaluated were number of plants m-1, plant height (cm) from soil surface to apex of the branch from the main stem, basal diameter of the main stem (cm), number of leaves and height of insertion of the first branch (cm).

In Cuba CT-115 grass, variables measured were number of plants m-1, number of leaves stem-1, number of stems plant-1 and plant height (cm).

Sampling of trees was performed from 15 d after sowing and in CT-115, from 30 d after plantation.

Statistical analysis of data. Data processing was performed with InfoStat statistical package, version 1.0 (Di Rienzo et al. 2001). In the necessary cases, Duncan (1955) test was applied. Variables number of plants m-1, number of leaves stem-1, number of stems plant-1 and number of branches plant-1 were transformed through √n.



Results of soil analysis showed low content of organic matter (1.79 %) and of asimilable phosphorus (1.29 mg 100 g-1), a field capacity of 14.23 % and usable humidity of 6.48 %. This information indicated that natural  soil fertility conditions of this research were not favorable. Despite this fact, results achieved in all plant components were similar to those indicated in the literature for the studied species and evaluated growth ages.

The emergence of the four tree species began from the fourth day after sowing, with a predominance of moringa and caesealpinia.

Table 1 indicates interaction for factors under study (treatments/growth age). At 15 d, moringa had the highest emergence with 9.28 plant m-1, which represented a population of 58,000 plants ha-1. At the end of the research, mean population of leucaena and moringa was superior to 20,000 plants ha-1, which is a value within the range described by Ibrahim et al. (2007) for high sowing densities in silvopastoral systems. However, gliricidia and caesealpinia were not higher than 12,000 and 17,300 plants ha-1, respectively.

Attack of insects and wild animals to leucaena plants appeared at 75 d old, which could be related to the decrease of the population of this species.

Figure 1 represents the interaction among factors treatment, growth age and height of trees. Moringa reached the highest height with 104.69 cm at the end of evaluation (75 d). This species had a growth speed of 1.34 cm per day. In the association with CT-115 (figure 2), there were no negative effect on the inter-specific competence. These results evidence the possibility of establishing moringa at the same time of grasses of large size like CT-115.

Leucaena had the lowest height, at 15 d after sowing, with a mean value of 3.71 cm. At 75 d of growth, this species had a height of 60.25 cm, superior to that reported by Wencomo and Ortiz (2010), after evaluating 23 accessions of leucaena, but under greenhouse conditions.

Anguiano et al. (2012) evaluated the agronomical performance of leucaena in populations of 40,000 plants ha-1, under similar soil conditions to this experiment. At 70 d, leucaena reached 63.89 cm. While plant density grows, interspecific competence is superior and, therefore, plantlets from the initial stage of growth reach a higher height.

In gliricidia, height at 75 d was similar to leucaena. Caesealpinia was not superior to 35 cm high after 75 d of growth. It is important to point out that usable humidity of 6.48 %, within the sandy loam soil, may have had an unfavorable influence on growth of these plant species.

Table 2 indicates the interaction for factors under study in relation to the insertion of the first branch from the soil.

Leucaena had the lowest insertion (1.59 and 4.01 cm) at 15 and 75 d old, respectively. Febles and Ruiz (2008), after evaluating different origins of leucaena, from CIAT of Colombia, determined that insertion of the first branch, between 0 and 8 cm, was one of the characteristics that defined the use of these plant for grazing.

Although the range of insertion of the first branch, between 0 and 8 cm, according to cited authors, included only the study of leucaena, it could be used as reference for other species like moringa. In this case, it was 30.35 cm at 75 d.

In the international literature, there are results on the usefulness of moringa for forage production (Ramos et al. 2015), but not for grazing systems. This could be related to the length of insertion of the first branch from soil surface.

Other of the considered variables for evaluating tree performance was the number of branches plant-1. Table 3 shows the interaction among studied factors.

In gliricidia, there were 18.40 branches at 75 d of growth. This result was superior to that found by Palma (1997), who pointed out that, in populations of 40,000 plants ha-1, at 150 d of establishment, there were nine branches. In the meantime, in this study, at only half of the time and similar population, the amount of branches was duplicated.

Caesealpinia was the species with less amount of branches plant -1, which may be associated to the lowest height reached in the last sampling (figure 1).

Analyzing the stem diameter, table 4 indicates interaction among factors under study. Moringa had the highest basal diameter, at 60 and 75 d, with 1.07 and 1.03 cm, respectively, differing (P ≤ 0.001) from the rest of treatments. In that order, gliricidia followed with 0.84 cm. This value was superior to that reported by Palma (1997), finding a basal diameter of 0.93 cm in 150 d of the plant.

Regarding the performance of CT-115, in association with tree species, there were no differences in any of the variables. This is explained because this grass was established at the same time and manner in each plot where trees were sown, without modification of its management during the assay. Differences appeared during different moment of evaluation of this grass.

Table 5 indicates some morphological variables and its performance during the experimental period.

At 15 d of sowing, the sampling was omitted during the appearance of CT-115 buds. The first sampling was carried out at 30 d, when the number of plants m-1 was 2.31. The highest value was found at 45 d. During the last two samplings, population decreased regarding previous samplings.  Herrera et al. (2007), indicated values of 2.50 plants m-1 at 80 d of sowing CT-115.

Evaluating the number of leaves stem-1, between 60 and 75 d, the highest value was found. The highest amount of stems bunchs-1 was confirmed at the end of the experimental period.

Figure 2 shows the performance of height in which this species was developed. At 75 d of growth, Cuba CT-115 grass reached 147.81 cm. This result is considered as acceptable, even when the content of organic matter and phosphorous in the soil was low like the percentage of field capacity and usable humidity. Growth response pattern was similar to the description of Martínez et al. (2010) in other clones of P. purpureum at the age of 75 d of growth, although that study was developed under conditions of soil, climate and productive purposes, different from this research.

It can be concluded that Moringa oleifera showed the most adequate performance in the simultaneous association with a grass of large size like CT-115 during the initial stage of growth. It is suggested the increase of evaluation time of these species.



Thanks to the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs from for granting a postdoctoral scholarship in order to carry out this Project, which made possible the development of researches. Thanks also to Dr. José Manuel Palma and to FRABA 820/20 Project – University of Colima.



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Received: 04/12/2013
Accepted: 23/06/2016



Y. Sardiñas, Departamento de Pastos y Forrajes, Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Apartado Postal 24, San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba. Email:


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