COMPARATIVE ASSESSMENT OF THE EFFECT OF DIFFERENT RATES OF GOAT DROPPINGS ON THE PERFORMANCE OF AMARANTHUS HYBRIDUS
An extensive literature documents the potential for integration of pasture and goat dropping in plantation agriculture (Shelton et al. 1987). The integration of various crops and animals enables synergistic interactions, and result in a greater additive and total contribution than the sum of their individual effects (Edwards et al., 1988) cited in Devendra, 2011.The principal advantage of integration of goat droppingon the performance of AmaranthusHybridus is the total farm productivity and sustainable agriculture in the context of efficient natural resource management, together with attendant benefits of reduced weeding and fertilizer costs, improved soil fertility due to the return of dung and urine and value addition to the tree crop (Devendra, 2004). These cropping in the forest zone carry lush leguminous cover crops such as AmaranthusHybridus. Such cover crops grow profusely and have to be cut down regularly, which is an expensive operation (Devendra, 1991). The animals are introduced to keep grass and weeds short to prevent excessive nutrient and moisture competition with the crop.
In spite of the numerous advantages associated with the above practice, any demerits that may be associated with it must be examined. Most studies have been centred on the growth of the plants (Tan and Abraham, 1981), weed control by the animals (Tan and Abraham, 1981) damage by the grazing animals (Tan and Goh 1988) and economies of combined grazing and chemical control (AniArope et al. 1985). One area that has not been studied is the effect of the dropping of the animals on the soil microflora and microfauna whose activities in one way or the other influence the productivity of the crops. Soil fungi break down organic matter releasing the component nutrients which are used by the plants. If the dung contains favourable compounds, the microorganisms might gain by its addition to the soil. On the other hand it may contain toxic compounds which will inhibit their growth. It may contain neither of these and will then have no chemical effect at all on the fungus. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of the dung of goat on growth of AmaranthusHybridus, which is a fast growing fungus and commonly forms a heavy whitish growth on the upper layers of the soil. This fungus was selected because it is most likely to come into contact with the droppings of the herds of goat which could accumulate in the grazing area.