Forage potential of Salsola species in arid-saline rangelands


Abstract: We investigated the forage potential of 12 Salsola species including S. arbuscula, S. abarghuensis, S. dendroides, S. crassa, S. imbricata, S. incanescens, S. nitraria, S. kerneri, S. orientalis, S. richteri, S. tomentosa, and S. yazdiana in the Southern rangelands of the Great Salt Desert. The results showed a great significant variation among forage quality and quantity of the Salsola species. The greatest fresh and dry forages were obtained in S. yazdiana (4.54 and 1.53 kg m?2, respectively) followed by S. dendroides (3.02 and 1.13 kg m?2, respectively). The S. tomentosa had the greatest ash content by 20.2%, which significantly was higher than others; whereas the greatest crude protein was observed in S. incanescens and S. crassa. The lower acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) as appropriate forage quality indices were achieved in S. dendroides, S. imbricata, and S. arbuscula. Furthermore, S. dendroides and S. incanescens had the greatest dry matter digestibility (59%) and metabolizable energy (8%). Tissue water content in halophytes was a valuable index for salinity tolerance and forage quality, which is missed in the literature. Higher tissue water content (72.0% in S. crassa and 71.4% S. kerneri) could probably lead to lower water consumption in small ruminants. Based on the finding, Salsola species had low energy (7.1% on average) and approximately high protein content (8.5% on average), but some species such as S. incanescens and S. dendroides followed by S. imbricata had better forage quality; so they could be considered alternative forage plants in arid land regions. However, forages of these species should be used in mix with common forages due to the low energy level.

Keywords: Crude proteins, desert, detergent fiber, digestibility, halophyte, metabolizable energy

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