Originally from sub-Saharan Africa, Brachiaria grasses found their way to South America centuries agopossibly as bedding on slave ships. Improved varieties of the grass are widely grown on pasturelands in Brazil, Colombia, and other countries, and they have recently been taken back to Africa to help ease severe shortages of livestock feed.
In a major breakthrough, JIRCAS scientists discovered several years ago the chemical substance responsible for BNI and developed a reliable method for detecting the nitrification inhibitor coming from plant roots. Scientists at CIAT then validated the BNI concept in the field, demonstrating that Brachiaria grass suppresses nitrification and nitrous oxide emissions, compared with soybean, which lacks this ability.
Other research has shown that deep-rooted, productive Brachiaria grasses capture large amounts of atmospheric carbonon a scale similar to that of tropical forestsa further plus for climate change mitigation.
"Our work on BNI started with a field observation made by one of our scientists in the 1980sback then it was nothing more than a dream," said Peters. "But now it's a dream with an action plan and solid scientific achievements behind it."
BNI research forms part of a larger initiative referred to as LivestockPlus, which proposes to deliver major benefits for the poor and the environment through innovative research on tropical forage grasses and legumes.
The LivestockPlus initiative takes place within the global framework of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, led by the Kenya-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The program a
|Contact: Susan Tonassi|