Stephen G. Reynolds

Senior Country Project Officer
Asia and Pacific, Europe,
Near East and North Africa Service

FAO Field Operations Division
Technical Cooperation Department

The designation and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not imply any opinion whatsoever on the part of the FAO.

FOR COPIES WRITE TO:Regional Plant Production Officer
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Maliwan Mansion, Phra Atit Road
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Crop and Grassland Service (AGPC)
Plant Production and Protection Division
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome

Printed in May, 1995

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1.1 Tropical agricultural systems

1.2 Area of coconuts

1.3 Suitability of coconuts for intercropping

1.4 Agricultural production systems under coconuts

1.5 Advantages and disadvantages of intercropping coconuts

1.6 The choice between food crops and livestock

1.7 Factors influencing animal production level

1.8 The purpose of keeping cattle

1.9 World population increases


2.1 Competition

2.2 Soil moisture and nutrients

2.3 Shade and shade tolerance

2.3.1 Quality of light

2.3.2 Quantity of light

2.4 Nitrogen economy of shaded pastures

2.5 Nutritive value of shaded pastures

2.6 Reduction in pasture area and yield

2.7 Trampling and soil compaction

2.8 Cattle dung and the rhinoceros beetle

2.9 Coconut harvesting

2.10 Cattle damage to young trees

2.11 Tree spacing


3.1 Introduction: Grasses and Legumes

3.1.1 Grasses

3.1.2 Legumes

3.2 Comparison of species: tufted or bunch v. stoloniferous grass species

3.3 Indigenous v. exotic species under coconuts

3.4 Pasture species suitable for coconut environment

3.5 Overall rating of species

3.6 Effect of management levels on species selection

3.7 Effect of particular soil characteristics on species selection

3.8 Importance of drought tolerance in species selection

3.9 Importance of tolerance to waterlogging and flooding in species selection

3.10 Importance of tolerance to salinity in species selection

3.11 Type of cattle-coconut enterprise determines species selection

3.12 The importance of legumes

3.13 Characteristics of the main pasture species for coconut areas


4.1 Preliminary considerations

4.2 Clearing land for planting

4.2.1 Clearing trees and bushes

4.2.2 Clearing grasses and weeds

4.3 Land preparation

4.3.1 Methods

4.3.2 Depth of cultivation

4.3.3 Time

4.4 Planting time in relation to age of coconut trees

4.5 Seed and planting material nurseries

4.6 Planting material

4.6.1 Types of planting material

4.6.2 Planting material size

4.6.3 Planting material storage

4.6.4 Seeding rate and plant spacing

4.6.5 Legume seed preparation

4.6.6 Seed treatment against insects

4.7 Depth of sowing/planting

4.8 Sowing/planting time

4.9 Method of establishment

4.10 Oversowing and sod seeding

4.11 Fertilizer needs and application

4.12 Cost of establishment

4.13 Specific establishment techniques used for pastures under coconuts in Vanuatu


5.1 General Observations

5.2 Management during establishment

5.2.1 Early grazing

5.2.2 Weed control

5.2.3 Fertilizer application

5.2.4 Time required for establishment

5.3 Management of established pastures

5.3.1 Good pasture management

5.3.2 Grass-legume balance

5.3.3 Effect of growth stage on pasture quality and implications for grazing policy

5.3.4 Stocking rate

5.3.5 Stocking system The systems Choice of system Length of rotational cycle

5.3.6 The relationship between stocking rate and animal production

5.3.7 The influence of shading on pasture disease and animal health and disease

5.3.8 Weed control

5.3.9 Fertilizer use

5.3.10 Periodic Soil/Foliage Testing

5.3.11 Harvesting methods

5.3.12 Cut-and-carry systems

5.3.13 Time of harvest

5.3.14 Harvesting height

5.3.15 Grazing in relation to coconut harvesting

5.3.16 Forage availability and sustainability

5.3.17 Livestock forage selectivity

5.3.18 Grazing behaviour

5.4 Cattle production from pastures under coconuts

5.4.1 Liveweight gain data

5.4.2 Milk Production Data


6.1 Introduction

6.2 Seasonality of forage production

6.3 Methods of overcoming the problem of seasonal variations in forage production

6.4 Alternative feed sources

6.5 Summary of alternative feed sources for use as supplements

6.6 Examples of the use of alternative feed sources

6.6.1 Banana

6.6.2 Cassava (Manihot esculenta

6.6.3 Cocoa pod husk

6.6.4 Copra cake, coconut meal or poonac

6.6.5 Gliricidia and Leucaena

6.6.6 Oil Palm (Elais quineensis)

6.6.7 Rice by-products

6.6.8 Sugar cane

6.6.9 Sweet potato (Ipomea batatas)

6.6.10 Urea (non protein nitrogen or NPN)

6.6.11 Various oil cakes and meals as protein sources


7.1 Effect of species

7.2 Effect of fertilizer

7.3 Effect of moisture

7.4 Effect of grazing

7.5 Effect of grazing system

7.6 Effect of stocking rate

7.7 Effect of nut collection system and height of grass

7.8 Effect of legume introduction

7.9 Effect of weed control or up-keep methods

7.10 Effect of cultivation

7.11 General conclusions


8.1 Introduction

8.2 Fluctuations in copra price

8.3 Country studies

8.3.1 Fiji

8.3.2 India

8.3.3 Malaysia

8.3.4 Papua New Guinea

8.3.5 Philippines

8.3.6 Solomon Islands

8.3.7 Sri Lanka

8.3.8 Tanzania

8.3.9 Thailand

8.3.10 Vanuatu (New Hebrides)

8.3.11 Western Samoa

8.4 Conclusions


9.1 Introduction

9.2 The coconut smallholder

9.3 Economics of the smallholder coconut operation

9.4 Selection of suitable systems for the smallholder

9.5 The farming systems approach to the cattle-crops integration into smallholder systems in coconut areas

9.5.1 Bangladesh - the integrated family farm system for agriculture, livestock and energy production

9.5.2 Colombia

9.5.3 India CPCRI one hectare mixed farming system Kerala homestead system

9.5.4 Indonesia P.U.T.P. Timor The three strata forage system

9.5.5 Ivory Coast - Pilot scale integrated family farm

9.5.6 Kenya - Development of smallholder dairy production in the coastal sub-humid zone

9.5.7 Malaysia Smallholder beef production unit Smallholder dairy unit

9.5.8 Philippines Systems for integrating intercrops, pastures and livestock into coconut land in Zamboanga del Sur, Western Mindinao, Philippines Bakaunlaran - a Philippine model for smallholder dairy development Backyard Cattle Farming in Batangas and the Bakahang Barangay Cattle Fattening Scheme

9.5.9 Seychelles - Pilot family farms

9.5.10 Sri Lanka Fish-pig-duck-cattle integrated system A fodder production system for the coconut smallholder The “acre farm” at the mid-country livestock development centre Mahaberiyatenna, Digana A model integrated system for coconut small holdings

9.5.11 Tanzania - Coconuts, cattle and integrated farming systems in Zanzibar

9.6 Factors which may influence adoption of new systems at farmer level

9.7 Conclusions


10.1 Trends in copra (and coconut oil) price

10.2 Coconut plantation age

10.3 Coconut varietal improvement

10.4 Identified problems in the pasture-cattle-coconut system

10.5 Lessons from other integrated systems

10.5.1 Pinus radiata and livestock in New Zealand

10.5.2 Silvopastoral systems in North America

10.5.3 Australian agroforestry

10.5.4 Poplars in Italy and UK

10.5.5 Tree densities

10.5.6 Rubber

10.5.7 Oil Palm

10.5.8 The modelling approach

10.5.9 The economics of integration

10.6 Areas where future developments are likely to take place

10.6.1 Screening of new forage species for shade tolerance and persistence

10.6.2 Systems of coconut tree spacing with emphasis on wide inter-row areas





In the period since the 1950s there have been volatile copra price fluctuations as well as a long term decline in world copra prices. In some years copra prices have been so low that coconuts were left uncollected as labour and other costs were higher than the anticipated return from the copra. Although prices have increased in recent years the future outlook is uncertain. There is now a general realization that monocropped coconuts are no longer an economic proposition either at plantation or smallholder level. Various intercrops and intergrazing schemes have been introduced and from depending solely on copra production many coconut farmers have adopted intercropping, multistorey or multiple cropping systems.

This book examines in detail some pasture-cattle-coconut systems and provides up-to-date information on the nature of the physical environment beneath the coconut trees, pasture species, their establisment and management, cattle production data, the effects of pastures on coconut yields and economics, the use of supplementary feeds in dry periods, specific details of the coconut smallholder, recent developments in terms of the identification of shade tolerant grass and legume species, trials with different coconut spacings and the outlook in view of the declining age of many plantations, the new hybrids and lessons that can be learned from other silvopastoral systems.

As more than 90 percent of the world total of 10 to 11 million hectares of coconut (Cocos nucifera) and a large proportion of the more than 10 million farm families directly involved in coconut cultivation are located in Asia and the Pacific it is perhaps appropriate that this book on pasture-cattle-coconut systems should be published in the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, so that the information can be widely made available in the region.

Since the FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper Number 91 - “Pastures and Cattle under Coconuts” - was published in 1988 there have been considerable developments in terms of research carried out, publications and workshops and seminars. This book expands on the previous publication, incorporating much of the recent work and also draws on the observations of the author from his extensive experience and travels in the region over the last 25 years.

This publication should serve as a source book for information and as a guide to further reading as well as providing practical information on various aspects of pasture-cattle-coconut systems.

 A.Z.M. Obaidullah Khan
Assistant Director General and
Regional Representative for
Asia and the Pacific.


In addition to those cited in the acknowledgements section of the FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper Number 91, I am especially indebted to the following for providing advice, information, copies of reports and papers and for discussing their ongoing research work:

Tuisugaletaua A.S. Aveau, Dr. K.V.A. Bavappa, Dr. B. Cheva-Isarakul, Dr. C.P.Chen, Ms. D.T. Chong, Dr. I. Cisse, Dr. S. de Silva, Mr. T. Evans, Dr. P. Hajas, Dr. I. Jainuddin, Mr. R.L. Knowles, Mr. S. Lee, Dr.L.V.K. Liyanage, Dr. D. MacFarlane, Mr. S. Mack, Dr. R. Mahindapala, Mr. L. Manta, Mr. B. Mullen, Dr. F. Opio, Dr. K.K. Pathirana, Mr. A. Peters, Mrs. F. Ratnayake, Dr. L. Reynolds, Dr. M.D. Sanchez, Dr. M. Shelton, Dr. W. Stur, Mr. J. Suttie, Dr. Z. Ahmad Tajuddin, Dr. V. Timon, Dr. M. Uotila and Dr. D. Waterhouse.

In 1989 and 1990 during visits to Vanuatu, Western Samoa, Tonga and University of Queensland, Dr. D. MacFarlane, Mr. Chen Wei Hong, Mr. L. Manta, Mr. Haniteli Fa'anunu and Dr. M. Shelton provided hospitality, information and organized field visits, as did Mr. R.L. Knowles, Dr. Z. Ahmad Tajuddin, Dr. I. Jainuddin and Ms. D.T. Chong and Professor T.K. Mukherjee in 1991, during visits to Forest Research Institute, Rotorua, New Zealand and MARDI, RRIM and University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Leith Knowles was a mine of information on the Pinus radiata-livestock silvopastoral system in New Zealand and Dr. Ahmad Tajuddin, Director of Livestock Research Division, MARDI (and Dr C.P. Chen) is especially thanked for providing copies of Proceedings of the MSAP and for discussions of the OPCIS model and subsequent developments.

In 1993 FAO provided funding for me to attend the South Pacific Regional Pasture Workshop in Vanuatu. The VPIP Team in Port Vila led by David MacFarlane, Tony Evans and Ben Mullen, with Thomas Banga and Lyn Peck arranged an excellent workshop programme, which included field visits to smallholders and large plantations (on Efate, Malekula and Santo), as well as providing a number of useful publications and videos.

Some members of the Agroforestry subgroup of the FAO Interdepartmental Working Group on Land Use Planning (which promotes inter-disciplinary work and collaborative efforts in FAO in the field of agroforestry) reviewed chapters of the book and funds for publication were made available by AGPC through the subgroup. The advice of Ms. S. Braatz is particularly acknowledged.

The following kindly read and commented on parts of the draft manuscript: Dr. G. Blaak, Ms. S. Braatz, Mr. S. Mack, Mr. J. Phelan, Dr. F. Riveros, Dr. M.D. Sanchez and Mr. J. Suttie. However, any errors and omissions are the responsibility of the author.

Dr. F. Riveros, Chief, Crop and Grassland Production Service, has maintained his support and interest. Also, the continuing interest and practical support of Dr. G. Blaak, Industrial Crops Officer in the Crop and Grassland Production Service of FAO has been much appreciated, as was his earlier assistance with FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper No. 91. Mr. M. Scaillet, Director AGO and Dr. P. Nath, former Chief AGO-1 supported my visit to Vanuatu in 1993, and the latter also provided support within AGO-1.

In the FAO Regional Office Bangkok, Dr. Paroda provided initial advice on publication but the task of identifying and negotiating with the printer, and following the manuscript through to publication was undertaken by Dr. Narong Chomchalow, Regional Plant Production Officer (Industrial Crops).

My thanks to Mrs. D. Fabbri Ruggeri for early assistance with the revision, however, the major task of typing various drafts of the revised manuscript and of preparing the final version with tables, figures, bibliography and index was undertaken by Ms. F. Barcaioli. Her dedication, skill, equanimity and cheerfulness when faced with this daunting task are gratefully acknowledged. Without her continuing assistance it is doubtful that the book would have been completed in 1995.

S.G. Reynolds
FAO, Rome, April 1995


Intercropping and grazing cattle under coconuts have long been practised in many tropical countries. The introduction of intercrops has caused some concern that competition might adversely affect coconut yields. There has also been significant controversy about the feasibility of intercropping, however, in recent years with the fall in price of copra and coconut oil it has been realised that coconut monocropping is no longer an economic proposition.

Traditionally cattle have been used as ‘sweepers’ or ‘brushers’, keeping the grass and weeds short, preventing excessive nutrient and moisture competition with the coconut palms and ensuring easy location and collection of fallen nuts. Increasingly, the wide spacing between coconut palms and their considerable height have resulted in attempts to use coconut lands for intercropping and multicropping schemes thus augmenting land productivity. New management techniques have been adopted and major research efforts are under way in a number of countries to increase knowledge of pasture-cattle-coconut systems. Where available land areas and size of unit are small, increasing use is being made of by-products and the production of forage integrated with the production of food crops. To increase animal carrying capacity for beef and dairy animals, improved grasses and legumes have been planted under coconut trees. Fertilizer is used to increase both forage and nut yields. Also, research has identified a number of smallholder farming systems which have potential for wider application.

Since the publication in 1988 of FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper Number 91 (Pastures and Cattle Under Coconuts) there has been a growing interest in the integration of livestock and tree crops, a number of important workshops have been held and a large number of papers have been published.

Important workshops have included the following:

Among the recently completed and ongoing projects which (have already or continue to) generate information about coconut-pasture-cattle systems are:

The purpose of this book is to provide an introduction to the subject for college and university students, to serve as a reference for researchers and provide information and ideas of practical use to subject matter specialists, extension workers, plantation managers and progressive smallholders. The material presented represents an expansion and updating of FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper Number 91 published in 1988 for which there was a keen demand. In preparing the manuscript the aim was to:

  1. incorporate recent research findings;

  2. improve the balance of the book by expanding some sections;

  3. add a new chapter on likely future trends in the light of developments in the coconut industry, and

  4. include also some material for tree crops such as oil palm and rubber because of their importance in South-East Asia and to include also data for sheep and goats (as well as cattle) under coconuts.

Thus, Chapter 1 has been updated and expanded with new material on agricultural systems and the suitability of coconuts for intercropping; Chapter 2 has more than doubled in size with new material on soil moisture, quantity and quality of light, shade tolerance of various species, the nitrogen economy and nutritive value of shaded pastures, cattle damage to young trees and tree spacing; an expanded Chapter 3 includes a more comprehensive treatment of species for low light environments, new material on all species, completely rewritten sections on Gliricidia and Leucaena and the inclusion of new species such as Setaria sphacelata, Arachis pintoi, Vigna hosei and Vigna parkeri; Chapter 4 includes new material on the cost of establishment and specific techniques from Vanuatu; Chapter 5 has been considerably expanded to include new material in the cattle production section; Chapters 6 and 7 have been updated while Chapter 8 includes new country studies from Fiji, India, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Vanuatu; an expanded Chapter 9 includes new farming systems from Colombia, India , Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia and Sri Lanka; a new Chapter 10 on “Recent Developments and Possible Future Trends” looks at trends in copra and coconut oil prices and the economics of monocrop coconut compared with intercropping, the problem of ageing coconut plantations, the key question of varietal improvement, identifies problems in the pasture-cattle-coconut system, reviews lessons to be learned from other integrated systems such as Pinus radiata and livestock in New Zealand, silvopastoral systems in North America, Australian agroforestry and rubber and oil palm especially in Malaysia, introduces the modelling approach, looks at the economics of integration and finally emphasizes three areas where future developments are likely or are already taking place - screening of new forage species, systems of tree spacing with emphasis on wider inter-row areas and the development of multicropping systems to maximize returns to the grower.

Hopefully it will contribute towards increasing productivity in pasture-cattle-coconut systems. Certainly some material will have been overlooked and this book will become dated as new findings are published. The author, the FAO Regional Office in Bangkok and the Crop and Grassland Production Service at FAO Headquarters in Rome would therefore appreciate receiving copies of published or unpublished papers and reports on pasture-cattle-coconut systems.

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