Working Group – Fodder Crops

 The Working Group for Fodder Crops operates within the framework of the Programme for Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources of the Republic of Srpska. In the previous period, the Working Group has worked on the  inventory in the major part of the Republic of Srpska.

In relation to the total agricultural area of the Republic of Srpska (1,298,619 ha), natural meadows and pastures occupy a considerable share (622,655 ha, i.e. 48 % ) and represent an important natural habitat for a large number of plant species. Due to a great diversity of natural conditions, especially climatic and edaphic factors, the elevation and the shape of terrain, but also direct and indirect impact of man on the grass vegetation through the application of care and utilization measures, a large number of natural pastures has been  formed in some areas. More than half of the areas under meadows and nearly 2/3 of the grasslands area are located in the mountainous regions of the Republic of Srpska. Mountain natural grasslands are an important source of forage and in some areas they form the forage base. These grasslands are mainly exploited in a combined manner (hay-pasture). As pastures, they are mainly used in the early spring and late fall. In addition, they play an important role in protecting soil from erosion and the protection of the human environment. 

Most of these natural grasslands are degrading in terms of quality and number of plant species due to improper management. To prevent the deterioration and loss of certain types of phytocenoses, a conservation program has been made including a mandatory list of species for conservation. Based on the mandatory list of plant species, the Working Group has determined the plant species which are important for recording, collection and preservation in our agroecological region. There are about 200 plant species on the list which make an integral part of our phytocenoses and thus are important forage plants. As these plants are not represented equally and do not have the same characteristics, the Working Group has determined priorities and the priority list of species. Due to a great diversity of our phytocenoses, a recording job is very extensive and requires a lot of time and research. 

In terms of forage production, all herbaceous plants that occur in natural grasslands are classified into four groups: legumes, grasses, greens and grass plants. While from the botanical point of view legumes and grasses represent individual families, greens and long grass plants combine a larger number of families, which are in some way related. 

Priorities in the work of the Working Group are plants from the family Fabaceae and Poaceae. However, if other typical forage plants are found during the field work, they are  recorded and collected. In terms of nutritional value, the family Fabaceae or legumes have the highest quality. A large share of legumes in natural grassland provides high nutritional value. From the family of legumes several species are collected, the most important being: the mountain clover, red and white clover, vetch, beans, legumes and other. 

Plant species with the seed of adequate quality and quantity are stored in the Plant Gene Bank of the Republic of Srpska in the amount of 10,000 seeds per accession. For species in which there are not enough seeds, the multiplication of seeds is performed in similar agro-ecological conditions.

To save the plants from the damage caused by habitat degradation, field collection is created for some of the species which are considered endangered. The collection is stored in one place, under the auspices of the Genetic Resources Institute, in the area that has adequate conditions and staff for their sustainable use. For the time being, the services of the Educational Center Manjača are used (the Centre for Rural Development of the Banja Luka City). The evaluation of the material in the collection is performed through monitoring exercises, which represents a pre-breeding operation.