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A Handbook of Some South Indian Grasses   By:

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BY RAI BAHADUR K. RANGA ACHARIYAR, M.A., L.T., Indian Agricultural Service, Agricultural College, Coimbatore, and Fellow of the Madras University

ASSISTED BY C. TADULINGA MUDALIYAR, F.L.S., Agricultural College, Coimbatore.


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This book is intended to serve as a guide to the study of grasses of the plains of South India. For the past few years I have been receiving grasses for identification, almost every week, from the officers of the Agricultural and Forest Departments and others interested in grasses. The requirements of these men and the absence of a suitable book induced me to write this book.

I have included in this book about one hundred grasses of wide distribution in the plains of South India. Many of them occur also in other parts of India. The rarer grasses of the plains and those growing on the hills are omitted, with a view to deal with them separately.

The value of grasses can be realized from the fact that man can supply all his needs from them alone, and their importance in agriculture is very great, as the welfare of the cattle is dependent upon grasses. Farmers, as a rule, take no interest in them, although profitable agriculture is impossible without grasses. Very few of them can give the names of at least half a dozen grasses growing on their land. They neglect grasses, because they are common and are found everywhere. They cannot discriminate between them. To a farmer "grass is grass" and that is all he cares to trouble himself about. About grasses Robinson writes "Grass is King. It rules and governs the world. It is the very foundation of all commerce: without it the earth would be a barren waste, and cotton, gold, and commerce all dead."

In the early days when the population was very much limited and when land not brought under cultivation was extensive plenty of green grasses was upon it and pastures were numerous. So the farmer paid no attention to the grasses, and it did not matter much. But now, population has increased, unoccupied land has decreased very much and the cattle have increased in number. Consequently he has to pay more attention to grasses.

On account of the scarcity of fodder, people interested in agriculture and cattle rearing have very often imported foreign grasses and fodder plants into this country, but so far no one has succeeded in establishing any one of them on any large scale. Usually a great amount of labour and much money is spent in these attempts. If the same amount of attention is bestowed on indigenous grasses, better results can be obtained with less labour and money. There are many indigenous grasses that will yield plenty of stuff, if they are given a chance to grow. The present deterioration of grasses is mainly due to overgrazing and trampling by men and cattle.

To prove the beneficial effects which result from preventing overgrazing and trampling, Mr. G. R. Hilson, Deputy Director of Agriculture (now Cotton Expert), selected some portion of the waste land in the neighbourhood of the Farm at Hagari and closed it for men and cattle. As a result of this measure, in two years, a number of grasses and other plants were found growing on the enclosed area very well, and all of them seeded well. Of course the unenclosed areas were bare as usual.

In the preparation of this book I received considerable help from M.R.Ry. C. Tadulinga Mudaliyar Avargal, F.L.S., Assistant Lecturing and Systematic Botanist, in the description of species and I am indebted to M.R.Ry. P.S. Jivanna Rao, M.A., Teaching Assistant, for assistance in proofreading.

I have to express my deep obligation to Mr. G. A. D. Stuart, I.C.S., Director of Agriculture, for encouragement to undertake this work and to the Madras Government for ordering its publication.

For the excellence in the get up of the book I am indebted to Mr. F. L. Gilbert, Superintendent, Government Press... Continue reading book >>

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