Tropical Forages: an interactive selection tool

Originally launched in 2005 and updated in 2020, the tool aims at promoting adoption of a large suite of grasses and legumes to be used as livestock feeds and for ecosystems services e.g. to help curb greenhouse gas emissions and reverse land degradation in the tropics and subtropics.  


Funding and implementation partners

  • Funders: ACIAR with co-funding from BMZ 
  • ILRI

Results achieved

Tropical Forages has two major components. The first provides a concise but wide range of information on tropical forage species in factsheets, including morphology, distribution, agronomic management, nutritional value and productive potential. These outline not only the benefits of these plants, but also threats they might pose if not appropriately selected or managed. The second is a selection tool, which allows users to find the kinds of forage plants that are likely to satisfy the needs of farmers in a particular context, i.e. plants that are adapted to the target environment and slot neatly into farming systems in the area. 

Next steps/variations

The revised selection tool now also includes desirability options according to the level of environmental concern of the included forages, ranging from no or minimal risk, over some risk, to some species whose forage benefit is outweighed by the environmental risk. 

Regarding technical features, the website has a new design, incorporates automatic Google translation and is fully compatible with any internet browser currently available. In order to reach more people in the global tropics including those with poor bandwidth, the selection tool can be downloaded for offline use and a mobile application was developed, which is accessible through both Google Play and Apple’s App Store 

Links to related publications and stories

Cook BG; Pengelly BC; Schultze-Kraft R; Taylor M; Burkart S; Cardoso Arango JA; González Guzmán JJ; Cox KG; Jones CS and Peters M. 2020. Tropical Forages: an interactive selection tool. 2nd and revised Edn. CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture), Cali, Colombia and ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. Digital ISBN 978958694234-8. 

CIAT. 2019. Making the most of small amounts of seed: Suggested procedures to handle small samples of tropical forage seed that needs to be increased for meaningful testing of germplasm. International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Cali, Colombia. 

Publication in Forages Newsletter (forthcoming) 

Burkart, S. 2019. Tropical Forages Database. In: Maass, B. and Pengelly, B.C. 2019. Forages for the Future. Issue 9 – August 2019, p.3 

Pineda, S. 2019. The new version of Tropical Forages selection tool is almost done! Blog post by CIAT, February 21 2019.  

Pengelly, B.C. and Cook, B.G. 2018. Updating the international database for tropical forage adaptation and use. In: Maass, B. and Pengelly, B.C. 2018. Forages for the Future. Issue 7 – June 2018, p.6