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Agriculture > Forage Crops

Crop Management

Cultivation of Forage Crops

Forage crop establishment and management

  • Tropical forage species are sown under a wide range of conditions varying from fully cultivated prepared seedbeds to over-sowing of seed into undisturbed grasslands.
  • For the successful establishment, management and utilisation of different forage crops, utmost care should be taken right from the selection of site. The main factors affecting growth and yield are as follows.
  • Climatic factors: radiation, day length, temperature, humidity, wind and precipitation.
  • Soil factors: chemical fertility, physical properties, soil moisture characteristics and topography.
  • Pasture species: genetic potential for yield and nutritive value, adaptation to the environment, plant competition, acceptability to the animal and long term persistence.
  • Pasture management: cutting/grazing, fertilizer strategies, weed control and other cultural practices.

Preparation of seedbed

The degree of seedbed preparation depends very much on the nature of vegetation and the type of seeds to be sown. Large seeded legumes will often tolerate poor seedbed conditions than the minute grass seeds. The seedbed should be thoroughly prepared to enable even germination. The land can be prepared by ploughing, digging, followed by harrowing and levelling. A firm level seedbed is required. For sloppy area, to avoid erosion rough seedbed with contour bunding is to be made.

Sowing of seed

Broadcasting and drilling of seeds (flow or pinch seeding) are the normal sowing techniques. Seeds should not be deeply sown.  Line sowing would be helpful to ascertain the germination and for weeding till early establishment.

Adequate fertiliser application of major elements is essential. A minimal fertiliser recommendation would be phosphorus 40 kg/ha (as P2O5) and potash 40 kg/ha for grasses and for legumes 60 kg/ha of prosphorus and 40 kg potash. This has to be applied annually as basal dose by May-June. For good fast vegetative growth nitrogen is quite essential. The best is to apply cow dung/slurry, if not available after each cut apply 30-40 kg/ha of nitrogen. Regarding harvesting two important aspects have to be taken care of. They include the cutting height (provide six inch stubble height) and cutting interval. Harvesting can be done once in thirty days during summer under irrigation and in other seasons once in 45 days. The stubble height at harvesting recommended is15 cm except in the case of congosignal which can be cut close to the ground.

For small farmers with limited area of land it is advisable to raise grass seedlings on a small bed and transplant at 25 to 30 days of age. Companion pasture is the system that is followed by most of our farmers and grass can be planted along with any existing crop wherever sunshine is available.


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