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Cultivation Of Fodders (Chaara) : Cultivation Technology of Forage Crops

Salient features of forage crops

The knowledge of salient features of forages would be useful in understanding the techniques of their management and tailoring the cultural and fertilizer schedules for increased forage production.

The important characterstics are:
(i) short growth period,
(ii) grown in closer spacing with high seed rate,
(iii) dense stand to smother weeds and prevent soil erosion,
(iv) improve soil health through addition of higher amounts of organic residues in the soil,
(v) crop duration can be adjusted and risk due to aberrant weather conditions minimized,
(vi) high persistency and regeneration capacity reduce the need for frequent sowing and tillage,
(vii) crop management differs with the purpose of growing forages and mode of their utilization,
(viii) wider adaptability with capacity to grow under stress conditions,
(ix) high nutrient and water requirement under intensive cropping,
(x) multicut nature with capacity to provide regular income and employment,
(xi) economic viability depends on secondary production (livestock products),
(xii) storage, transport, processing and conservation are cumbersome,
(xiii) shy seed producer, poor harvest index and narrow seed multiplication ratio, and
(xiv) the cost of cultivation goes down in subsequent cuts in case of multicut and/or perennial forages as well as in forage-cum-seed crops.

Fodder production systems

Intensive irrigated systems

Efficient utilization of limited land resources and other agricultural inputs for obtaining the best from the harvest in the form of herbage per unit area and time is the primary objective of intensive forage production system. An ideal system, besides giving higher yields and making the maximum use of available resources, must have favourable effect on soil productivity and provide sustainability to the production system. In fact, intensive cropping is the only alternative to boost forage yield from irrigated lands and overall productivity which covers about 30% of the cultivated area in the country. The multicut nature and flexibility in manipulating the duration for several forage species are desirable traits to increase cropping/harvesting frequency.

Multiple cropping
It consists of growing 3 - 4 appropriate annual forage crops as sole crops in mixed stands (graminaceous and leguminous) in a calendar year to improve herbage quality substantially and to enhance forage productivity per unit area. It also helps maintain soil fertility over long period due to addition of root organic matter. The degree of its success depends upon agro-climatic conditions, crop and soil management practices followed and availability of inputs. Selection of appropriate crops/varieties and adoption of scattered sowing and harvesting schedules ensure the regular supply of the quality forage.

Year-round forage production through combination of perennial and annual forages
Overlapping cropping systems developed at the Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute (IGFRI), Jhansi, to fulfill the needs of dairy farmers for green fodder throughout the year and for small farmers requiring maximum forage from a piece of land. It consists of raising berseem, inter-planted with hybrid Napier in spring and intercropping the inter-row spaces of the grass with cowpea during summer after the final harvest of berseem. This system was found superior to multiple crop sequences both in terms of production and economic returns. The hybrid Napier could be successfully replaced with relatively soft and palatable perennial grasses like Setaria and guinea grass and berseem with lucerne wherever required.

Association of perennial grass and legume components
Attempts were made to select suitable ideotypes of perennial grass and forage-legume components in order to reduce the necessity of repeated sowing and tillage and to economise the use of irrigation water in the system. This resulted in the identification of an erect, leafy and compact hybrid napier-IGFRI No. 3 and K 8 variety of subabul (Leucaena leucocephala). These crops when grown together in alternate paired rows (2:2) yielded around 200 tonnes of nutritious green forage/ha/year. Such types of system are less sensitive to fluctuations in soil moisture and are more suited to southern region where both the components grow throughout the year.

The associated legumes improve the herbage quality in terms of protein and minerals and help to economise on the use of nitrogenous fertilizers. Moreover, such production systems are less expensive and offer continuous employment potential. The component crops of the system can be changed depending upon inputs availability and yield indices of the crops in a region. Similarly, cultural management practices like crop geometry, spacing, planting pattern, etc. could be adjusted to facilitate use of appropriate farm machinery and effective utilization of irrigation water.

Intensive forage sequences recommended for different regions

The intensive cropping systems when managed properly using modern techniques of soil and crop management are able to yield 180 - 300 tonnes of green fodder (30 - 55 tonnes dry fodder) per ha/year. Some of the intensive cropping systems have been suggested for different regions.

North Zone
• Maize + Cowpea – Sorghum + Cowpea (two cuts) – Berseem + Mustard.
• Sudan grass + Cowpea – Maize + Cowpea – Turnip – Oats (two cuts).
• Hybrid Napier or Setaria inter-planted with cowpea in summer and Berseem in winter (9 -10 cuts/year).
• Teosinte + Cowpea (two cuts) – Carrot – Oats + Mustard/Senji (two cuts).

Western and Central Zone
• Bajra + Guar (Clusterbean) (two cuts) – Annual Lucerne (6 cuts).
• MP Chari + Cowpea (2 cuts) – Maize + Cowpea - Teosinte + Cowpea (2 cuts).
• Hybrid Napier or Guinea or Setaria grass inter-planted with Cowpea in summer + Berseem in winter (8-9 cuts/year).
• Hybrid Napier or Guinea or Setaria grass interplanted with Lucerne (8-9 cuts/ year).

Southern Zone
• Sorghum + Cowpea (3 cuts) – Maize + Cowpea – Maize + Cowpea.
• Hybrid Napier or Guinea or Setaria grass inter-planted with Lucerne (8-9 cuts) or Hybrid Napier + Subabul / Sesbania (9-11 cuts/year).
• Sudan grass + Cowpea (3 cuts) – M.P. Chari + Cowpea (three cuts).
• Para grass + Centro (Centrosema pubescens) (9-11 cuts/year).

Eastern Zone
• Maze + Cowpea – Teosinte + Rice bean (2 cuts) – Berseem + Mustard (3 cuts).
• MP. Chari + Cowpea – Dinanath grass (2 cuts) – Berseem + Mustard (3 cuts).
• Hybrid Napier or Setaria grass inter-planted with Subabul or Common Sesban (Sesbania sesban) (9-10 cuts/year).

Principles and practices of growing important irrigated fodder crops

Crop production is concerned with the utilization of plant morphological and physiological responses within an agro-climatic environment to produce maximum yield per unit area and time. The development of crop production technologies is the master key to unlock the yield potential of crops. Fodders as a group of crops differ from food and commercial crops in several aspects; the principles and practices of their cultivation vary accordingly.

Water is the most important input for crop production especially in fodder crops where the maximum vegetative growth is desired within a short period of time. Provision of irrigation allows the maximum utilization of resources for intensive forage production, which is very important in our country with small land holdings. There are certain fodder crops like berseem, lucerne, turnip, etc. which, can be grown with adequate moisture while in others the production potential can be realized fully with irrigation.

A combination of diversified soil types, wide range of climatic conditions (cloudy to sunshine, hot to cold, dry to rainy) and a large group of forage species suited to different agro-ecological conditions and input situations, makes a congenial environment for intensive forage production programme in our country. The cultivated fodder crops can be grouped as follows:
Cereal fodders: Cereals are the crop plants belonging to grass family Gramineae and grown for their edible starch seeds botanically known as ‘caryopsis’. Cereal fodders and grasses are characteristically determinate in growth habit and their herbage quality starts deteriorating after flowering. Cereal fodders like maize, sorghum, pearl millet and oats provide energy-rich herbage to livestock. These have wider adaptability and variability in terms of growth, regeneration potential, yield and quality of herbage.

Legumes: The word legume is derived from the Latin word “Legre” (to gather) because the pods have to be gathered or picked by hand as distinct from ‘reaping’ the cereals. The plants belong to family Leguminoseae and having nitrogen fixing nodules on their roots. Legumes by and large are indeterminate in growth and thus, maintain quality traits over longer periods. The leguminous fodders have special significance because of high herbage protein and partial independence from soil for their nitrogen needs.

Other crops: Besides these important groups of fodders, root crops (turnips, carrots and fodder beets), Brassica spp. and vetches are used as supplementary source of feed to the livestock. Due to early bulking capacity and short duration, these are often gown as catch crops.

Package of practices

The forage production per unit area is a consequence of the interactions between genotypes and environment. A crop environment may be regarded as having two components, the gross environment, which takes into account the environmental factors affecting crop growth, and the current environment, which takes into account the general soil and atmospheric conditions outside the crop and also the changes caused by the plant community. However, the phenomenal increase in productivity is possible mainly through better varieties, seeds, fertilizers and agronomic technology. The package of practices of some important fodder crops (rainy season, winter season and perennials) are elaborated in following table.

Packages of practices of some important fodder crops
Crop Seed rate (kg/ha) Inter-row spacing Sowing time Irrigation interval and numbers Harvesting schedule (days) GFY (tonnes/ha) Seed (tonnes/ha)
Sorghum (single cut) 12-15 40-50 June - July Depending on 70-75 rains (in dry spell- 10-12 days) 35-40 1-1.2
Sorghum (multicut) 20-25 40-50 March- April Summer 5-6 monsoon depending upon rains 1st : 55-60 subsequent 35-40 80-90 -
Pearl millet (single cut) 8-10 40-50 June
depending on rains (in dry spell- 10-12 days) 60-70 40-45 1-1.5
Pearl millet (multicut) 10-15 40-50 March - April Summer 4-6, monsoon depending upon rains 50-55 subsequent 30-35 90-100 -
Oat (multicut) 60-70 25-30 October - Last Nov. 7-8 1st 65, subsequent 30-40 50-55 2-2.5
Oat (single cut) 60-70 25-30 October Last Nov. 3-4 75 40-45 2-2.5
Teosinte (single cut) 15-20 40-50 June July Depending on 100-135 rains (in dry spell- 8-10 days) 80-85 20-30
Teosinte (multicut) 35-40 25cm March-April Summer 7-8,
monsoon depending upon rains
75-80, subsequent 35-40 80-85 GFY -
Cowpea (rainy crop) 20-25 40-50 June-July Depending upon rains 60-65 30-35 0.8-1.0
Cowpea (summer crop) 20-25 40-50 March-April Summer 6-7 70-75 30-35 0.8-1.0
Lucerne 10-15 30-35 September-October 10-14 (12-15) 1st 60-65, subsequent 30-35 75-80 10-12
Berseem 20-25 20-25 2nd fortnight of October 8-12 (12-15) 1st 50-55, subsequent 30-35 100-120 0.8-1.0
Maize (single cut) 50-60 25-30 March, April, June, July Summer 7-8, Monsoon depending on rains (in dry spell- 8-10 days) 60-75 35-45 3-5

Oat (Avena sativa)

Oat is one of the most important cereal fodder crops of rabi season in North, Central and West Zone of the country. It provides soft and palatable fodder rich in crude protein (10-12%). The chemical composition of green fodder varies with the stage of harvest. Oat is also used as straw, hay or silage. Its grain makes a good feed particularly for horses, sheep and poultry.

Climatic requirement: Oats are well adapted to cooler environment. Its optimum growth is attained in sites with 15-25° C temperature in winter with moist conditions. Although, it can tolerate frost up to some extent but its fodder yield and quality is reduced due to hot and dry conditions.

Soil: Oat grow the best in loam to clay loam soil with adequate drainage. They produce satisfactory yields on heavy or light soils with proper moisture. It can be grown under moderate acidic or saline conditions also.

Seed rate and sowing: A seed rate of 60-70 kg/ha is recommended for uniform stand in oats. Low tillering varieties should be sown with 20-25 cm row spacing while higher tillering type should be sown 30 cm apart. Sowing of seed should preferably be done in line with seed drill or pore/kera behind the plough. Sowing time varies from one location to other. Normally, oat sowing should be started in early October to end of November in North-West to East Zone of the country. For regular supply of fodder from December to March, scattered sowing is also advocated.

Manures and fertilizers: The requirement of oats for manures and fertilizers is less as compared to other rabi cereals. It depends upon number of cuts taken. In general, addition of 20-25 tonnes of farmyard manure (FYM) before 10-15 days of sowing with the application of 80 kg N, 40 kg P2O5/ha to single cut and a dose of 120 kg N, 40 kg K2O/ha to multicut varieties attains good crop growth. In double and multicut varieties, top-dressing of 40 kg N/ha after first cut and two equal split doses of 40 kg N/ha after first and second cut should be done respectively.

Irrigation: Oats require 4-5 irrigations including the pre-sowing irrigation. If soil is dry, first irrigation is given before preparing the seedbed. Subsequent irrigations are given at intervals of about one month mostly after each cut. Timely irrigation improves the tillering remarkably, which contributes to higher forage yield. Weed control: Oat is infested with winter season grassy and broad-leaved weeds mostly found as in wheat. Effective control of weeds in oats can be obtained with weeder cum mulcher at 4 week crop stage followed by application of 2, 4-D @ 0.37 kg a.i./ha at 6 weeks crop stage.

Harvesting: Proper stage of harvesting determines the herbage yield and quality of Oat. The harvesting of single cut oat varieties is done at 50% flowering (about 50-55 days of sowing). In double cut varieties, first cut should be taken at 60 days followed by second cut at 50% flowering stage. However, in multicut varieties, first cut is recommended at 60 days, second cut at 105 days and third cut at 50% flowering. For seed production, the crop should be left for seed after the first cutting, which should be taken 50-55 days after sowing. For good re-growth, first cut should be taken 8-10 cm above the soil surface.

Yield: The average green fodder yield from single, double and multi-cut varieties of oat ranges from 30-45, 40-55 and 45-60 tonnes/ha respectively. If crop is left for seed, 25 tonnes/ha green fodder from first cut and 2.0-2.5 tonnes/ha seed and 2.5-3.0 tonnes/ha straw is obtained.

Sorgum (Sorghum bicolor)

Sorghum as a green foliage is very popular in most parts of north India and nearly 2.5 million ha area is planted during kharif. In summer, under irrigated conditions, multicut sorghum is very popular. Forage sorghum is characterized by quick growth, high biomass accumulation, and dry matter content and wide adaptability beside drought withstanding ability. It is also suitable for silage and hay making.

Varieties: There are improved varieties and hybrids capable of yielding on an average 50 tonnes/ha in single cut varieties and up to 70 tonnes/ha in multi cut varieties. The dual-purpose varieties and hybrids, CSV 15 and CSH 13 are suitable for both forage and grain production. A promising dual-purpose kharif variety SPV 1616 was released as CSV 20 for the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Gujarat. It has distinct superiority in fodder yield.An early high-yielding hybrid SPH 1290 has been released as CSH 23 for kharif season for the Zones 2 and 3 during 2005. This hybrid matures early (103 days) and is superior to the early checks, CSH 14 and CSH 17 for grain and fodder yields. It is also relatively less susceptible to shoot fly, stem-borer and grain mold compared to the checks. A forage sorghum hybrid CSH 20 MF was released in 2005 by GBPUA&T, Pantnagar, for tan, dark green heavy foliage with green midrib. This has medium thick juicy stem and resistant to foliar diseases.

Field preparation and sowing: Normally 2-3 harrowing are required before taking up planting as rainfed crop and sown with the onset of monsoon. Seed rate of 12-15 kg/ha for singlecut and 20-25 kg/ha for multicut sorghum is required. Optimum spacing is 45 cm between rows for multicut sorghum and 30 cm for single cut sorghum. As regards fertilizer application 100 kg N and 60 kg P2O5/ha for multicut sorghum and 80 kg N and 40 kg P2O5 /ha for single cut sorghum is recommended. In forage sorghum, the mixed cropping is also practiced with fodder legumes, viz. cowpea and cluster-bean, in 2:1 ratio to improve fodder yield and quality.

Harvesting: Since HCN is present in sorghum especially in early stages up to 40-50 days, proper care has to be exercised during harvesting for avoiding HCN poisoning. Single cut varieties are harvested at 50% flowering to full bloom stage and in multicut varieties the first harvest is taken at 55 days after sowing and subsequent cuts at 40 days interval.

Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum)

Pearl millet is the fourth most important grain crop next to rice, wheat and sorghum. The crop is cultivated for grain as well as fodder in the semi arid tropical regions of Africa and Asia including India. In India, annual planting area is around 10 million ha producing nearly 7.5 million tonnes of grains. It is grown mainly in Rajasthan, Maharastra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Pearl millet traditionally is an indispensable component of dry farming system. With the advent of pearl millet hybrids in mid sixties, its cultivation doubled. The crop is mainly confined to low fertile water deficit soils. Because of its remarkable ability to withstand and grow in harsh environment, reasonable and assured harvests are obtained. The crop responds to nitrogen, cultural management, and water harvesting.

Soil and climate: The crop is mostly grown in kharif season from June to October. Crop grows on a wide range of soils from very light soils from sand dunes in Rajasthan to red loams of Karnataka and Maharatsrta.

Seed rate and sowing: The recommended spacing is 45 cm between rows and 10-12 cm between plants within row. The seed rate of 8-10 kg/ha for single cut and 12-15 kg/ha for multicut is required to obtain desired yields.

Manures and fertilizers: It responds well to applied nutrients. Besides recommended dose of fertilizers, application of 8-10 tonnes of FYM is also helpful as it conserves moisture. An application of 20-40 kg N/ha in 2 split doses is recommended in Rajasthan, while in Gujarat, Haryana and Maharatstra, 60-80 kg N/ha is recommended as optimum. Application of 20 kg ZnSO4/ha enhanced grain and fodder yields. Also foliar application of ZnSO4/ha at tillering and pre-flowering stage increased grain and fodder yield. Maximum grain yield was recorded in plots of dust mulching when trial was conducted to mitigate the adverse effect of drought stress under rainfed condition. Spray of 0.1% thiouorea at tillering and flowering stages also helped to mitigate drought stress.

Inter-cultivation and weed management: The fields should be maintained free from weeds for the first 30 days as it is very important to ensure good crop growth. Two inter-cultivation and one hand weeding is necessary to minimize weed competition. Chemical weed control with Atrazine @ 0.5 kg ai/ha given as pre-emergence spray is also useful.

Diseases and pest management: Crop is comparatively less prone to pests and diseases. However, downy mildew among diseases, shoot fly and root grub among pests are prevalent in many states. Choice of diseases resistant variety is an important step in effectively managing the diseases. A seed treatment with Apron 35 SD @ 2 g ai /kg seeds followed by Ridomil 25 WP (1,000 ppm) spray 20-25 days later will effectively check the disease. Rotation of different varieties and hybrids in alternate years is also effective in arresting spread of downy mildew. Seed treatment with neem oil 5 ml/kg seed + spray of 5% (neem-seed-kernel extract (N.S.K..E.) at 50% flowering was found effective in controlling pests. Plant-protection measures are essential for white-grub and shoot fly. White-grub infestation is managed by mixing of Phorate 10G or Quinalophos 5G @ 12 kg /ha with seed and applying in furrows at sowing. Four varieties, MH 1336, MH 1364, MH 1392, and Pusa 383, were found to be resistant to smut ergot and blast.

Pearl millet-based cropping systems: In Rajasthan, intercropping of pearl millet with clusterbean or moth bean or cowpea or greengram in 2: 1 proportion is followed. This not only covers the risk due to failures of monsoon but also provides the grain legumes which help in better nutritional security and as source of additional income. In most parts of north India, Andhra Pradesh, Maharatsrtra, Tamil Nadu , and Karnataka, intercropping of pearlmillet with pulses is followed, viz. red gram/ green gram/ cowpea/ horsegram/ clusterbean.

Harvesting and storage: When grain moisture is around 20%, pearl millet is harvested as the grains are prone to spoilage during storage. It is very important to bring down moisture to 12% or less for safe storage. Improved storage structures, viz. metal bins made out of GI sheets, are suitable for safe storage of grains. The stover is a valuable feed for cattle.

Maize (Zea mays)

Maize in India ranks fifth in total area and third in total production and productivity. The level of production has to be raised because of substantial demand as food, feed and poultry feed. Maize can successfully be grown as kharif, rabi and zaid crop. Presently, the maize crop is grown in 20-30% irrigated conditions only.

Varieties: Mostly maize is grown during rainy season. Some cultivars require 60-70 days to mature; others require 100-110 days to mature. Grain colour also varies from yellow to orange to white. Mainly flint types are preferred.

Soil: Very sandy soils rapidly respond to management practices than those that are fine textured. Intermediate texture of loam to silt loam in surface horizon and little higher content of clay as silt loam to silty clay loam in subsoil is the most ideal. Soil pH of 7.5-8.5 supports good crop growth, as the crop is grown under rainfed conditions it is important that soil must have good water holding capacity, with proper drainage system to avoid waterlogging conditions.

Seed rate and sowing time: About 50-60 kg seed would be needed to sow one hectare. Seed should be grown 5 cm deep into soil for good germination, seedling growth and vigour. Transplanting should be avoided as the plant cannot cope up with main crop stand. It is preferred to sow 10-15 days before start of rain which will give 15% higher yield.

Manures and fertilizers: A balanced application of 60-12 kg N, 40-60 kg P and 40kg K/ha is recommended. Early maturing varieties require less quantity than full season maturity crops. It is also advisable to apply 20 kg zinc sulphate /ha along with basal dose of fertilizer. One-fourth of nitrogen and entire quantity of phosphorus, potassium and zinc should be applied 5-7 cm deep before sowing. The rest of the doses are applied at knee-high stage and after emergence of flag leaf but before tassel emergence.

Plant population: A population of 65,000-70,000 plants /ha at harvest is optimum for realizing higher yields. For attaining desired level of plant density, a row to row and plant to plant spacing of 75 cm × 18 cm or 60 cm × 22 cm should be maintained.

Irrigation: To ensure high and stable yield, it is desirable to give 1 or 2 irrigations at critical stages. Flowering and grain-filling stages are most critical; the crop should be irrigated at these stages, if rain fails.

Intercropping: Short-duration varieties of pulse crop, oilseed crop and vegetable can successfully be grown as intercrop. A ratio of 2 rows of maize with 1 row of other desired crop can be adopted.

Harvesting: In absence of irrigation, crop can be harvested at any stage, at pre-flowering it can be used as fodder and at dough stage green ear and stover may be used for cattle. For fodder purpose, the milk to early dough stage is preferred for higher yield and protein content. For silage, late dough stage is preferred.

Berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum )

Berseem is the prominent legume fodder crop of rabi in entire North West, Zone, Hill Zone and part of Central and Eastern Zone of the country. Berseem makes most digestible and palatable green fodder to the cattle and especially milch animals are very much benefited with berseem. It provides fodder with high tonnage over a long period from November to May in 5 - 6 cuts. It has 20-24% crude protein and 70% dry matter digestibility. It is very good soil builder and adds about 0.38-0.46% organic carbon, 15 -26 kg available phosphorus and 45 kg available nitrogen to the soil.

Climatic requirements: Berseem prefers dry and cool climate for its proper growth. Best productive crop can be obtained between 15-25° C temperatures. Its regenerative growth is retarded during severe cold or frosty period or at temperature above 40°C. It can be grown successfully in areas which receive annual rainfall of 150-250 cm or even lower but the irrigation must be assured.

Soil: Berseem can be grown on all types of soils except very light sandy soils. Well-drained clay loam soils rich in calcium and phosphorus are ideally suited for its cultivation. The crop can be grown successfully on alkaline soils having good water retention capacity. The crop can tolerate mild acidity also.

Field preparation: The seeds being very small, berseem requires a fine seedbed. One deep ploughing with soil turning plough and 2 harrowings are essential. The field may be laid out in to smaller beds of convenient size according to topography and source of irrigation water.

Sowing time: After the arrest of rains, sowing of berseem can be done from last week of September to first week of December in North West to Eastern and Central India. The time of sowing berseem is ideal when mean day temperature is 25° C, which is recorded mostly in the first to third week of October in north India.

Seed rate: The optimum seed rate is 25 kg/ha, which may be increased up to 35 kg in early or late sown conditions. For yield compensation in first cutting, 1.5 kg mustard should be sown along with berseem. For elimination of chicory weed (kasani), the seed should be poured in 1% common salt. Floating chicory seed should be taken out and remaining seed of berseem should be sown.

Seed treatment: Seed treatment with Rhizobium culture is essential, when the berseem crop is to be grown first time in the field. Before treating the seed, it should be first soaked into fresh water for about 8-12 hours. For better sticking of culture with seed, the culture is prepared with jaggery. About 1.5 litres of water is mixed with 150 g of jaggery and boiled. After cooling, 2.5 packets of berseem culture are mixed with it and then seed is well mixed and dried in a cool shady place.

Sowing method: There are two methods for sowing of berseem i.e. dry and wet bed. For satisfactory germination and good plant stand, wet method is better. Seed should be sown in beds of convenient size by broadcast method after flooding the beds with 5-6 cm deep water. Before sowing seeds, the water in the beds should be stirred thoroughly with the help of puddler or rake so as to break the clods and capillary to avoid leaching during successive irrigations. The crop should be re-irrigated after 5-6 days of sowing when germination is complete.

Manures and fertilizers: Berseem, being a legume crop, requires less nutrient replenishment in the soil. For obtaining good yield, 20 kg N and 80 kg P2O5/ha should be applied as basal dose. In saline or light textured soil, addition of 20 tonnes of well-decomposed FYM is beneficial. FYM may be excluded if the previous crop of the rotation was liberally manured and fertilized.

Irrigation: The depth and frequency of irrigation is decided by soil type, number of cuttings and nature of berseem crop, i.e. sole or mixed. First two very light irrigations (4-6 cm depth) should be given at 5-6 days interval. Subsequent irrigations may be given at an interval of 10 days in October, 12-15 days in November to January, 10-12 days in February-March and 8-10 days in April-May. Thus, about 12-15 irrigations will be needed during the entire crop season. Normally the crop should be irrigated after each cutting.

Weed control: Chicory, the associated weed of berseem should be eliminated for higher herbage and good quality fodder. Application of Fluchloralin @ 1.2 kg a.i./ha at pre planting stage controls the chicory and other weeds effectively. However, floating of berseem in 10% common salt is effective against chicory only.

Harvesting: The first cutting should be taken at 50-55 days after sowing of crop. The subsequent cuttings should be taken at 25-30 days interval. The number of cuts depends upon rate of growth and temperature during the life cycle of the crop.

Yield: A good berseem crop can give 100-120 tonnes/ ha green fodder and 15-20 tonnes/ha dry fodder.

Lucerne (Medicago sativa)

Lucerne is a valuable leguminous forage and hay crop which is generally grown in areas where water supply is inadequate for berseem. Its deeper root system makes it very well adaptable to dry areas with irrigation facility. It grows well as rainfed or unirrigated crop in high water table areas. It is an important winter fodder crop in Rajasthan, Gujarat, and parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and in Leh area of Laddakh. It is perennial (3-4 years), persistent, productive and drought tolerant forage legume which contains 15% crude protein with 72% dry matter digestibility. It sup-plies green fodder for a longer period (November - June) in comparison to berseem (December - April).

Climatic requirements: Lucerne is adapted to relatively dry conditions and it may tolerate heat as well as cold. It can not be grown under humid conditions with high temperature. It has wide ecological amplitude and can grow at 2,500 m asl to hot summer with 49°C with adequate moisture available in the soil.

Soil: Lucerne needs sandy loam to clayey soil but heavy soils need an efficient drainage system as the crop does not tolerate waterlogging. It cannot thrive on alkaline soils but can be grown on acid soils with liberal application of lime. Lucerne prefers a fertile soil which is rich in organic matter, calcium, phosphorus and potash. Field preparation: Like berseem, lucerne also needs very fine seedbed, as the seeds are very small. One deep ploughing with 2-3 harrowings followed by planking is sufficient.

Sowing time: The best sowing time of the crop is mid-October to early November. However, sowing date may spread from early October in the North to late December in the East and South Zone. In the temperate zone, spring sowing is done in March.

Seed rate and seed treatment: The seed rate depends upon method of sowing and type of the crop, i.e. pure or mixed stands. In case of broadcast method, a seed rate of 20-25 kg/ha should be used while line sowing needs only 12-15 kg/ha but in case of intercropping, it requires only 6-12 kg/ha. Like berseem, seed treatment with Rhizobium culture is beneficial.

Method of sowing: Line sowing is preferred over broadcasting. Like berseem, 10– 20 m long beds should be made along with slope with irrigation channels 4-5 m apart. Water-soaked seed is sown in shallow furrows at row distance of 30 cm by seed drill or kaira at sufficient soil moisture.

Manures and fertilizers: Lucerne being a leguminous crop requires less nitrogen. However, due to perennial nature of the crop, it is beneficial to add well-decomposed FYM @ 20-25 tonnes/ha before sowing in the first year. Normally, 20 kg N and 100 kg P2O5/ha should be applied as basal dose for good harvest. Application of molybdenum and boron may be done based on soil test. In subsequent years, annual supplementation of 80 kg P2O5 and 40 kg K2O/ha should be done.

Irrigation: To attain good germination, pre-sowing irrigation is essential. The crop needs very frequent irrigation during its early growth period at an interval of about one week but once the plants are established, subsequent irrigations are provided at an interval of 15-20 days during winter and 10-12 days during spring and summer seasons. Proper drainage should be ensured to avoid waterlogging in rainy season.

Weed control: Lucerne takes a long time to establish and therefore heavy weed infestation occurs up to first cutting. The sowing in lines makes weeding easier.Trifluralin, @ 4 kg/ha should be applied before sowing for good harvest. The akasbel (Cuscuta reflexa) should be removed from the field and burnt. The akasbel should not be allowed to set seed in any case.

Harvesting: The first cut should be taken at 55-65 days after sowing and the subsequent cuts may be taken at 30-35 days interval. In general, annual lucerne gives 4-5 cuts while in the perennial crop, 7-8 cuts can be taken.

Yield: Annual lucerne yields green fodder to the tune of 65-80 tonnes/ha while perennial crop may provide 80-1,100 tonnes/ha.

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata )

Cowpea is native to Africa and Asia and is now cultivated throughout the tropics and sub tropics. It is used as pulse, vegetable fodder and green manure. It is of considerable importance in dryland farming.

Soil and climate: It is adapted to variety of soil types, viz. red loam, black clay loam, coarse gravel, sandy loam, light sandy soils. It is also grown in sloppy land in hilly tracts and heavy loam soils. It is more tolerant to heavy rainfall than any other pulse crop. It suffers from water stagnation and heavy drought. It thrives well under the temperature range of 21- 35°C.

Cropping system: The crop is usually grown as dryland kharif crop and can also be grown as pre-monsoon and late monsoon crop. It is also grown as second crop during rabi after rice in southern parts of country.

Cultivation: Fields should be prepared well for sowing. The crop is sown in the first week of July in the hills and in the second fortnight of March in lower hills and in October in plains. One hand weeding or hoeing 30-35 days after sowing or application of weedicide Pendimethalin @ 1.0-1.5 kg a.i /ha immediately after sowing helps in control of weeds. The crop requires adequate moisture. In plains, 3-4 irrigations are required. About 120 kg N and 80 kg P/ha are recommended. Half the nitrogen is applied as basal dose and half for top dressing. The crop matures in 120-125 days. The row to row spacing is 30-45 cm. The recommended seed rate is 20-25 kg/ha. Seed yield up to 1.0 tonnes/ha is obtained.

Integrated nutrient and pest management

The fertilizer management strategies in fodder crops aim at increasing the herbage production per unit area and time along with improvement in forage quality parameters and maintenance of soil health. The requirement of fodder crops for nutrients particularly nitrogen is comparatively higher.

Chemical fertilizers have played a significant role in increasing crop productivity. But, for sustainable production from arable lands, it is important to prepare a balance sheet of nutrients depleted and nutrients supplemented. Majority of the soils at present are rich in potassium but continuous cropping without application of potash over the years may turn them to be deficient. On an average, perennial grass removes 9.40 kg N, 1.45 kg P, 14.2 kg K, 4.61 kg Ca, 2.65 kg Mg and 1.85 kg S per tonnes of dry herbage production.

Biofertilizers, the products containing living cells of different types of microorganisms, play important role in enhancing fodder production and also cutting down the usage of chemical fertilizers. Different types of biofertilizers include nitrogen fixers (symbiotic and nonsymbiotic bacteria) Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Azospirillum, Azolla and blue green algae, Phosphate solubilizers (bacteria and fungi)- Bacillus polymyxa, Pseudomonas and Aspergillus etc. , Mycorrhizal fungi –VAM (Vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae), Sulphur and iron oxidizing bacteria, etc., PGPR (Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria) are available now. Studies have shown that a saving of 20 kg N/ha may be achieved with application of Azotobacter/Azospirillum in cereal fodder crops. Similarly, increase in forage yield due to Rhizobium inoculation to legume forages ranged between 14 and 46%. Seed inoculation of berseem with phosphate solubilizer significantly increased the green fodder (103.6 tonnes/ha), dry matter (16.19 tonnes/ha) and crude protein (3.20 tonnes/ha) yields over the control. Integrated use of organic, inorganic and biofertilizer sources of nitrogen in sorghum + cowpea– berseem cropping system led to over 25% saving in N through use of Rhizobium and/ or Azotobacter. However, a reliable system of quality control and efficient system of storage, transportation and management of biofertilizers is required for its wider applicability.

The requirement of fodder crops for nutrients particularly nitrogen is comparatively higher. This is due to the fact that fodder crops are desired to produce luxuriant vegetative growth with succulent and nutritive herbage in a short period. Thus, the fertilizer management strategies in fodder crops aim at increasing the herbage production per unit area and time along with improvement in quality parameters. Based on the experimental evidences at the IGFRI, Jhansi, the fertilizer recommendations for important fodder crops have been worked out (Table 37.9). Recommended doses of NPK with S and Zn increased grain yield significantly over NPK by 17.9 and 15.9% respectively. The nutrient-use efficiency can be improved by balanced fertilizer application, based on soil test values, at right times, through best source, along with other management practices like irrigation, use of amendments and other agro-chemicals, etc.

Fertilizer requirement of different fodder crops
Crop Nutrient requirement (kg/ha) Basal dose (kg/ha) Top dressing of nitrogen (kg/ha) K2O Time of top dressing (days after sowing)
N P2O5   K2O N P2O5
Sorghum (SC) 90 30 - 60 30- 30 40
Sorghum (2-cut) 120 30 - 70 30- 50 After 1st cut
Sorghum (4-cut) 210 60 60 60 6060 50+50+50 After 1, 2 & 3rd cut
Maize 120 40 - 80 40- 40 40
Teosinte 130 30 - 50 30- 40+40 After 35 & 60
Oat (SC) 90 30 - 60 30- 30 40
Oat (2-cut) 120 40 - 80 40- 40 After 1st cut
Oat (MC) 180 60 40 60 6040 40+40+40 After 1, 2 & 3rd cut
Berseem 20 80 - 20 80- - -
Lucerne 20 120 40 20 12040 - -
Cowpea 20 60 - 20 60- - -
SC, Single cut; MC, multicut.

Organic manure-induced improvement in soil physical, chemical and biological properties is well established. Build up of secondary and micronutrients, counteracting deleterious effects of soil acidity, salinity and alkalinity and sustenance of soil health are the key beneficial effects associated with organic manure application. Use efficiency of N fertilizers is improved in the presence of FYM. The major contributors of organic source of nutrients are animal dung, crop residues and sewage sludge, etc. The use of organic and inorganic forms of P in 50:50 ratio could perform better in solubilizing and mobilizing more P for producing higher crop yield and better quality of produce.

Crop residues are good source of plant nutrients and are important components of integrated nutrient management. In regions where mechanical harvesting is done, sizeable quantities of residues are left in the field. Major portion of the residues is used as animal feed and about 33% of these residues are available for direct use. The leguminous plant residues are degraded at a faster rate than wide C: N ratio of cereal crop residues. The uses of residues are generally most effective for water conservation when managed as surface mulch. The most effective and environmentally sound methods of organic manuring offer an opportunity to cut down the dose of chemical fertilizers. Green manuring provides organic source of N and organic matter in the soil. Sesbania spp. and Crotolaria juncea are more popular leguminous crops. Amongst trees, subabul, Casuarina, Gliricidia moculata, Pongamia and Calotropis, etc. grown on bunds and wastelands for utilizing their vegetative parts are used for green manuring of soils, besides cowpea, urd bean, mung bean, etc. About 200 million tonnes of crop residues are produced from different crops annually. The potential of these has been estimated to be around 100 million tonnes annually for recycling in agriculture.

Integrated pest management is emphasized these days in order to reduce the use of chemicals. The population of the three major pests, namely leaf hoppers, lucerne weevil and aphids, can be managed effectively by growing of least susceptible variety of cowpea, IGFRI 450 in first week of July with fertilizer application of 30 kg N, 100 kg P2O5, 80 kg K2O per hectare and if required berliner @ 0.84 kg/ha may be applied. In cowpea, the damage due to major pests like, leafhoppers, semilooper, tobacco caterpillar and grasshopper can be managed without using insecticides by planting the least susceptible variety in the first week of July, using an optimal fertilizer combination of 30 kg N, 100 kg P2O5, 40 kg K2O per hectare with two weedings at 15 and 30 days crop growth stages. However, use of bio-pesticides is desirable to ensure the products with least residues cycled through livestock.

Water management

Scientific water management will hold the key to intensive agriculture in the years to come. Irrigated agriculture and water management aim to provide suitable moist environment to the crops to obtain optimum yields, commensurate with maximum economy in irrigation water and maintenance of soil productivity. The limited availability of water enables only 30% of country’s cropped area under irrigation and that too lion’s share goes to food/cash crops. In view of mounting human and livestock population pressure, the forage farming is faced with twin problems of meager allocation of land and water resources. However, water is required in huge quantities for producing high tonnage succulent biomass of forage species. Moreover, the interacting processes involved in crop growth, water use and mineral composition of forages are complex and do not easily lend themselves to quantification in soil-water-plant-atmosphere continuum. It is in this context that irrigation management requires entirely different approaches in forage production systems.

Proper irrigation schedules Development of suitable irrigation schedules offers an important approach to water saving because timely supply of water to crops in adequate quantity is the crux of the efficient water management for ensuring optimum yield and quality of produce. The suitable soil moisture environment for forage crops where objectives tend to be luxuriant vegetative growth, higher dry-matter yield and better forage quality have been worked out and given in following table. The optimum soil moisture regime for berseem, oat, maize, teosinte, sorghum, hybrid Napier and cowpea has been found to be 75% available soil moisture (ASM). Lucerne, clusterbean and barley may be irrigated at 50% ASM, whereas triticale can be grown at 25% ASM with acceptable yield.

Soil moisture requirement of important cultivated fodder crops

Crop Optimum soil moisture regime for irrigation (% ASM) Irrigation interval (days) No. of irrigations Irrigation requirement (delta of water, mm) Water-use efficiency (kg dm/ha/mm)
Berseem 75 10-12 16-18 710 22
Lucerne 50 14-18 11-13 600 14
Oat 75 12-14 6-8 340 32
Sorghum 75 9-12 8 380 30
Teosinte 75 9-12 8 380 20
Cowpea 75 9-12 8 380 18

Improved varieties

Systematic forage crop breeding programmes at the research institutions under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) have led to the development and release of a large number of improved varieties in different forage crops suitable for different agro-ecological zones. These varieties resulted in substantial increase in the productivity and production of forages in the country. The improved varieties released/notified during the past three decades are given in Table 37.6.

Forage crop varieties released/notified during 1974-2008
Crop/variety Year of release/notification Institution responsible for the development Area of adaptation
Cultivated fodder - legumes
Berseem / Egyptian clover
Mescavi 1975 CS HAU, Hisar Entire growing area
BL 1 1980 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab, H.P., Jammu
Wardan 1981 IGFRI, Jhansi Entire growing area
Jawahar Berseem 1 (JB 1) 1981 JNKVV, Jabalpur Central India
JB 2 1982 JNKVV, Jabalpur Central India
JB 3 1983 JNKVV, Jabalpur Central India
BL 22 1987 PAU, Ludhiana hill regions of North India
BL 2 1989 PAU, Ludhiana Northern India
UPB 110 1993 GBPUA&T, Pantnagar Southern zone
Bundel Berseem 2 1997 IGFRI, Jhansi North-west zone
Bundel Berseem 3 2000 IGFRI, Jhansi North-east , Eastern region
BL 42 2003 PAU, Ludhiana North-west India
HFB 600 2004 CS HAU, Hisar North-west India
BL 180 2006 PAU, Ludhiana North-west India
Hisar Berseem 1 (HFB 600) 2006 CS HAU, Hisar Haryana
GAUL 1 (Anand 2) 1975 GAU, Banaskantha Gujarat, Rajasthan, M.P.
Chetak (S 244) 1975 IGFRI, Jhansi Central Zone
T 9 (Type 9) 1978 CS HAU, Hisar Entire growing area
GAUL 2 (SS 627) 1980 GAU, Banaskantha Gujarat
CO 1 1980 TNAU, Coimbatore Tamil Nadu , Karnataka
LLC 3 1985 PAU, Ludhiana Entire growing area
LLC 5 1987 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
Anand 3 1991 GAU, Banaskantha H.P.
RL 88 1991 Rahuri, MPKV Entire country
Senji / sweet clover
HFWS 55 1989 CS HAU, Hisar Haryana
Shaftal (Trifolium resupinatum)
Shaftal 48 1991 PAU, Ludhiana H.P.
SH 69 1995 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
SH 48 1987 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
Kohinoor (S 450) 1975 IGFRI, Jhansi Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, U.P.
HFC 42-1 (Hara Lobia) 1976 CS HAU, Hisar Haryana, Punjab
GFC 1 (Gujarat 1979 GAU, Banaskantha Gujarat
Forage Cowpea 1)
GFC 2 (Gujarat 1980 GAU, Banaskantha Gujarat
Forage Cowpea 2)      
GFC 4 (Gujarat 1980 GAU, Banaskantha Gujarat
Forage Cowpea 4)      
UPC 5286 1981 GBPUA.&T, Pantnagar Whole country
GFC 3 (Gujarat 1982 GAU, Banaskantha Gujarat
Forage Cowpea 3)      
CO 5 1986 TNAU, Coimbatore Tamil Nadu
UPC 5287 1986 GBPUA&T, Pantnagar North India
Sweta (No. 998) 1987 MPKV, Rahuri Maharashtra
Charodi 1989 GAU, Anand Gujarat
UPC 287 1989 GBPUA&T, Pantnagar Entire country
Gujarat Cowpea 3 1990 GAU, Anand Gujarat
UPC 4200 1991 GBPUA&T, Pantnagar North-east zone
Cowpea 88 1992 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
Bundel Lobia 1 (IFC 8401) 1992 IGFRI, Jhansi Entire country
Bundel Lobia 2 (IFC 8503) 1993 IGFRI, Jhansi North-west zone
Guar/ clusterbean      
FS 277 1974 CS HAU, Hisar Entire guar-growing tract
HG 75 1981 CS HAU, Hisar Haryana
HFG 119 1981 CS HAU, Hisar Entire guar-growing tract
HG 182 1982 CS HAU, Hisar Haryana
HFG 156 1987 CS HAU, Hisar Entire growing tract
Guara 80 1990 North Zone Punjab
Bundel Guar 1 1993 IGFRI, Jhansi Entire growing tract
Cultivated fodder - cereals
SSG 59-3 1977 CS HAU, Hisar All India
Jawahar Chari 6 1978 JNKVV, Jabalpur M.P. (medium & heavy soils)
Jawahar Chari 69 1979 JNKVV, Jabalpur M.P.
Pusa Chari 6 1979 IARI, New Delhi All India
Ruchira 1982 MPKV, Rahuri Maharashtra
HC 136 1982 CS HAU, Hisar Entire Country
UP Chari 1 (IS 4776) 1983 GBPUA.&T, Pantnagar U.P.
GFS 3 1984 GAU, Banaskantha, Gujarat
Pusa Chari 9 1984 IARI, New Delhi All India
Rajasthan Chari 1 1984 MSUAT, Udaipur Rajasthan
UP Chari 2 1984 GBPUA.&T, Pantnagar U.P.
Pusa Chari 23 1984 IARI, New Delhi All India
PCH 106 (Hybrid) 1985 PAU, Ludhiana All India
MP Chari 1985 JNKVV, Jabalpur Entire country
Rajasthan Chari 2 (SU 45) 1986 RAU, Udaipur Rajasthan
CO 27 1986 TNAU, Coimbatore Tamil Nadu
HC 260 1987 CS HAU, Hisar Entire country
HC 171 1987 CS HAU, Hisar Entire country
Gujarat Fodder Sorghum 4 1990 GAU, Anand Gujarat
Pant Chari 3 (UPFS 23) 1991 GBPUA.&T, Pantnagar U.P.
CSH 13 R Hybrid 1991 NRC Sorghum, Maharashtra Hyderabad
Proagro Chari (SSG 988) 1991 Pro Agro Seed Co Entire country
GFSH 1 1992 GAU, Banaskantha Gujarat
MFSH 3 1993 Maharashtra Hybrid Entire country
Punjab Sudex Chari 1994 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
Harasona 855 F 1995 Pro Agro Seed Co Sorghum growing areas in
Bajra / pearl millet
Giant Bajra 1980 Rahuri, MPKV Entire country
FBC 16 1990 PAU, Ludhiana North-west India
Raj Baira Chari 2 1990 Jobner, RAU Entire growing area
PCB 164 1991 PAU, Ludhiana North-west India
CO 8 1992 TNAU, Coimbatore Entire growing area
TNSC 1 1995 TNAU, Coimbatore Entire growing tract
APFB 2 1997 ANGRAU, Hyderabad South Zone
GFB 1 2005 AAU, Anand North-west India

Avika Bajra Chari (AVKB 19) 2006

IGFRI-RRS, Avikanagar Entire growing tract
African tall 1981 MPKV, Rahuri Whole country
J 1006 1993 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
APFM 8 1997 ANGRAU, Hyderabad South Zone
Improved Teosinte 1987 CCS HAU, Hisar North, North-west & central
TL 1 1994 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
Azad 1979 CSAUT, Kanpur North, North-east & central
VLB 1 1995 VPKAS, Almora Hill Zone
HFO 114 (Haryana Javi 114) 1974 CCS HAU, Hisar Haryana
Palampur I 1980 CSK HPKV, Palampur Hill Zone
OS 6 1981 CCS HAU, Hisar Whole country
OS 7 1981 CCS HAU, Hisar Whole country
UPO 94 1981 GBPUA.&T, Pantnagar Whole country
Bundel Jai 822 1989 IGFRI, Jhansi Entire country
OL 9 1990 PAU, Ludhiana North, North-west and south
UPO 212 1990 GBPUA.&T, Pantnagar Entire Country
OL 125 1995 PAU, Ludhiana Entire Country
HJ 8 1997 CCS HAU, Hisar Haryana
SK0 7 (SABZAAR) 1997 SKUA&T, Srinagar Hill Zone
Bundel Jai 851 1998 IGFRI, Jhansi Northern & North-west
Bundel Jai 99-2 (JHO 99-2) 2002 IGFRI, Jhansi North-east & North-west
Bundel Jai 2004 2004 IGFRI, Jhansi South, North-west & Hill
JO 1 2004 JNKVV, Jabalpur entral Zone
Harita (RO 19) 2005 MPKV, Rahuri Entire country
Bundel Jai 99 1 (JHO 99-1) 2007 IGFRI, Jhansi North-east, Central India
Cultivated fodder - grasses
Napier x Bajra Hybrid
CO 1 1982 TNAU, Coimbatore Tamil Nadu, Karnataka,
Hybrid Napier 3 (Swetika) 1983 IGFRI, Jhansi North & Central Zone
NB 21 1987 New Delhi, IARI Whole of India & tropics
Yeshwant (RBN 9) 1987 MPKV, Rahuri Maharashtra
PBN 83 1989 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
Pusa Giant 1990 New Delhi, IARI Whole of India & tropics
CO 2 1991 TNAU, Coimbatore Entire Country
NB 37 1994 PAU, Ludhiana North-west
CO 3 1996 TNAU, Coimbatore South Zone
KKM 1 1999 TNAU, Coimbatore South Zone
APBN 1 2001 Hyderabad, ANGRAU North-west India
Guinea grass
PGG 13 1987 PAU, Ludhiana entral India & Hills
PGG 14 1988 PAU, Ludhiana Entire country
PGG 19 1989 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
Haritha 1990 KAU, Vellayani Kerala
Marathakam 1993 KAU, Vellayani South Zone
CO 1 1993 TNAU, Coimbatore Tamil Nadu
PGG 101 1995 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
PGG 518 1997 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
CO 2 2000 TNAU, Coimbatore Tamil Nadu
PGG 616 2001 PAU, Ludhiana Punjab
Bundel Guinea 1 2004 IGFRI, Jhansi North-west & Hill Zone
Bundel Guinea 2 2008 IGFRI, Jhansi All India
Dinanath grass
Jawahar Pennisetum 12 1974 JNKVV, Jabalpur entral Zone
Bundel 1 1987 IGFRI, Jhansi Entire Country
Bundel 2 1990 IGFRI, Jhansi Entire Country
CO 1 1995 TNAU, Coimbatore Tamil Nadu
TNDN 1 1996 TNAU, Coimbatore Tamil Nadu
IGFRI 4-2-1 1987 IGFRI, Jhansi Whole country
IGFRI 43-1 1988 IGFRI, Jhansi Whole country
White clover
Palampur Composite-1 1986 CSK HPKV, Palampur H.P.
Red clover
PRC 3 2003 CSK HPKV, Palampur Hill Zone
Range species - grasses
Dharaf grass
GAUD 1 1979 GAU, Banaskantha Gujarat, Central & western
Marvel grass
GMG 1 (Gujarat Marvel 1980 GAU, Banaskantha Gujarat, Central & western
Setaria grass
PSS 1 1989 CSK HPKV, Palampur Sub-temperate hill region
S 92 2003 CSK HPKV, Palampur Hill Zone
Anjan grass
Bundel Anjan 1 1989 IGFRI, Jhansi Arid & Semi-arid regions
CO 1 1989 TNAU, Coimbatore Tamil Nadu
CO 1 Neela Kalu Kattai 1991 TNAU, Coimbatore Tamil Nadu
Bundel Anjan 3 2006 IGFRI ,Jhansi North-west, West & South
Fescue grass
Hima 1 1998 CSK HPKV, Palampur H.P.
Hima 4 2003 CSK HPKV, Palampur Hill Zone
Sain Grass
Bundel Sen Grass 2007 IGFRI, Jhansi Entire country
Bundel Phulkara Ghas 1 2007 IGFRI, Jhansi Entire growing area in the

Dr. H. L. Shirsath,
Asst. Professor of Agronomy,
Padmashree Dr. Vithalrao Vikhe Patil Foundation’s College of Agriculture,
Ahmednagar (Viladghat),

Cultivation Of Fodders

Most of the dairy animals in India are reared on crop residues. Availability of cultivated fodder, dry fodder and concentrates is deficient by 36%, 40% and 44% respectively. It is therefore necessary to increase are a of cultivation under fodder crops. In rain fed crops MAIZE, SORGHUM, MILLET, STYLOHEMATA, SERATRO, ANJAN, COW-PEA, PAWNA, MARVEL. In the Rabi season oat, BURSEEM, LUCERN, MAIZE and again in summer, depending on type of soil SORGHUM, COW-PEA, MAIZE can be taken.

Calender for cultivation of fodder round the year can be chalked out as under.

Basic need – To provide fodder for ten cows giving ten liters of milk each.



Fodder crops


Time period
when fodder will be available

Quantity available in quintals





































Three years





Three years






3 yrs




Octo Nov








1.        Jowar (Sorghum):-

i.        Sowing Time: - March April June to August upto Nov.

ii.      Distance: -25 cm

iii.      Variety: - Ruchira (RS 11-4) Maldandi Nilva M.P.Chari PC 6, REO Pusa Chari ISP 4776 SSG 5903

iv.    Seed rate seedlings per Hectare: -20 Kg  (By machine) 50 kg Broad Casting

v.          Fertiliser (Hectare): - N-90-120 kg, P-30 kg, K-10 kg

vi.    Harvesting: -1st cut after 70 days Then  each cut after every 45-50 days

vii. Yield per Hectare: -1st cutting 25-30 tonnes Then 10-15 tonnes each cut.

2.        Maize:-

i.         Sowing Time:- March April June to Aug Oct-Nov

ii.        Distance: -25 cm or 30 to 45 cm

iii.      Variety: - African tall, Majri Com, Ganga Safed 2, Ranga 5, Deccan Double, Queenganga 101, Gbm2, Deccan 103

iv.      Seed rate seedlings per Hectare: -45 kg 70kg Broadcasting

v.       Fertiliser (Hectare): - N 80-120 kg P30-40 kg

vi.      Harvesting: -1st cut after 60-65 days

vii.    Yield per Hectare: -30-40 tonnes

3.        Cowpea:-

i.         Sowing Time: - Feb-May June-Aug.

ii.       Distance: -30 to 45 cm

iii.      Variety: - Ko1 EC 4216 HFC 42-1 PHOS 1 C-152 Number 998 RUSSIAN JIANT K 397 RS 9 UPC 5287

iv.     Seed rate seedlings per Hectare: -35 to 40 kg with 50 kg Broadcasting

v.       Fertiliser (Hectare): - N 15 kg, P 90   kg, K 30 kg

vi.     Harvesting: -1st cut 40-50 days their after 30-35 days

vii.    Yield per Hectare: -2 to 3 cuttings 35 tonnes

4.        Gajraj:-

i.         Sowing Time:- March-July June-July

ii.       Distance: -90x90 cm or 90x60 cm

iii.      Variety: - NB 21 RBNG Gajraj

iv.     Seed rate seedlings per Hectare: -25000

v.       Fertiliser (Hectare): - 80 car + load F.Y.M After cutting 25 kg N

vi.     Harvesting: - 7 – 8 weeks 1st cut thereafter 4-6 weeks

vii.    Yield per Hectare: -30-35 tonnes from each cut

5.        Lucern:-

i.         Sowing Time:- Oct-Dec

ii.       Distance: -20 cm in line

iii.      Variety: - T-9, Chikalthana, Sirsa 9, Poona 1-B, Anand 2

iv.     Seed rate seedlings per Hectare: -25 to 30 kg

v.       Fertiliser (Hectare): - N-15 kg P-160-200 kg K – 40-80 kg

vi.     Harvesting: - 45-65 days

vii.    Yield per Hectare: -1000 to 100 quintal

6.        Oat:-

i.         Sowing Time:- Oct-Dec

ii.       Distance: -25 cm

iii.      Variety: - Kent, HFO 212B, OF-6, OS-7, UPO 94 ,No.2688, OL-9, IGFR-2688

iv.     Seed rate seedlings per Hectare: -100 kgs

v.       Fertiliser (Hectare): - N-90-120 kg P-30 kg K – 15 kg

vi.     Harvesting: - Within 3 months

vii.    Yield per Hectare: -450 to 500 quintal

7.        Burseem:-

i.         Sowing Time:- Oct-Dec

ii.       Distance: -20 cm

iii.      Variety: - JB1, MESCAVI, VARDAN, B.L.1,2,10,  JB-2

iv.     Seed rate seedlings per Hectare: -30 kgs

v.       Fertiliser (Hectare): - N- 15kg P-120 kg K – 40 kg

vi.     Harvesting: - 2 1/2-3 months, 3-4 cuttings/yr

vii.    Yield per Hectare: -800 to 1000 quintal

8.        Bajra:-

i.         Sowing Time:- Mar-April June-Aug

ii.       Distance: -25 Cm

iii.      Variety: - JAINT, RAJKI-K, 674,677, L-72,74, MBHF 1/4 E

iv.     Seed rate seedlings per Hectare: -10 kgs

v.       Fertiliser (Hectare): - N 70-120 kg, P 20-30 kg, K 5 kg

vi.     Harvesting: - 3 months

vii.    Yield per Hectare: -450 to 550 quintal total

9.        Stylo Hemata:-

i.         Sowing Time:- June-Aug

ii.       Distance: -50 Cm

iii.      Variety: - Hamal, Scaba,  Humilil

iv.     Seed rate seedlings per Hectare: - 8-10 kgs

v.       Fertiliser (Hectare): - P 50 kg

vi.     Harvesting: - 40-45 days 2 cuttings

vii.    Yield per Hectare: -250 to 350 quintal total

10.     Para Grass:-

i.            Sowing Time:- May-July

ii.          Distance: -30x30 Cm

iii.         Variety: - Para

iv.        Seed rate seedlings per Hectare: -100,000 seedlings

v.          Fertiliser (Hectare): - 40 Cartloads FYM, N 25 kg

vi.        Harvesting: - 60-90 days 8-9 cuttings in a year

vii.       Yield per Hectare: - 100 to 200 tonnes/year

11.     Rhodes:-

i.            Sowing Time:- June-July

ii.          Distance: -60x60 Cm

iii.         Variety: - Rhodes 10

iv.        Seed rate seedlings per Hectare: -50,000 seedlings

v.          Fertiliser (Hectare): - 40 cart load FYM Mixed

vi.        Harvesting: - 90-120 days 2 to 3 cuttings

vii.       Yield per Hectare: -150 quintal

The yield depends upon type of soil, its fertility and availability of adequate water in time. The yield also depends upon quality of seeds, seed rate, fertilisers used, weeding done and general agroclimatic conditions.

While deciding type of fodder crop to be taken, one has to consider number of animals maintained and green fodder required per day. Accordingly the land can be cultivated phase wise so that green fodder can be made available of equal quantity per day.

If good land is available, excessive fodder can be ensilaged. In other conditions it is suggested to chaff the fodder along with dry fodder and fed.

Ag. Technologies
(Animal Husbandry)