Lucerne is the queen of forage crops .Is it just that ? No , it is a multipurpose crop . In the past one or two decades ,new concepts in farming or traditional farming practices in disguise of sustainable farming , integrated farming , organic farming , natural farming or whatever the name it has been called have been evolved and put in practices by many enthusiasts ,let alone be the outcome of so called different farming methods .
Coming straight to the point , this Lucerne brings immense benefit to the farmers as forage ( green fodder ) hay ( dry fodder ) silage (Cattle pickle )
It contains 18-24 % protein with nearly 75-80 % digestibility .
It can fix atmospheric nitrogen in its root nodules and increase soil fertility . For every MT of dry matter it generate 10-20 kgs of nitrogen in soil .So the subsequent crop raised on the same field after the harvest of Lucerne grows well and produce more and quality yield of produce .
Again the roots grow deep in the soil that in turn allows more infiltration of rain water .In rainfed area ,this is one of the advantages for the farmers to effectively conserve rain water .
Also it is used as green manure to enhance soil fertility level as Lucerne is a rich source of mineral nutrients called Calcium , Magnesium , phosphorus etc.
It is also grown as cover crop that manage to check the weeds and condition the soil for subsequent cultivation of commercial crops
It is a natural bio soil ameliorant as it lessen the impact of soil salinity that adversely affect crop growth , root development and ultimately the yield of produce …
It can also be raised as intercrop in coconut for fodder , enhancing soil fertility and checking weeds …
Lucerne can be sown in interrow spaces of orchard .so it prevent soil erosion and run off and conserve soil moisture and add plant nutrients to main crop . The harvested fruits are of premium quality .
In integrated farming system ,Lucerne plays a vital role .
Cultivation of Lucerne
20 kgs of seeds are sown in one hectare .
First harvest comes in about 75-80 days after sowing .
Subsequent harvest is made in every 25-30 days
Totally 80-90 MT of green fodder is harvested in one hectare in 9-10 harvest
Plant grows to the height of 60-70 CMS
Seeds produced in one hectare field is 200-250 kgs
The farmers practicing organic farming / sustainable farming / integrated farming / natural farming can consider this option of growing Lucerne .