Monday, March 25, 2013

Dry-season fodder Bank sustains cattle farming



SEVAI,Cow project fodder care taker enlightens
“Dry-season fodder bank sustains cattle farming” insisted by Devi, fodder care taker in SEVAI Cow project. She enlightened a group of women cow farmers on the importance of fodder bank and added.Livestock play an important role in most small scale farming systems. They provide traction to plow fields, manure which maintains crop productivity, and nutritious food products for human consumption. Dry-season fodder production is a main objective of fodder bank management. When the dry-season is very long or the area of fodder bank very large, the pre-dry-season harvest should occur in phases. This will assure that fodder is available throughout the dry-season. During these pre-dry-season harvests the amount of fodder available may exceed normal needs. The excess may be used to increase animal rations, make silage for dry-season use, or mulch crops. Dry-season regrowth will be slow, and cutting frequencies may need to be extended. Fodder banks are long-term crops that must be properly maintained to continue high productivity. The nitrogen requirement may be self-provided if the species used are nitrogen-fixing. Many species make excellent fodder bank components. In general these species establish readily, grow fast, out-compete weeds, produce high-quality fodder, remain productive under repeated harvest, remain productive during dry seasons and survive on poor sites.In the dry season, the quantity and quality of forage greatly decreases and is generally low in nutritional value. Livestock sustained on such diets often lose weight and productivity. A more practical option is for farmers to establish fodder banks. Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder banks are valuable crops which support productive farming systems. They should be managed intensively. Direct seeding is normally recommended for fodder bank establishment. Seeds of many fodder bank species must be soaked in water or scarified to assure good germination. Sowing depth depends on seed and site characteristics. Fodder bank establishment is also possible with seedlings or cuttings. Although most fodder bank species are considered fast-growing their initial growth is often slow. During this period seedlings are susceptible to weed competition for light, moisture and soil nutrients. Depending on weed growth, the fodder bank should be thoroughly weeded every 2-4 weeks. The use of fertilizers to improve fodder bank establishment is not generally recommended. Fertilization without adequate weed control results in decreased survival and growth of fodder bank species. Control of soil erosion improves with closer in-rows spacing. Once the fodder bank is well established, grass should be allowed to grow in the area between double rows. The natural establishment of poor quality fodder grasses should be closely controlled. It is believed that the first harvest, whether from cutting or grazing, terminates the downward growth of taproots. This is an important consideration in arid and semi-arid environments. Most fodder banks are managed through a cut-and-carry system in which the fodder is harvested and then 'carried' to the livestock. A cut-and-carry system decreases fodder waste from animal damage and the necessity to monitor animals. Fodder is harvested with a minimum of bending or reaching, allowing for efficient movement by the harvester”. -Govin

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