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Pashu Gyan
20 Feb

Rijka(Alfalfa) Cultivation: Ensure Abundant Green Fodder Supply

Rijka(Alfalfa) Cultivation: Ensure Abundant Green Fodder Supply

In India, 'rijka' (alfalfa) is cultivated mainly among green fodder after sorghum and berseem. Rijka cultivation covers an expansive area of nearly 1 million hectares in the country. It is a nutritious fodder crop for livestock that aids in digestive health and increases milk production. Its remarkable feature is that single-time sowing can yield green fodder for farmers for several years. Today, through this post, we will dive into the benefits of rijka cultivation and gather additional insights related to its farming.

Benefits of Rijka Farming

  • Rijka is a leguminous crop. Its cultivation improves soil fertility and enhances soil productivity.
  • The deep roots of Rijka plants make them suitable for cultivation even in areas with water scarcity.
  • Compared to other green fodder crops, Rijka cultivation requires less irrigation.
  • It can be harvested throughout the year, except during the monsoon season.
  • Once sown, Rijka can be harvested for 3 to 5 years.
  • Consumption of Rijka increases the milk production capacity of animals.
  • Rijka contains 18-25% crude protein and 25-35% crude fiber.
  • Apart from cows and buffaloes, Rijka is also included in the diet of poultry and swine.
  • Due to its richness in various nutrients, it is beneficial for the health of animals.
  • Animals consume it with great relish due to its sweetness and delicious taste.
  • It is used both in fresh and dried forms as fodder for animals.
  • This crop is resilient to all seasons - winter, summer, and monsoon.
  • Being a leguminous crop, the requirement for nitrogen in the soil is less.

How to Cultivate Rijka?

  • Suitable Soil and Planting Time: Deep and loamy soil is most suitable for Rijka cultivation. Avoid cultivating it in saline soil or waterlogged areas. Additionally, acidic soil is not conducive to its growth. The ideal planting time for Rijka is October to November.
  • Seed Quantity and Treatment: Approximately 4-5 kilograms of seeds are required per acre of land. If cultivating Rijka for the first time in a field, seed treatment is necessary. Special types of microorganisms are essential for its development. You can obtain these microorganisms from the local agricultural service center or the Microbiology Department of Chaudhary Charan Singh Agriculture University. Then, prepare a solution by mixing 100 gm of jaggery in 500 ml of water. Add one packet of microorganisms to this solution and apply it like a paste on the seeds, covering them thoroughly. Dry the treated seeds in the shade.
  • Field Preparation: During field preparation, start by plowing or cultivating the field deeply 2 to 3 times using a plow or cultivator. Then, level the field using a rotavator. During field preparation, apply 22 kilograms of urea and 250 kilograms of single superphosphate per acre as a basal dose.
  • Sowing Method: Rijka seeds are tough. Therefore, soak the seeds in water for 6 to 8 hours before sowing. Then, lightly dry the seeds and sow them in rows at a distance of 11-12 inches. This makes harvesting easier.
  • Fertilizer Management: Every year, apply 50 quintals of cow dung manure or compost manure along with 312 kilograms of single superphosphate per acre in the field.
  • Irrigation Management: It is advisable to commence irrigation approximately 1 month after sowing the seeds. Subsequently, during the summer season, irrigation should be carried out at intervals of 10-15 days. In the winter season, irrigation should be done at intervals of 20-25 days. In spring, irrigation is typically should be done at intervals of 15 to 20 days. Conversely, during the rainy season, there may be no need for irrigation.
  • Disease and Pest Management: Like other crops, rijka is susceptible to various diseases and pests. These include diseases and pests such as downy mildew, rust disease, leaf spot disease, rijka weevil, and aphids.
  • Harvesting and Yield: The first harvest of the crop can be done approximately 50-60 days after sowing. Subsequent harvests can be carried out at intervals of 30-40 days. Each year, 8 to 10 harvests can be carried out, resulting in a yield of approximately 250 to 300 quintals of green fodder per acre. Dry fodder yield can range from about 55-60 quintals per acre annually. In the case of obtaining seeds, 180-250 kilograms per acre can be obtained.

Which crop do you cultivate to grow green fodder? Share your answer with us in the comments. For more information on animal nutrition and health, follow the 'Pashu Gyan' channel now. Additionally, don't forget to like and share this post to share this information with your fellow farmers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: When is rijka cultivated?

A: Rijka can be sown from October to the first week of December. But being a perennial crop, the harvesting, irrigation, and fertilizer management of the crops in the field are done in all seasons as per the requirement.

Q: Which green fodder is abundant in protein?

A: The leaves of Gliricidia sepium have higher protein content than other fodder crops. It contains about 25% to 30% crude protein. It is quite digestible for ruminant animals like buffalo and cows.

Q: Which is the best fodder for cows?

A: Napier grass is the best green fodder for cows. The amount of protein found in it ranges from 7 to 12 percent. This also increases the milk production capacity of cows. Apart from this, you can also include Berseem, Rijka, Sorghum, Azolla, Sudan Grass, Barley and Oats, Mustard, Peas, Guar, Cowpea, and Maize as green fodder for cows.

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