Lucerne also known as "alfalfa" or "rijka" in northen India is a protein rich fodder and considered as "queen of fodder crop"
It is a legume fodder in which nutrients, vitamins, calcium and phosphorus are found in abundance. This crop provides green fodder throughout the year and once cultivated, green fodder can be obtained for many years. Like berseem, this crop of fodder also increases the fertility of the soil by getting nitrogen from the air. Compared to other rabi fodders such as berseem and oats, this crop is also hardy and can tolerate severe cold, frost and extreme heat. This fodder has special importance for the animals. Mixed with other fodder, it is useful for milk and meat-bearing cattle. About 8% of the total area of rabi fodder, lucerne is cultivated.
Production and types:
The approved types of Research Institute of Fodder Sargodha are capable of full production of green fodder i-e Green, Nemat and Sargodha Lucerne 2002. Lucerne variety “Nemat’’ is also suitable for cultivation in the Saline land. On an average, about 1000 maund per acre of green fodder is obtained from all fodder cuttings throughout the year from Lucerne, while seed production can be taken about 3 to 5 maund per acre in favorable weather conditions.
Use 4 to 6 kg seeds per acre through drill or kera and 6 to 8 kg per acre in case of broadcast. Seeds should be pure, clean and healthy. Poor seeds are reddish brown in color while standard seeds are yellow in color
This crop is capable of adapting to all types of climate. Semi-arid areas are very suitable for this crop and in such areas this crop can be successfully cultivated on all types of land. Lucerne irrigated crop is very successful in dry areas. Humid climate is not useful for this crop. Lucerne crop cannot maintain its biennial status in high rainfall areas because there is more weeds and grasses. This plant likes sunlight, so rain and clouds are harmful for it in winter.
Land and its Preparation:
Fertile loamy soil with better drainage, which is rich in calcium, is best suited for lucerne crop. Saline and Sodic land is not suitable. Since the lucerne crop gives fodder for 6 to 7 years, full attention is taken to its preparation. Once, plough the Mould Board and plough 4 to 5 times, make the soil soft and porous. It is very important for the field to be levelled, so it is better to level the land with a laser land leveler.
Method of cultivation:
For better fodder production and pure seed acquisition and better eradication of weeds, cultivate it in rows in the well-prepared land through single row drill or small seeded drill. Remember that seeds should not go too deep in the ground, otherwise the germination will be affected. The distance of the lines should be 1 to 1.5 feet for the fodder crop, while the distance of the lines should be 1.5 feet in the crop cultivated for seeds. Seeds can also be broadcasted in stagnant water for fodder.
Time to cultivate:
The best sowing time for Lucerne is 15 October to 15 November. In early sowing, the growth of the crop is higher than in the late sowing and good yield is obtained. In view of the changing weather conditions, suitable changes can be made in the timing of cultivation. Lucerne can be sown by the month of February to get seeds.
This disease is caused by a fungus Sclerotinia trifoliorum. Due to this disease, the fungus like white cotton appears on the lower part of the plant stems, causing the plants to begin to rot and eventually wither. This disease is seen in the form of patches in the field and the attack of this disease is usually seen in January, February. To prevent this, plough deep at the time of preparing the land, level the land, keep the seed rate low and avoid applying too much irrigation. After harvesting, spray the Difenoconazole 1 ml per liter of water or sulfur 2 grams per liter of water.
This disease is caused by a Phytophthora megasperma. In case of an attack of this disease, sunken spots form on the lower part of the plant's stem. The stem from the affected part rots and turns black. Plants wither and dry up. Keep the fields levelled to protect the crop from disease so that water does not stand in low areas. Avoid applying too much water. In the field where this disease is found, after harvesting, spray Cymoxanil + Mancozeb by mixing 2 grams per liter of water or Chloranil + Metalaxyl-M by mixing it 2 ml per liter of water. Do not cultivate lucerne in the affected field for 3 to 4 years.
This disease is caused by a fungus Colletotrichum trifolii. In case of an attack of this disease, dark brown oval-shaped spots are formed on the leaves and stems. In the case of a severe attack of the disease, the stems rots and the plants wither.
Since the lucerne crop is perennial, Therefore, if grass and weeds grow in it, the cultivated crop should be ploughed in rows before leaving the crop for seeds. The crop of lucerne seeds is damaged by khabal grass and okash vine. Spray Quizalofop 350 to 400 ml per acre for khabal grass. To prevent Itsit, spray Pendimethalin 1.5 liters per acre one month before cultivation, and irrigate. In order to control weeds in the growing crop, spray appropriate chemical in consultation with the extension and pest warning staff of the Department of Agriculture to ensure to obtain pure quality and weed-free seeds. Recommended herbicides can be used for Jungali halloon, coriander booti and Jungali Palak.
Apply the first irrigation to the crop 3 weeks after sowing and then the remaining irrigation as per needed. The roots of this crop go deep in the ground and thus this crop tolerates the lack of irrigation. It does not need irrigation during the rainy season. It usually requires 1 irrigation per cutting and 2 in relatively dry areas. In summer, the fodder crop should be irrigated 15 to 20 days after every cutting.
Follow the instructions given with regard to Berseem to fertilizer in Lucerne.
Use of fertilizers:
It is necessary to get the soil analysis to accurately determine the amount of fertilizer. However, in the absence of analysis, use fertilizers in the average fertile land as recommended in the following table.
Nutrients (Kg per Acre)
Quantity of fertilizer (bags per acre) at time of sowing
1.5 bags DAP + half bag Urea + half bag SOP or
2 bags Nitrophos + 1.5 bags SSP (18%) + half bag SOP or
4 bags SSP (18%) + 1 bag Urea + half bag SOP or 1 bag Nitrophos + 1 bag calcium ammonium nitrate + 3 bags SSP (18%) + Half bag SOP
Note: Nitrogen fertilizer can be used after each cutting of fodder according to the condition of the crop. Also reuse the amount of fertilizer used at the time of sowing in October every year.
In order to get seeds from the lucerne crop, its harvesting should be stopped from mid-March to late March. If seeds are to be taken from the crop cultivated on large area, then keeping beehives (boxes) near the field will improve the process of pollination and cause a significant increase in seed production. Lucerne seed crop should be harvested very carefully when fully ripe. After harvesting the seed crop, irrigation in the field resumes its growth. Since lucerne seeds are very valuable, special care should be taken to its harvesting, threshing and handling. The crop should not be cut unripen at all, because this will yield poor seeds. Harvesting should be done in the morning so that seed-filled buds fall at least in the field and there is no seed loss. It should be much better if the seed crop cultivated on large area is harvested with combine harvesters. Otherwise, cut the crop and tie bundles of appropriate size and leave it in the field and thresh with thresher when dry. An iron mesh can be used to clean the seeds.