A miracle manure crop

The Tanzanian variety of sunnhemp is superior to  the traditional Indian sunnhemp, both as manure and as fodder. The author offers 200g of  this remarkable variety to those interested.

Plant nutrition has become a  major problem in India..The  soaring  human population and  the demand for foodgrains have worsened the dependence of farmers on chemical fertilizers – which have  devastated soil health, polluted the environment, poisoned food and fodder and  lowered crop yields.

It is high time that we discovered  alternative plant nutrients.  Green manure  — obtained by growing some short-duration legumes – is one such alternative.   It  is  inexpensive too,  even for for small and marginal farmers.  Grow a  few perennial green manure crops like glyricida on the edges of a farm and on  un-cultivable areas around the farm. The plants can be used directly as green manure or as raw material for composting.

Sunnhemp and susbania  have for ages been grown as green manuring crops in India,  before the transplanting of  paddy and sugarcane.  The sunnhemp  grown traditionally in south India was Crotalaria junea. Luckily, I was able to get 10 gram of another variety of sunnhemp (Crotalaria ochrolenca) from Tanzania. It belongs to the family known as  “Macrostachyae”, and contains only a small amount of poison compared to the Indian sunnhemp. The Tanzanian variety  is not only a  better green fodder but also a better green manure crop, since it produces almost twice the amount of biomass.  Another plus point: when  grown with maize, it can be a very good deterrent  against the stem borer and against  insects when  dry seeds are stacked along with rice and maize. It can yield 12 to 15 tons of green manure or fodder per acre on average soils with just three rounds of  irrigation or three spells of  rain (2 cm).  It is a wonderful companion  crop to maize and red gram and helps  control pests.

To grow sunnhemp either as green manure or as fodder (for cattle,  goats and pigs), you need  six to eight  kilos of seeds.  To obtain seed-producing plants,  you need two  kilos of  seeds.  Apply 200 to  300 kilos  of  rock phosphate fertilizer per acre to get  nutritive green manure. Do so just before  pod formation  – that ensures early decomposition and better manure. Carry out a  similar exercise for use oif sunnhemp as good-quality fodder. From the date of sowing, it takes about 110 days to obtain  fodder and green manure and 200 days to get seeds.  You. can harvest almost 100 kilos of seeds from an acre.

I have been growing the Tanzanian variety of  sunnhemp for  the past eight years,  at  least once after every two crops. It can serve as ground cover for coconut, coffee, arecanut, guava and chickoo orchards.  Since it is cut at  a height of ½ meter  from the soil,  it is possible to get even a third  cutting and use it as  mulch and manure. The amount of atmospheric nitrogen it can fix on your land is unbelievable.

I offer those interested 200 grams of seeds  of this remarkable sunnhemp variety for multiplication. I hope farmers, NGOs, and agriculture departments and universities take up my offer and  popularise this multipurpose miracle crop, thereby  reducing the  dependence of  farmers on chemical fertilizers.

 L.Narayana Reddy, Srinivasapura Vai Maralenhalli, Hanabe P.O

Doddaballapur Taluk. PIN 561203, India.

 About the Author:  Narayana Reddy, 65, is a much-decorated Indian farmer. He  has won several Karnataka state and national awards for excellence in agriculture. He is a committed organic farmer and grows only organic crops in 10 acres of land in his Karnataka village.

Recently Published Articles

Women-led farm initiatives

Women-led farm initiatives

By using organic farming methods, developing connections with markets, generating income, and enhancing their own...


Call for articles

Share your valuable experience too

Share This