'Fodder museum' comes to rescue of farmers

It has around 45 varieties of fodder grown on over 1.5 acre

'Fodder museum' comes to rescue of farmers

The Livestock Research & Information Center (LRIC), the research arm of the prestigious Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU), dedicated to preserve the iconic rare Deoni breed of cattle found in this geographical terrain, has come up with a novel concept of ‘fodder museum’.

The move aims at educating farmers on how easy it is to grow different varieties of green grasses using available resources.

Situated nearly 23 km from the headquarters at Kattitugaon village limits in Bhalki taluk off the State Highway No:1 connecting Bidar and Srirangapatna, LRIC is first-of-its-kind initiative. It has grown nearly 45 varieties of fodder on more than 1.5 acre land. A particular plot has been dedicated to each variety of grass.

The selected varieties of grass cultivated at the museum have been divided into five categories: Leguminous (protein source) which is meant for growth and health of livestock; Short Perennial (non-leguminous grass) with special drought resistance feature; Tall perennial (non-leguminous grass) with special feature of high yielding varieties; Seasonal (non-leguminous grass) which comes with a feature of cultivable in rainy season and on irrigated lands and fodder trees which provides nutritional quotient during the lean season grown utilising bunds of water bodies.

Before selecting the type of fodder, stress has been laid on to know whether it has adequate nutrition which can meet the dietary requirement of the livestock, particularly during the lean season when the availability of fodder is less. Itiis also seen whether it is suitable to be grown in local climatic condition i.e. whether it is drought resistant and can grow in lesser availability of water and whether it is high yielding variety.

45 varieties

Keeping all these parameters in mind, the officials at LRIC zeroed in on around 45 varieties. Major among them are Azolla (suitable for landless dairy farmers), Lucerne (highly nutritious), Para Grass (suitable for water-logged soil), Lavancha (controls soil erosion with medicinal value), Rhodes Grass and Cenchurus known as Anjan Grass (tolerates drought, grazing and also controls soil erosion), Hybrid Napier ‘Co4’ (tolerates water-logging), SAT Maize (fast growing also ideal for silage production), Sesbania, Drumstick which are highly nutritious and palatable, Mulberry which is good source of calcium.

In addition to these, varieties like Stylosanthes Hamata, Guinea Grass, Clitoria, Centrosema, fodder ground nut, lemon grass, Bracharia, Mulitcut Jowar, Giant Bajra, Sudex Chari, Spineless cactus, Glyricidia etc have been cultivated in the grass museum procuring seeds from Dharwad and other facilities.

Dream project

Elaborating on the concept, LRIC In-charge Officer Dr Vivek M Patil said that they decided to set up the museum taking cue from Indian Grassland & Fodder Research Institute at Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh and one developed at Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Dharwad. After nearly one year of experimentation, their dream project came true.

He said that every day, hundreds of farmers visit Veterinary University, Horticulture College and Krishi Vigyan Kendra to attend technical training and educative sessions or workshops. But the staff at the Centre used to find it tough to answer queries of farmers as it was difficult for them to locate particular variety of grass in the campus in a short span of time. Even farmers faced hardship as they couldn’t differentiate between the various varieties of fodder due to similar appearance. To address this issue, it was decided to grow a particular variety of grass carrying the name plate with details of type of grass and specifications on how to grow it. It came as handy. With this, it became easier for the staff at the Centre to tell farmers about fodder and the farmers to understand the concepts without wasting much time and energy.

Dr Patil said that they have spent around Rs 1.5 lakh to develop the grass museum and the funds have been sourced internally with available manpower at their disposal. LRIC is now selling the seeds to farmers as per need which will help them to increase their financial revenue, he said. “After setting up of the museum, the income of the Centre has gone up by five times”, Dr Patil added.

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