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close this bookRegenerative Agriculture Technologies for the Hill Farmers of Nepal: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1992, 210 p.)
close this folderLivestock and fodder
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View the documentGrasses and Fodder Trees for Terrace Risers
View the documentNB-21 Grass on Terrace Risers and Bunds
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NB-21 Grass on Terrace Risers and Bunds


Figure

NB-21 grass is a cross between Napier (Pennisetum purpureum) and Bajra (Pennisetum typhoides L.) and is one of several Napier-Bajra crosses. The name is derived from the first initials of the two plants. It is a perennial grass which can produce and be frequently harvested for more than 3 - 4 years. The grass prefers the moist soils of the midhills and can be propagated vegetatively using sets and slips. Green fodder can be produced throughout the year except under drought conditions during dry winter and summer months. It is not susceptible to severe pest or disease attack.

Terrace risers and bunds, often underutilized farm areas, can be planted to NB-21. Since NB-21 is a low-growing grass, it will not shade other field crops. The risers and bunds will be stabilized and quality fodder, well-liked by animals, can be produced.

NURSERY PRACTICES

Home nurseries should be established during January and early February. Plant young slips in nurseries during February-March in rows at 6 inch distances and at a depth of about 6 inches. All other nursery practices are the same as for fodder or fruit tree seedlings. Each slip produces about 10 new slips ready for transplanting by June or July.

PLANTING TIME AND METHODS

Either slips or sets are planted during the monsoon. Slips are generally planted by the farmers. Slips are produced by splitting established slips (about one year old). Sets are produced by cutting plant stems of mature plants (between 1-2 years old). Young slips from the nursery are split from the mother slip for transplanting at 5 months. Each set should have at least three nodes. Plant two slips or sets in one hill at a distance of 1.5 - 2 feet depending upon soil fertility, irrigation facility or elevation (closer at low fertility, low moisture and high altitude). When using sets, two nodes are buried in the soil at a slant (neither fully horizontal nor vertical). When using slips, the roots are buried at a depth of 6 inches or more.


Planting time and methods

Depending upon soil moisture and fertility, elevation and slope, one slip or set can produce 15-25 tillers in a period of one to two years. If planted on terrace risers, do not slash, i.e., do not clean with a spade. Soil around the slip or set should be loose; generally, manuring is not done. A relatively flat site is better than a steep slope.

CULTURAL PRACTICES VERSUS YIELD

A thick, mature stem can cause decreases in fodder yield. Plant height at harvesting depends on soil fertility and soil moisture. It should be harvested frequently (when the stems reach a height of about 2 ft.) to ensure that the stems are not woody and will be readily eaten by animals. The cutting interval depends on many factors. Generally, in the wet season, harvesting can be done at 15-30 day intervals; in the dry season (winter), cutting is done at 30 60 day intervals. Cutting the grass at the soil surface facilitates better growth. Fodder yield gradually decreases after 4-5 years. A yield of 10-20 hills is generally enough to feed one animal (depending upon the number of tillers and growth).

Soil moisture is one of the important limiting factors for the growth of NB-21. It neither withstands drought nor waterlogging; moist soil is most favourable. If possible, irrigate the plants in dry winter or spring months to stimulate fast growth. If the soil is dry, yield is reduced from January through midJune.

SOURCES OF SLIPS/SETS

Action Aid/Nepal and World Neighbors Nepal Agroforestry Foundation-supported NGOs, such as Boudha Bahunipati Project (BBP), Nonformal Education Service Center (NFESC), Tamakosi Sewa Samiti (TSS) and Integrated Development System (IDSS).