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ICAR Comesup with a High Yielding Fodder Beet for Arid Region

Aiswarya R Nair
Aiswarya R Nair

For the farmers in arid regions, finding a green fodder for the livestock is challenging due to the harsh and unpredictable environment in the region. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research's Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, Rajasthan has come up with a new fodder crop, Fodder Beet, a plant that produces tubers of an average weight of 5 to 6 kgs. 

The crop has the potential to produce more than 200 tonnes per hectare in four months. Fodder Beet can be grown very profitably with poor quality of water as well as soil. 

The cost of production is less than 50 paise per kilogram of biomass produced. The crop has a very high water use efficiency of 28-32 kg green biomass per cubic metres of water. 

According to reports, the feeding trials on Tharparkar cattle have shown 8 to 10 per cent improvement in milk yield. 

Between January and April when there is meagre availability of other fodder crops, this crop is also available extensively. 

The crop was demonstrated to nearly 600 farmers of which many are in Rajasthan. The demonstration was done through Corporate Social Responsibility Programme with CAIRN energy, KVKs, NGOs, State Agricultural Universities, Veterinary Universities and State Government. 

Positive feedback has also been given by the farmers of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh. 

For higher production, the loamy soils are best, but it can also be grown on salt-affected soils also. The crop requires a fine seedbed and should be planted on ridges. The field needs to be ploughed 3 to 4 times a week before sowing. A bund former at a distance of 70 cm should be prepared for sowing. 

The important varieties are Jomon, Monroe, JK Kuber and Geronimo.  

The first irrigation should be applied immediately after sowing. If crusting occurs, light irrigation should be given just after 4 days of sowing. After the first irrigation rest can be done at an average interval of 10 days until April. 

The fodder beet can profitably grow with saline and alkaline water. It should be done along with hand weeding and earthing up operations. If required, the second weeding should be done after 15 days. 

According to reports, no major diseases and pests are reported. However, to control soil-borne insects, apply Quinalphos powder (1.5 per cent) at the rate of 25 kg per hectare before sowing. 

During mid-January, when the root attains a minimum weight of about 1.0 to 1.5 kg, the uprooting can be started when. Accordingly, the farmers can uproot every day as per the requirement of feed for their cattle.  

The roots of the crop can be chopped into small pieces and mixed with dry fodder. It should not exceed 60 per cent of the total dry matter requirement of the animal. Excess feeding may cause acidity in the animal. 

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