Forage crops, also known as fodder crops, are specifically grown to provide food for livestock. These crops are typically grown for their leaves and stems which are used as animal feed. They are normally fed by the livestock animals by grazing or in the form of harvested hay or silage. The timing of both grazing events and the cutting for hay or silage are critical to ensuring that the quality and quantity of conserved fodder are optimized. These crops are grown for their high protein content, digestibility and palatability, which are essential for the health and productivity of livestock. Properly fed animals are less prone to diseases and infections and their milk and meat production can increase significantly.
They can be grown as a monocrop or as mixed crop along with wheat or legumes or as cover crop depending on the intended use. Forage crops are an essential component of agriculture, providing a reliable and cost-effective source of animal feed. They are also important for sustainable agriculture, as they can help improve soil health and reduce erosion. Additionally, many forage crops have other uses, such as in biofuels, food or fiber production.
Commonly cultivated fodder/forage crops
- Legumes: Cowpea, Lucerne
- Cereal fodder: Fodder maize, Fodder sorghum, Pearl millet
- Grass fodder: Napier, Guinea grass, Para grass, Blue buffel grass
- Tree fodder: Sesbania, Gliricidia
Types of Forage Crops
Fodder/Forage crops can be classified into two main categories: Annual and Perennial.
- Annual Forage crops: These crops are grown for a single growing season and are generally sown in the summer or monsoon season. Fodder maize, fodder sorghum and millets fall under this category.
- Perennial Forage crops: Unlike annual crops, perennial forage crops can persist for several years, regrowing after each harvest, thus making them a more sustainable and long-term source of feed for livestock. Lucerne and grasses fall under this category.
Importance of Forage crops in Agriculture
- Forage crops provide nutrients and high-quality feed for livestock, supporting the health and productivity of animals. Increased productivity of milk and meat contributes to agricultural production.
- They help to improve soil fertility and structure, reduce soil erosion and enhance water retention capacity.
- Many forage crops are drought-tolerant and can continue to grow even in the absence of rainfall, making them ideal for areas with limited water resources.
- They can be used as part of a crop rotation system, which helps to break disease cycles and reduce soil-borne pests.
- They provide a valuable source of income for farmers by selling them as hay or silage which can be stored and sold throughout the year.
- Forage crops play an important role in carbon sequestration. These crops have deep and extensive root systems that can penetrate into the soil and store carbon. It contributes to soil organic matter, thus reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.
- These crops help to improve biodiversity by providing a diverse range of habitats for beneficial insects, birds and soil microorganisms.
- Forage crops are an important component of sustainable agriculture, helping to promote biodiversity, reduce chemical inputs and maintain soil health over the long term
Buy these fast-selling forage crop’s seeds from BigHaat
|Features of the product
|Fat Boy (Multi-cut Forage Sorghum)
|Honey Pot (BMR Sweet Sorghum) Forage
|Max-Pro (Lucerne) Forage
NOTE: To know more about the fodder’s cultivation practices, seed rate, harvesting and cutting timings and more details, check the product’s description.
Forage crops play a vital role in sustainable agriculture by providing a source of high-quality livestock feed, improving soil health, increasing biodiversity and supporting the long-term productivity of farming systems. Forage crops can be an important tool for producers, provided the right crop is selected, right management practice is taken to ensure that the crop is fully utilized in its most productive and nutritious phases of growth. Forage crops are vulnerable to pests and diseases which must be managed to minimize their impact on productivity. Proper harvesting and cutting can improve forage quality, yield and nutritional value, while also promoting regrowth and sustainable forage production. Government of India has launched several initiatives to promote the cultivation of high-quality fodder crops, such as the National Livestock Mission and Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.