Cultivation of Berseem ; A complete Information Guide

Cultivation of Berseem ; A complete Information Guide

Berseem or Egyptian clover (Trifolium alexandrinum L.) is popularly known as the King of fodder crops for the irrigated condition of Northern India because It is available for 6-7 month from November to May, give 4 to 6 cuts during winter, spring, and early summer seasons and provides nutrition, succulent and palatable forage, milch animals yielding up to liters of milk can be maintained with a little supplement of concentrate mixture. 

The green forage can also be converted into excellent hay and utilized for the enrichment of poor-quality roughages like kadbis and straw.
Besides, Berseem has got soil-building characteristics and improves the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the soil resulting in better growth and yield of crops in rotation. Thus, the crop is very important from the viewpoint of conservation framing and important and imparts sustainability to soil productivity and the crop production system as a whole.

Climatic Requirements for Berseem cultivation;

Berseem is adapted to a dry cool and moderately cold climate. Berseem is not sown unless the average daily temperature is 13  to 15 degrees celsius. The optimum temperature at the time of sowing berseem is 25 degrees celsius. For Iuxuriant vegetative growth temperature range of 25 to 27degree celsius has been found ideal. The uniformly high temperature in south Indian conditions limits the cultivation of berseem. 

Soil Requirement for Barseem Cultivation;

Well-drained clay to clay loam soils rich in humus, calcium, and phosphorus are suitable for a good crop of berseem. However, it can be grown on sandy loam soil but requires frequent irrigation. Comparatively heavy textured soils are considered better due to greater water-retaining capacity and congenial edaphic environments for crop persistency. 

Field Preparation for Berseem Cultivation;

As the seeds of berseem are very small and fine therefore a well pulverized and leveled seedbed is very important. It will ensure good contact of seed with the soil and help in better germination. A good seedbed can be prepare by ploughing the field with mouldboard plough or disc plough followed by 3 to 4 harrowing and planking to break all the soil clods, Field should be rendered weeds-free.

Important Varieties of Barseem ;

BL–1, BL -10, BL-42, BL -43, BL-180, Mescavi, Hisar Berseem-1, Jawahar Berseem-5, Wardan, JB-1.

Crop Rotation and Mixed Cropping ; 

Berseem can be grown in rotation with almost all the grain or Forage Crop; The common rotation areas follows-
a) Maize – Berseem-Cowpea.
b) Jowar– Berseem – Maize.
c) Paddy – Berseem – Cowpea
d) Cotton -Berseem
e) Bajra-berseem – Maize+ Cowpea
f) Napier Grass– incorporated with Berseem.
g) Napier + Berseem+Cowpea
h) Teosinte- Berseem- Maize + Cowpea

Seed & Sowing of Berseem Crop;

A)Seed cleaning:

Usually, Kasani (Chicorium intybus) seed is found admixed with berseem seed. Since the size of chicory, seed resembles with berseem seed; it becomes difficult to separate them by ordinary methods. However, the seed of the berseem is oval while the seed is conical. To remove chicory seeds, a 10% common salt solution is used. The chicory seeds being lighter in weight than berseem seeds float on the surface while berseem seeds settle down at the bottom of the container. In this way, chicory seeds may be drained off and berseem seed collected.

B)Seed inoculation:
Being a leguminous crop, berseem enriches the soil with sizeable quantities of nitrogen through symbiotic nitrogen fixation with the help of Rhizobium bacteria. Therefore, berseem seed should be inoculated with a culture of Rhizobium trifollii to enhance the process of biological nitrogen fixation in root nodules especially in soils where berseem is being grown for the first time 
C)Seed rate:
Under normal conditions, the optimum seed rate of berseem has been found to be 25 kg/ha. When the sowing is taken up earlier than the appropriate time, the quantity of seed used is increased by 15to20%to to compensate for the loss of seedling mortality occurring due to prevailing high atmospheric temperature. 
D)Sowing time:
Sowing time is an important factor governing germination, seedling survival, number of cuts, and herbage production. Berseem should be sown when the temperature is in the range of 25-27degree celsius. Thus, the optimum sowing time of berseem in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh (the bowl cultivation) is the entire month of October
In Bengal and Gujarat, sowing is taken up only in the month of November. Sowing can continue up to the first week of December in the eastern region. Delayed sowing results in loss or one of two cuttings. Timely sowing extends the period of forage availability and thereby increases the total yield.
E) Sowing method:
There are two methods of berseem sowing ;
1) Dry Bed Method; Seeds are broadcast, Mixed, and covered with 0.5 -1 cm fine soil cover. There should be sufficient moisture in the field the seedling will germinate within 15 days of sowing. The irrigation should be given after proper germination of the field.
2) Wet Bed Method; Beds of convenient size are prepared and seeds are sown by broadcast after flooding seedbed with 4-5 cms of water. Before sowing seeds, the water in the beds should be stirred thoroughly to make a soil-water suspension with the help of a puddler or By Planking in the water. This would help in a proper seed setting.

Fertilizer Requirement in Berseem Cultivation :

In irrigated farming, fertilizer use is the most important factor influencing the growth and productivity of the crops. Since berseem is a leguminous crop, it needs less nitrogen from fertilizer sources, because, its root nodules contain Rhizobium trifolii bacteria which fix atmospheric nitrogen for plant use. Therefore, fertilizer nitrogen is required only for establishment prior to the formation of root nodules. 
Apply 20kg N/ha at sowing is the optimum dose. When the crop is raised on poor soils without inoculums, top dressing of 10 kg N/ha is done after each cut in addition to 30 kg N/ha basal dose to encourage good regeneration, quick growth, and high yield. In general, the responses to applied phosphorus vary widely with available soil phosphorus, soil pH, phosphate sources, application method, water supply, and crop duration. The placement of P in the vicinity of the root zone is desirable to reduce its fixation and to increase availability to a young seedling. Placement of P has been found superior to broadcast in terms of forage yield and P uptake. In general, the crop responds significantly up to 80-90 kg P2O5/ha. As the requirement of P is especially critical at initial crop stage, basal application proved better than top dressing. The potassium requirement of berseem has been found to be 30 to 40 kg K2O/ha in low potassium soils. 

Irrigation management in Berseem Cultivation ;

Berseem requires huge quantities of water for producing high succulent biomass. For every kilogram of plant dry matter produced as much as 500 kilograms of more or water may be necessary for a dry climate. Therefore, adequate and timely water supply is one the basic inputs for obtaining potential crop yield which necessitates precise knowledge of irrigation techniques and approaches in the berseem crops. Apply first irrigation, within 3 to 5 days in light soil and 6-8 days in heavy soils. The remaining irrigation should be applied at 8-10 days intervals in summer and 10-15 days during winter.

Weed management in Berseem Crop ;

Weed management is one of the vital components of berseem production. The major associated weed of the berseem crop is chicory (Chicorium intybus). The nature of this weed is such that it infests from field to seed and vice-versa. The intensity of field infestations could be minimized by treatment with a 10% solution of common salt and deep summer ploughing with soil inversion plough after the final harvest of the crop. 

Disease management in Berseem;

During the month of December and January when the crop attains luxuriant vegetative growth and cloudy days persist for a longer period, the heavy infestation of fungal diseases such as root rot caused by Rhizoctenia soloni and Fusanlum smitactum and stem rot caused by sclerotinia trifoliorum occur. If the crop is cut the fungal growth in patches can easily be seen. As rotten stubbles. It has been observed that the problem is more acute under the following situation:
1) Field is heavily manured with undecomposed farmyard manure and/or irrigated with sewage.
2) Water stagnated creation damp conditions.
3) Light penetration at the ground is curtailed due to delayed cutting.
4) Cloudy condition prevails for a longer period.
Agronomic approaches to solving this problem include.
1) Avoiding the growing of berseem crop in the same field year after year and deep ploughing during summer.
2) Using well rotten manure in proper quantities.
Fertilizing the crop with a heavy dose of potassium.
3) Leveling the field properly to avoid water stagnation.
4) Avoiding too frequent irrigations during cloudy days.
5) Cutting the crop frequently to expose the ground for adequate light availability.

Harvesting & Threshing Berseem Crop;

Forage quality:

1) Berseem is highly nutritious, succulent, and palatable forage for all types of livestock.

2) It stimulates the milk production of cows and buffaloes and is popular both for milch and draught animals.
3) Berseem is a good source of crude protein, calcium, phosphorus, and ether extract. 
4)The green forage of berseem on a dry-matter basis contains 17-22% CP, 42-49% neutral detergent fiber, 35-38% acid detergent fiber 24-25% cellulose, and 7-10% hemicellulose. 

The yield of Berseem Crop;

The forge yield potential of the berseem crop is very high. The crop is capable of producing 1000 to 1200 q/ha of green forage under improved agronomic management practices and favorable weather conditions. Mixing Japan rape or Chines cabbage 2.25 kg seed/ha increases the yield by 20-25 percent in the first cut. The yield may further be increased by introducing early cutting.

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