With fodder, plan now for rainy day

Materials to be used for silage production should have high levels of fermentable substrates and should also be in a physical form that allows compacting.

Maize is commonly used for silage production but there is a wide range of fodder that can be used, which include napier grass and fodder sorghum.

It can be planted through root cuttings or canes with at least three nodes and two nodes that should be covered with soil and in a slanting position.

Plant 4,000 canes of three internodes each per acre with spacing of 1x1m. It is expected to reach maturity in 5-6 months for first cutting depending on weather.

Varieties like Kakamega 1&2 have been reported to produce up to 20 tonnes dry matter per acre per year. It can also be used to make hay.

a) Common vetch is a short-term crop of high nutritive value, has a rapid growth rate, can be grown as a pure stand or a mixed stand with grasses or and with fodders like oats, barley and napier. It requires soils of neutral pH (6-7).

Plant spacing is 45cm and drilling is recommended. The seed rate is 5kg per acre in pure stand or 3kg per acre when intercropped with grasses and fodders. It reaches hay production stage at 120 days and produces 150-300 bales per acre.

b) Lucerne is a high-yielding, high-protein perennial plant that grows upright to about a metre. It has a productive life of 4-6 years and does well when not mixed with other plants. It is drought-resistant and prefers well-distributed rainfall of 870mm and above. The soils should be well-drained with a pH of 6-6.5.

It is propagated by use of seeds and planting is through drilling. It can also be broadcasted or sown at a depth of not more than 10cm.

The required seed rate is 6kg per acre with a spacing of 20x25cm. It reaches hay-making maturity at 4-5 months and produces 375-550 bales per acre per year with a cutting interval of 4-8 weeks.

Its crude protein content is improved by growing it mixed with vetch. The seed rate is 30-40kg per kilo per acre and can be planted by drilling or broadcasting with a spacing of 15cm.

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