Cumbu Napier Hybrid a.k.a Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) is used as a cattle fodder and can be grown throughout the year. It is also goes by the name elephant grass. It is also known to protect the soil from erosion and help in improvement of soil fertility. The plant propagates through Stolons.

Advantages:

  1. Low maintenance

  2. Easy to plant and grow

  3. No requirement for repeated plantation

  4. Low water requirement (semi-arid land tolerant)

  5. Low labour requirement (only for initial plantation)

  6. Post-harvest processing options (fermented feed, dried fodder etc.)

  • The grass has a very high nitrogen requirement.

  • Using organic manures or even cow dung mixed with small quantities of urea goes a long way in maintaining soil nutrient capacity.

  • Manures such as dried cow dung improves soil water retention capacity and reduces continuous irrigation requirement.

  • Manures containing Azospirillum help in nitrogen fixation and boost crop productivity.

  • manure formula: Poultry Manure 44 t/ha+2 kg Azospirillum+2 kg phosphobacteria if production is to be carried out on large scale and commercially.

Practical advice

Preparation of soil For cultivation of CO4 variety, one requires a well tilled land that is properly mixed with nutrients. Tough ground makes it difficult for grass to grow below the soil and brings the roots outwards. As a result the base is very fragile and as the plant grows, rots cannot support the balance. It is recommended that the land is tilled properly, followed by sprinkling of manure (cow dung slurry) and re-tilling to allow the manure to mix. It would be ideal if the above mentioned manure formula is used for the first time. After allowing the tilled land to mature a little, it is time to dig trenches, each one almost 1 feet apart from the other. This allows the grass to grow sideways and allows pipelines to be laid easily.

Plantation For plantation, consider planting the seeds a little deeper into the soil. With each harvest (cutting) the roots tend to grow outwards. If the practice is not followed, one will have to perform plantation again after a first few harvests which is both tedious and labour intensive. The rest of the story will be explained in a diagram below.

Irrigation While drip irrigation is a great method of irrigation, one can consider Butterfly Sprinklers as a sustainable option. These can be either fixed into their positions or can be mad movable with the support of stands. It is appropriate to go for movable option. We observed that fixed butterfly sprinklers cause a great deal of obstruction during harvesting. These also get damages during harvesting.

Harvesting The grass grows to a height of 2 - 4 m depending on the quality of soil, nutrient supply, water supply etc. Do not allow it to grow for too long. Longer growth periods harden the lower stem and make it difficult to cut even with a brush cutter.

While harvesting, the grass should be cut as near as possible to the root. Longer shoot cut-outs result in unwanted spread of the grass (sideways). Longer shoots grow root on the sides and make the entire plant unstable.

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