Fodder beet is highest biomass producing salt tolerant crop amongst all the arable fodder crops. This crop under salt affected lands can improve the socio-economic condition of small farmers on one hand through maximum production of nutrition rich winter fodder, and soil rejuvenation on the other where reclamation of these soils is not possible either due to shortage of good quality irrigation water or where water table is too high and cultivation of conventional winter crops is not profitable. The most important field of research for the benefit of farmers is the supply of healthy viable seeds at low price on sustainable basis at local level. For this purpose research on cultivation and seed production of fodder beet in Pakistan is of great concern as more than 6.8 Mha land is salt affected. For this purpose seed of fodder beet was imported from Netherlands and field trials at high altitude of Pakistan for seed production were planned and conducted in Distt. Swat in collaboration with ARS (N) Mingora & AZRC Quetta. We have successfully obtained fully mature and healthy viable fodder beet seeds at both the locations. The cultivation trials of fodder beet were also conducted at different research stations of the country with success.
Technology Development, Demonstration and Recommendation.
Experiments on fodder beet cultivation at Bio-saline Experimental Research Station Sadhuki (BERSS), Lahore, were conducted during 1991-97 on direct Vs transplantation; plant density; cutting Vs no cuttings ; fertilizer use efficiency ; use of organic and inorganic fertilizers for fodder beet production. Its cultivation with special emphasis on its compatibility/ comparison with other local winter fodders were conducted on salt affected soil at SCRI, Thatta Sindh. The result reported has shown that it has given maximum biomass compared to all other crops like clover, maize, oats etc. The brackish water use for its cultivation at Coastal Area Research Station (CARS), PARC Karachi has also given encouraging biomass and palatability report during 2003-04. Field trials at high altitude of Pakistan (NWFP & Balochestan) for seed production technology were conducted during 2003-06 and healthy viable seed has been produced ever for the 1st time in the country. The seeds were provided to all PARC coordinated Research stations in the provincial substations to test its feasibility toward production, potential and platability, digestibility etc by the animals. Fodder beet can safely be used as green fodder mixed with wheat or rice straw in areas of winter fodder leas period or as a silage round the year. So, it can provide a sound base for establishing the live stock industry in salt affected areas of Pakistan due to its rich proteinatious value (palatability, digestibility and low sugar content) and huge green foliage as well as maximum total biomass from these waste lands.
Fodder beet viable seed has been produced successfully at local level for farmers (at cheaper rates as compare to imported seed) having sizable salt affected lands to improve their socioeconomic conditions. This crop was grown successfully where no other conventional winter fodder could grow on waste land (salt affected, coastal belts etc.) and where brackish water is available. This crop can play a vital role in desalination process of the salt affected lands of Pakistan, which are more than 6.8 Mha. Seeds could be made available to farmers having sizable salt affected lands on demand.
Khan M. A., Z. Abdullah and J. Rozema. (2002). Fodder beet: A new fodder crop for salt affected lands of Pakistan. In Prospects for Saline Agriculture (eds. Ahmad. R and K. A. Malik) Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp.215-229.