LEGUMINOUS TROPICAL PASTURE AND FEED CROPS
A wide variety of plants can be used as pasture and feed crops in the
tropics. Over the years a limited number have become of great
importance because of their adaptation, ease of growth, high yields, and
nutritional value. Most of these are either grasses or legumes. Most of
the grasses are highly suitable for permanent pastures, although a few
are usually cut and carried to the animals. Unfortunately, there are few
legume and grass combinations that are compatible in pastures of the
tropics; however, we have recently added several new legumes suitable
for mixed pastures and are eager to hear how they grow in various areas.
In the case of a leucaena and grass as a combination, an appropriate
diet consists of 1/3 leucaena to 2/3 grass. Some of the legumes in our
seed bank are trees. During drought or in arid areas, tree leaves are
sometimes the only feed available. We have a general Technical Note on
Click on scientific names below to order seeds from the ECHO Seed Catalog.
Aeschynomene | Alfalfa | Beach Bean | Centrosema | Clover | Cowpea | Desmanthus | Desmodium | Flemingia | Forage Peanut | Glycine | Hairy Indigo | Hairy Vetch | Jack Bean | Lablab Bean | Leucaena | Roundleaf Cassia | Siratro | Stylosanthes | Velvet Bean
Aeschynomene MS, LL, RF
Short-lived perennial for wetland areas, >1000 mm annual rainfall,
including low-lying ditches with seasonal flooding; regenerates well in
pastures, early growth is slow; also used as green manure; high in
A. americana, American Jointvetch:
green manure, forage; good for low areas or drainage ditches; >1000
mm annual rainfall; can be grown successfully between the latitudes of
30 degrees north and south of the equator. It is normally grown at low
elevations but has been found at altitudes up to 2200 feet (670m.) A. evenia, Aeschynomene [Evenia]:
slightly more woody than A. americana, but also offers more forage and
reseeding; did well in some trials in Haiti; cattle will readily graze
on this short-lived, perennial legume; tolerates waterlogging; Little
fertilization is needed. top
Forage Peanut/Perennial Peanut MS, LL,RF,H
Amarillo: High-quality productive legume for forage
and orchard ground cover, suited to over 100mm rain in tropics or
subtropics. Can be planted and grown year-round if the soil has adequate
moisture, warm temperatures and is not fertilized heavily. Registered
variety. ECHO distributes only small quantities free for
experimentation. Commercial source available on request. Cuttings are
best means of propagation, but available only to those who visit ECHO.
The regions suitable for centurion normally possess a distinct dry
period of 4-6 months duration and receive less then 40 inches (1000 mm).
A fast growing, relatively palatable, nutritious forage species;
prostrate annual legume for seasonally dry tropics; extremely
drought-tolerant; survives seasonal flooding; wide soil tolerance, pH
5-8.5, sand to heavy clay; requires high temperatures during growing
A short-lived perennial legume that is native to Florida and the
Americas. It establishes quickly in sandy, infertile soils in the
tropics and subtropics. Heavy seeding and a good nitrogen-fixing pasture
crop. Spreads rapidly, even under heavy grazing because of its
prostrate growth habit.
A pasture crop that needs higher rainfall to survive. This species is
not drought tolerant. During establishment desmodium needs cultivation
to prevent other weedy/grass species from out competing.
Desmodium intortum, Greenleaf: perennial
legume which grows well in cool temperatures; frost susceptible;
produces seed during short days; tolerates acidic conditions and poorly
drained soils; not suitable for areas with less than 890 mm rain; does
not compete well with more vigorous grasses nor can it survive heavy
grazing until its long taproot and stolons have become well established.
highly preferred for SALT
(Sloping Agricultural Land Technology) technique in Philippines; used
most often as a fodder tree in a system of hedgerows and alley cropping.
As a legume, it produces nitrogen-rich foliage; grows in a variety of
well-drained soils. LL, RF, H Desmodium heterocarpon:
Perennial legume, grow with common permanent grasses for high quality
pasture. Not for routinely dry locations. A valuable crop because of its
aggressive nature. LL, RF top
Wild Hops (Flemingia) H, MS, LL
A woody, leguminous, deep-rooted shrub native to Asia, but now found
in Sub-Saharan Africa and Malaysia. Useful in erosion control, for
shade or shelter and for soil improvement. Wild hop leaves are slow to
decompose and are an effective weed suppressant. Can also be used for
fuelwood or fodder. Dried pods produce a powder that is used as an
orange dye for silks. Roots used for medicinal purposes against ulcers
and swelling. Sol pH: 4.6-7.5.
A source of livestock fodder or browse; foliage also is eaten by humans in salads and soups or cooked as a vegetable; shade tree, also is planted as a windbreak or as hedges and living fences; retards soil erosion losses and rejuvenates soil water-holding capacity; a good choice for paper pulp and fuel wood uses.
Can survive on less then 600mm and more than 2000mm annual rainfall.
Performs best on sites receiving 1500 mm annual rainfall and that has
soil with pH 6.0-7.5. Moderate drought tolerance; fast growth; coppices
well; leaves used as fodder supplement in small amounts only;
potentially weedy. There are three basic types of L. leucocephala trees:
Hawaiian, Salvador, and Peru.
The Hawaiian type is short and bushy; its yield of wood and foliage is low compared to the other two types. The Salvador type (Hawaiian giant) is tall and tree-like;? can grow 60 ft. in height in five years. The Peru type is tall with extensive branching; trees are good for forage.
K6: Peru type.
K8: Salvador type.
Deep-rooted perennial; 760-1780 mm annual rainfall; withstands heat
and drought on wide range of soils; establishes quickly; withstands
heavy grazing; seed viable in soil up to 5 years; fixes nitrogen
sufficiently to boost growth of other grasses; serves as food for
Varies in height from 0.6-1 m (2-3 ft); drought-tolerant (as little
as 20”or 510 mm of rainfall per year); with a long taproot; sensitive to
soil acidity, needs pH > 6.5 for high yields; tolerant of light
frosts, requires soil that is well drained and rich in nutrients.
AmeriStand 403T: Ameristand 403T is an extremely high yielding traffic tolerant Alfalfa. 403T is best suited for cool climate areas. Alfalfa should be planted at a rate of 15 to 20 lbs per acre. In trials in the US AmeriStand 403T demonstrated exceptional yield and yield persistence over other varieties.
Ameristand 803T This variety is well adapted to the Southern United States. Ameristand 803T Alfalfa Seed has excellent resistance to pest and traffic and produces high yields for pasture grazing and hay production. Alfalfa seed is commonly planted for pasture grazing, hay production and wildlife food plots in the Southern warm season zone. Non-dormancy rating of 8.3top
Perennial vining legume; 760-1525 mm annual rainfall; requires
moderately fertile soil with good drainage; does not tolerate acidic
soils or waterlogging; thrives in warm tropical regions having an
average temperature of 30C or higher; high nitrogen production; often
intercropped with grasses; a cover crop to suppress weed growth and
improve soil nitrogen supply. It is a useful erosion control species;
can be slow to establish. Beneficial to inoculate with rhizobium before
: Early flowering; vigorous; drought-resistant.
: Slower to establish; withstands heavy grazing and harsh weather conditions; tolerates poor soils.
A perennial herb that is most commonly grown as a leguminous pasture
crop. Stylo can also be used as erosion control and will add nitrogen to
the soil. This is an adaptable pasture crop for the tropics. It
establishes easily although not much growth will occur until the second
season. Needs to be inoculated with rhizobium so nitrogen fixing process
can be initiated.
Common stylo: This species is slow growing for the
first 6 weeks. S. quianensis produces good yields from sea level up to
2,000m, between 900-2,000mm rainfall, and temperatures between 18-28
degrees C. A low growing crop with a spreading habit.
Caribbean stylo: This species is best suited to the
hot tropics with 600-1,700 mm rainfall in a growing season of 15-25
weeks. Caribbean stylo is limited to low altitude regions because it is
subject to frost damage. Is tolerant to acidic soils. ECHO's seed bank
carries Verano Carribean, not Amiga
This species can survive with as little as 600mm of rainfall, but does
very poorly in heavy soils that hold too much water. An upright pasture
type crop that is 6" tall. On ECHO's campus this crop has flourished
under the hot humid summer. It can be grown at elevations as high as
3,000ft (1,000m). Tolerates acidic soil.
Cold-tolerant legume sown in autumn for overwintering and harvest in
spring; fast-growing; nitrogen-fixing; prefers cool, humid weather with
35" of rainfall yearly. It cannot tolerate extreme drought or standing
water and seeds will not germinate at temperatures over 60°F (15.5° C).
Warm-climate clover suitable for tropical highlands; nitrogen-fixing
legume; likes loam soil with good moisture; not rootknot nematode
resistant; It will tolerate a wide range of rainfall, temperature and
Commonly grown in the
southeastern US; white clover/grass mixture makes high quality pasture.
Perennial warm-climate clover suitable for tropical highlands; cannot
tolerate long, dry seasons and remain a perennial.
Used as pasture, hay, silage, green
manure; will fix nitrogen in the soil, (2-3 lb./acre/day under spring
sun), prevents erosion, withstands trampling by foraging livestock,
shades out weed growth, requires no fertilizer. Tolerant of acid soil,
but requires high phosphorous; vining habit with stems 0.6-1.3 m long;
needs well-drained soil.