Tropical Lucerne, Brazilian Lucerne

Stylosanthes guianensis
Fabaceae


Origin

This erect, many-branched perennial herb grows up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) high with trifoliate leaves. It is native to Central and South America, replacing lucerne, and is now one of the most popular pasture legumes grown in the tropics. Low palatability during the rain, but readily eaten during the dry season. In southern China, common stylo has been readily adopted and it is estimated that the number of hectares planted to this crop increases by 15-20% over each five-year period.

Uses

Common Stylo is raised as a crop for many reasons: forage, hay and silage for livestock, nitrogen fixation to improve soil and erosion control. Mowing usually encourages growth, whereas cattle grazing suppresses it; grazing by sheep is less harmful. If kept short, it will not become woody but remains leafy and palatable. .It has a long taproot, up to 1 m., that reaches deep into soil for water during drought and stabilizes the plant and the soil on sloping fields. Common Stylo leaf meal is a good addition to swine and poultry diets. In some countries, the governments have aided in the development of drying and marketing programs for the meal.

Cultivation

Common Stylo will adapt to a wide range of soil and weather conditions. Can be seeded in natural grasslands often without inoculation so as to extend grazing into the dry season and increase carrying capacity. Fertilization with phosphorus is required on poor soils, especially in the early stages of growth. The seedbed for Common Stylo should be level and the soil at the surface finely prepared as the seed needs to be in close contact with the soil. The plant is tolerant of high acidity in the soil but not salinity. It will tolerate drought conditions and flooding providing the soil drains quickly. This species of Common Stylo is slow growing for the first six weeks so it should be planted as early in the rainy season as is possible and sown thickly to discourage weed growth. This Common Stylo has produced good yields from sea level up to 2,000 m (6,500 ft), with rainfall between 900 mm - 2,000mm (35 in - 79 in) and temperatures between 18°-28° C (64°-83° F).

Harvesting and Seed Production

Common Stylo produces best when grown in areas with 10-hr days of full-sun .It will reach a height of 100 cm -150 cm (40 in - 60 in) in height and then will topple over making the harvesting of seed pods more difficult. Overgrazing or cutting too often for fodder will inhibit resultant growth. The plant produces hairy, yellow-brown pods, about 1.75 mm (0.07 in) long with its seeds tightly enclosed in a hull. The pods may be knocked off only a sheet or the whole plant may be uprooted and threshed. The seeds may be stored in jute sacks, off the ground, for 6 months. Germination is greatly improved if the seeds are soaked for 5 minutes in warm water.

Pests and Diseases

Common Stylo has tolerance to the fungi which cause anthracnose

Cooking and Nutrition

This plant is not for human consumption.

References

Heuzé V.Tran G.Boudon A.Labussière E.Bastianelli D.Lebas F., 2017. Stylo (Stylosanthes guianensis). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/251 Last updated on December 15, 2017, 17:53

http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/forages/Media/Html/entities/stylosanthes_guianensis_var._guianensis.htm

http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/dataSheet?id=10146