It is a leguminous plant which is best known as a nitrogen regulating plant for agro-ecosystems including rubber trees, oil palm, citrus and coconut plantations. It is a cover crop which helps to cover and shield the soil from weeds or plants, as well as providing rapid growth for existing agricultural crops, prevent soil erosion, and provide nitrogen fixation. Mucuna Bracteata crop grows about 10–15 cm/day in conditions similar to what rubber and palm oil plants thrive in.
It grows fast and covers the field very quickly thus, it suppresses all weeds. The seed rate is 200g for planting in 420 points (1 ha).Mucuna Bracteata is planted in the inter-rows of rubber and oil palm trees. The desirable characteristic of this cover plant is its ability to produce three to four times more biomass than conventional leguminous cover. Furthermore, it helps to prevent the invasion of pest and diseases in the fields.
The establishment of a legume cover in young rubber and oil palm plantations is a common practice in India. The main functions of such ground cover are to protect the soil from erosion and enrich the organic matter; the latter improves the soil structure leading to better aeration, infiltration and retention of moisture.
This plant has the potential to increase soil fertility and health through the processes of natural soil fertilization and aeration, furthermore, providing a sustainable water retention level for the soil beyond the current conditions of the rubber and palm oil plantation fields.
Pre-treatment of Mucuna Bracteata Seeds.
As a part of value addition to the Mucuna Bracteata seeds exported by Nadampadom Rubber Estate, we have been constantly experimenting with methods to improve the germination of the seeds.
Described below is the method that we found to give the best results, so far and improves germination by about 50-75%:
- Take cleaned Mucuna Bracteata seeds (free from soil and other debris) in an acid resistant container (Glass or Plastic).
- Add Concentrated Sulphuric acid (85%) gently while stirring with a wooden stick till a thin layer of acid coating is formed over the seeds.
- Approximately for every kilogram of seeds 50 cc. Of Sulphuric acid is needed.
- Continued the stirring for 30 minutes. By this time the outer hard coating which prevents the absorption of water by the seeds is dissolved and forms a black substance.
- Transfer the treated seeds to another container/bucket containing cold/normal water. Please ensure that the seeds are added to the water and not water to seeds.
- Decant the water and add fresh water.
- Now rub the seeds between two hands to remove the scars on the seeds.
- Repeat this for two more times till the seeds are free from acid.
- Spread the seeds over any absorbent surface, like sack and cloth and dry them under shade.
- Sow them as early as possible.
We have also observed that the following method of sowing gives the best results in case of Mucuna Bracteata.
- Plant Density-200 to 300 grams per hectare.
- Mark the areas in which seeds are to be planted.
- Dig a one cubic feet pit.
- Fill it with loose sand mixed with Supplements for early nodulation/growth.
- Sow two seeds per pit, taking into consideration, 50% germination probability.