Nitrogen Fixation

I had planted a Gliricedia (or Giripushpa as it’s locally known) a year and half back at the extreme edge of my garden. It has grown tall and  should be around 12 ft.  I have snipped all its leaves, which are rich in nitrogen and spread them close to my fruit trees. Now the tree, spread like a fan resembles a skeleton. New leaves will take some more time to come.

I remember telling Mangal to make cuttings of the plants and plant them during the rains. Though he said he did it. In fact, he didn’t. Few Sundays I chopped some branches and put them in plastic bags, in an effort to grow them.  I was foolish to think that one Gliricedia would be enough for my 100plus number fruit trees!

So that my plants do not miss their nitrogen fix I have now planted chana. Though I know it’s late. Still I’m trying.

You may ask why I’ve suddenly become ‘nitrogen conscious’. Being an organic farmer I’ve realized that I need to aid Nature to play its complimentary role and not interfere by using chemicals to feed my plants’ mineral requirements.

My farming friends tell me that Nitrogen is one of the most important chemical elements for plants. “If there is not enough nitrogen available in the soil plants look pale and their growth is stunted,” they say.

How does one usher Nitrogen?

Two ways: either introduce chemicals or grow Nitrogen fixing plants, called legumes. Legumes – and all peas and beans are legumes – are plants that work together with nitrogen fixing bacteria called Rhizobia, to “fix” nitrogen. The Rhizobia chemically convert the nitrogen from the air to make it available for the plant.

Legume plants live in a symbiotic relationship with the nitrogen fixing bacteria – the Rhizobia live in nodules in the plant’s roots. This way the plant can look after its own nitrogen needs without the use of fertilizer. In addition, when the crop is harvested and the plant cut back to ground level, the root nodules release all the valuable fixed nitrogen for following crops.

6 thoughts on “Nitrogen Fixation

  1. nadavu

    There are cover crops too for nitrogen fixation. They are ready for harvest and can be mulched straight away. The growth period is from 90-135 days.

  2. surya

    Hi Hiraman,

    There are lot of cover crops for nitrogen fixation. For example Sunhemp, Daincha, pillipesara, etc. Most of them have to be cut with in 45 days when the flowering starts in them. These crops are cut down and mulched or put into the soil using rotavator.
    I had practical experience with Sunhemp which gives a lot of vegetation with in a short span and doesn’t need much watering.

    I wanted to plant Gliricedia in my farm. But not getting hold of either seeds/stumps.
    Tried with near by KVK. But they don’t have them. Is it possible for you to share with me some seeds so that I can plant before monsoon ?

    BTW I am Surya a weekend farmer like you though in a bit large scale living in Chennai.


    1. hiraman

      hello surya
      thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.It’s nice to know about fellow farmers.
      I haven’t tried sunhemp because I have been unable to get the seeds. where do you think one can get them? I haven’t collected gliricedia seeds. i grew it from a stem. if you want i can send couple of stems by courier. but will they grow? if anyone is travelling to chennai i could hand him/her couple of stems after wrapping them in sack cloth. do feel free to tell me if you want them?

      1. surya

        Of course I want them. I believe the stumps will survive if we plant in a couple of days.
        So please do courier me a few of them. Let me know your mail ID to which I can send my address and contact number. My mail id is

        Reg Sun hemp seeds I got them from a local seeds vendor near my farm ( Near Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh). If you want I can send them to you through courier. Next time I go to the farm I will see If I have any stock and otherwise I will get it from vendor and send you. Sun Hemp is a very good seed generator. You can keep some of the plants till the pods are matured and collect the seeds for next season.

        – Surya

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