Legume integration [Nepal]

Bali pranali ma kosebali samabesh

technologies_1753 - Nepal

Completeness: 63%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
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SLM specialist:


Soil Management Directorate, Department of Agriculture


SLM specialist:

Team Leader

Sustainable Soil Management Programme


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1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.5 Reference to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Approaches (documented using WOCAT)

Farmer-to-farmer diffusion

Farmer-to-farmer diffusion [Nepal]

Wider diffusion of sustainable soil management technologies through a demand responsive farmer-to-farmer diffusion approach

  • Compiler: Richard Allen

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Integration of leguminous crops as intercrops on terrace risers or as relay crops

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Legumes are widely grown across the hills of Nepal, with the most common being soybean, lentils, black gram, cow pea, beans, horse gram, field peas, and rice bean. They are mostly intercropped or relay cropped with cereals such as maize, millet, and rice. They are also planted on the edges of terraces and rice paddy bunds. Depending on the species, they may be grown in rain-fed or irrigated fields during the winter or summer seasons.
The majority of the legumes grown by farmers are used for food or as a cash crop. The planting of fodder legumes has become more popular with the expansion of stall-feeding and the development of a dairy industry. The planting of legumes, with the main objective of improving soil fertility is a more recent development in Nepal’s hills.
Nitrogen is the main plant nutrient element and is usually applied through commercial fertiliser where available. Legumes fix atmospheric nitrogen through bacterial nodules on their roots, then nitrogen subsequently becomes available to the following crops. It is important, therefore, not to uproot the legume crop during harvesting - it should be harvested by cutting the above ground parts leaving the roots (and the nodules) in the soil. The crop residues can be fed to livestock, used as animal bedding, applied as green manure directly to fields, or incorporated in compost. In this way most of the nitrogen that was fixed by the legume crop is returned to the soil.
Details about the different legume species and their different characteristics and uses are described in detail in SSMP, PARDYP and SSD-NARC (2000).

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Further specification of location:

Midhills districts of Nepal

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve soil fertility

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Intensifying cultivation practices with either 1) inadequate application of fertilisers leading to a decline in soil fertility and the mining of soil nutrients or 2) the application of too much fertiliser causing environmental problems through excessive leaching, losses of fertiliser in surface runoff, and consequent eutrophication or nitrification of streams, ponds, or groundwater.

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • integrated soil fertility management
  • improved plant varieties/ animal breeds

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A2: Organic matter/ soil fertility

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

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Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

A number of species are presented
in the legume integration decision
support guide (SSMP, PARDYP, SSDNARC 2000). Here only a selection of useful legume species are presented (from top left corner to lower right corner):
- red clover (Trifolium pratense)
- hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth)
- Chinese milk vetch (Astragalus sinicus)
- rice bean (Vigna umbellata)
- velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens)
- tephrosia (Tephrosia spp.

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: low

Technical knowledge required for land users: low

Main technical functions: increase in soil fertility (nitrogen in particular), increase in soil productivity & decrease in soil erosionon terrace bunds, nutritius and high value crops

Secondary technical functions: fodder and green manure availability & income

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology unit
Specify currency used for cost calculations:
  • USD
Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour Persons/day 2.5 2.0 5.0
Plant material Seeds unit 1.0 1.5 1.5
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 6.5
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 6.5

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Depending on the type of farm niche - broadcast, line sow, or spot

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)


Cost as in January 2007

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

Annual rainfall: Also 2000-3000 mm

Agro-climatic zone
  • humid

Thermal climate class: subtropics

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Slopes on average:Also moderate (6-10%), rolling (11-15%) and hilly (16-30%)

Landforms: Also footslopes

Altitudinal zone: Also 1000-1500 m a.s.l., 1500-2000 m a.s.l. and 2000-2500 m a.s.l.

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • subsistence (self-supply)
  • commercial/ market
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Off-farm income specification: In most farm households, off-farm income plays at least a minor and increasingly a major role. Occasional opportunities for off-farm income present themselves in the form of daily labour wages. Some households’ members receive regular salaries whilst an increasing number of Nepalis are working in India, the Middle East, Malaysia and elsewhere and sending remittance incomes home.

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, not titled
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • leased
  • individual

sharecropping between owner and tenant

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs

Comments/ specify:

Reduced expenses for nitrogen fertilizers

Other socio-economic impacts

Livestock fodder nutritiousness


Value and nutritiousness of crops


Crop in terms of main yield


Ecological impacts


soil loss


soil organic matter/ below ground C

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

pest/ disease control

Comments/ specify:

Highly susceptible to diseases and pests

Other ecological impacts

Application of fertilizer


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

groundwater/ river pollution

Comments/ specify:

Reduced nutrient flux into water bodies

Dependence on outside


6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:



On average a benefi t of US$ 40 to 50 per ropani can be expected from the production of legume species

6.5 Adoption of the Technology


Comments on spontaneous adoption: About 80% of participating farmers used/had adopted the technolog. It has also been adopted by farmers who have not directly participated in SSMP activities.

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Cost effective in terms of inputs and management practices in comparison with other commodities
Needs less agronomic practices and care (i.e. can be cultivated in zero or reduced tillage)
Has multiple uses: food crop, feed crop, fodder, soil building
Can be integrated in varying niches on farms and therefore does not need additional land
Rich indigenous knowledge exists

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Highly vulnerable to diseases and pests Skip planting time (i.e. preponing planting of crops to get around life cycle of pests) , use location specifi c species, resistant varieties
Very susceptible to waterlogging Only plant in well-drained soils
In high fertility conditions, nitrogen fixing rhizobium does not work leading to less nitrogen fixation For very specifi c and new species, the soil needs to be inoculated with the correct strain of bacteria
Legumes generally do not respond to nitrogen fertiliser Do not apply nitrogen fertiliser to legumes

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

SSMP (2005) Legume Integration Manual (in Nepali). Kathmandu: Sustainable Soil Management Programme

Available from where? Costs?


Title, author, year, ISBN:

SSMP; PARDYP; SSD-NARC (2000) LegumeIntegration into Hill Farming Systems, Decision Support Guide Kathmandu: Sustainable Soil Management Programme, People and Resource Dynamics Project and Soil Science Division-Nepal Agricultural Research Council

Available from where? Costs?


Links and modules

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