Onobrychis sativa (Sainfoin)

  • Sainfoin is a species of plant that especially grows in Middle and East Anatolian of our country and transition regions.   
  • Sainfoin, which is very tolerant of cold and draught, grows very well in infertile and lime/calcareous soil where other plants do not grow.  
  • The flora thins out in regions that receives lots of rain or gets irrigated often due to diseases of root and root crown rotting.
  • It is much more productive and fertile from clover when planted in calcareous and dry soils.   However, it cannot compete with clover when it comes to productiveness in areas, where irrigation takes place.   
  • It is less shapable and productive than clover in irrigable areas, due to its slow development followed by shaping. 
  • Its grass is as nutritional as clover.  
  • It has high rate of protein and rich in mineral as matter.  
  • On the contrary to clover, Sainfoin doesn’t make animal bloated.  Therefore, green sainfoin grass can be feed to animals as much as desired.

Planting, Nursing and Harvesting Processes 

On the contrary to being larger according to clover, sainfoin seeds are not capable of springing up and growing easily on a cloddy and poorly prepared soil.  Young saplings are incapable of developing well in plantations where there is lots of weeds since they develop and grow slowly during the first year followed by planting.  Therefore, the plantation where sainfoin is going to be planted must be prepared with great care.
After the land is deeply plowed, the surface of soil must be crushed with various tools to have fewer clods and lumps on ground surface.  5 to 6 kg of Sainfoin seeds is adequate per each decare.  This amount can be pulled down a little on very well prepared fields.  On the contrary to that, this amount must be increased for planting the areas, which are under prepared or poorly prepared or planting old seeds.

While planting the sainfoin seeds to the field, the depth should not exceed 1.5 – 2 cm, since its seeds’ leaves are small on the contrary to the largeness of its seed.  Sainfoin can be planted during the months of October – November in coastal regions of our country where the winters are milder.  On the other hand, it should be planted during the spring time in our Inner and East Anatolian regions.  We don’t have an improved sainfoin species in our country.  During plantation, usually mixture of seeds produced by the farmers, are used.  However, in a study conducted, it has been determined that local species, which are in quality of being unimproved population, are much more productive than many foreign species.  Planting sainfoin is very easy.  Regular grain planting machinery can be used for this purpose.  Since the amount of seed per decare is rather much, it will require the simple adjustment of the seed planting machinery.  The space in between each row must be 15-20 cm for wet and 40-60 cm in dry and infertile fields.

Sainfoin, is not a specie that response well to fertilizing under especially dray and infertile conditions.  Therefore, it is sufficient to use 1-3kg/da nitrogen, 5 kg/da phosphorus fertilizer during the plantation of sainfoin over on an infertile and dry land.  2-5kg/da nitrogen, 5 kg/da phosphorus fertilizer must be added during planting on irrigation permitting fields.  No grass or seed product can be harvested during the initial plantation year since plants cannot develop much under the arid conditions.  Plants start to grow rapidly during the spring of second year. Sainfoin can be harvested once a year on infertile land.  Sainfoin harvested under the normal conditions and at normal times gives one ton of green grass or 250/-350kg/da dry grass/hay.  If it rains a lot during the year in arid areas the grass can be harvested twice.
Sainfoin lives 3-4 years on infertile/dry land.  Its productivity increases the most during its second and third year.  During its fourth year, it starts thinning out.  Sainfoin, which is harvested 2-3 times a year in wet areas, gives one ton of green grass in average at each harvesting.  In one research, it has been determined that sainfoin can be harvested at later phases than the clover and without losing anything much from its quality.  Therefore, it is advised for sainfoin to be harvested at 50-100% flowering phase.  According to these researches it is further advised that sainfoin should be harvested at the beginning of flowering phase under arid conditions and at the full bloom phase under the wet and fertile conditions.