A Guide to the Agronomy and Use of Lablab Purpureus in Smallholder Farming Systems of Southern Africa
In East and Central Africa as well as some Asian countries, lablab is mostly used as a pulse crop. Both the green pods and mature seeds can be consumed by humans. It produces large quantities of forage biomass, with high crude protein (CP) content ranging from 10 to 13 g/kg DM and dry matter digestibility ranging from 55 to 75 g/kg DM. It can be grown as a single green manure crop or intercropped with maize / sorghum to improve soil fertility. It can also be grown as a cover crop to suppress weeds or provide N-rich mulch in Conservation Agriculture (CA). When used in crop rotations with cereals, the cereal crop will utilize residual nitrogen fixed by lablab in the preceding season. Both early and late maturing culivars can be used to provide fresh fodder, or conserved as hay or silage to provide supplementary feed during the dry season. Late flowering varieties / cultivars such as Rongai can also provide grazing during the early part of the dry season. Lablab hay or silage will improve digestibility of poor quality roughages that are normally fed during dry season (e.g. maize stover).