Cover cropping where animals free graze

I’m looking at experimenting with pigeon peas and jack beans as a gmcc in sandy soil. However, as with many places, there’s huge animal pressure. Around the end of December, the herders send in their animals. By the time the rains come in June, there is generally nothing left. I’ve seen goats, camels, and the like happily munching on neem leaves in town, and in the fields, the goats will eat Calotropis procera. Naturally, I’m concerned about what this means for my unfenced rented land. The two ideas I have are

  1. spraying manure water on the plants once a month as Dov mentioned in “Agricultural Prosperity in Dryland Africa”, but
  2. I’d rather cut and drop the mulch in early January. While I realize that a lot of the N would be burned off by the sun by the time rainy season arrives, my hope is that the termites would help decompose a good chunk and bring it into the ground. I’ve found one study out of West Africa saying basically “manure without termites is ineffective” and I’m wondering if they help “bank” N and other nutrients in the soil.

Some thoughts from another network member are:

The question of how to safeguard OM and the associated nutrients from grazers in the Sahel is a good one. There are several options, but which one is most appropriate depends on circumstances. Fencing, chop and drop (to make less attractive to grazers and for termites to bank), intensive grazing with associated manure drop, stocking as mulch or compost, or using tall perennials/trees as a source of chop-and-drop mulch for the rainy season are a few that come to mind.

In our particular context, we’ve chosen fencing. As we don’t have livestock yet, we then trade the protected OM for manure late in the dry season, which helps out the neighbors and helps us with decomposition. It might be possible to employ a similar strategy by bringing in a large herd after the rainy season, and concentrating it in place long enough that most of the OM is turned into manure or flattened into contact with the ground for termites to access.

What do you do in your area to protect crops from roaming grazers?

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I grow jackbean and pigeon pea in the wet tropics. Both are fragile and easily damaged by animals.
There are some selections of pigeon pea that will 5m tall with 50-75mm trunk (yellow flower front red back- flatish mid brown seed) and (brown speckled round beige seed)
I suggest you explore Phasey bean (Macroptilium lathyroides) Phasey bean (Macroptilium lathyroides) | Feedipedia to use as well.