The pinto peanut, also known by its scientific name Arachis pintoi, is a low growing, creeping, perennial tropical legume that is useful for several purposes, including as ground cover, an ornament, and for pasture.
Considering that it is not in competition or moisture with tree crops, is able to improve soil structure while protecting the soil surface, and requires no maintenance all while outcompeting weeds, it has proved particularly popular.
Pinto peanut is also valuable as feed, so if you have livestock it’s definitely something to consider. It has 13-25% crude protein, and 60-70% dry matter digestibility. There isn’t much limitation in terms of which animals can eat it either, as pinto peanut can be eaten by all classes of animals, including chickens, ducks, and pigs; even cattle are okay with it. There has been no toxicity to livestock recorded.
Besides being a high-quality forage, other strengths of pinto peanut include its tolerance to low fertility, shade, and short periods of flooding; good ground cover, how it combines well with low, dense grasses; and is persistent under intensive grazing.
As is typical, there are a few limitations, however. Considering a high seeding rate is required this results in high seed costs; its relatively slow to establish; difficult to eradicate; requires a good amount of moisture for optimal production; and its underground seed can attract rodents.
If you are thinking of growing this legume there are a few things to keep in mind. It will grow best in areas where the annual average rainfall is in excess of 1,500 mm or under irrigation. This isn’t to say that it is impossible to grow in areas with lower rainfall or not under irrigation, and it will survive without these conditions, but productivity will be low.
Pinto peanut is suitable to most soils with the caveat that the amount of moisture is adequate. While it is tolerant of short periods of flooding, high level of manganese and aluminium as well as slightly saline and fairly alkaline soils, it is best suited to soil that has at least moderate fertility with well-drained conditions.
Due to its requirements, it is best to sow during the likelihood of warm weather and follow-up raining. Earlier sowing is a good idea as it can help ensure better ground cover during the first year of growth.
In terms of grazing/cutting, it’s a good idea to follow a pattern of 1 week grazing, and 3-4 weeks rest.