Fodder crops such as stubble turnips and forage rape can be successfully
established in standing cereals two to three weeks pre-harvest,
offering mixed farms the potential to increase efficiency and extend
the livestock grazing season into early winter.
Michael Shannon (left) with SACís Donald Dunbar. Sowing fodder crops into standing cereals can give them a headstart and boost yields
That’s according to the results of a SAC pilot study
conducted last summer where a range of forage crops from British
Seed Houses were sown into a standing crop of winter and spring
“There’s a distinct relationship between fodder crop
sowing date and crop yield - the earlier you sow the better the
yield - so if you can exploit this effect by establishing a forage
crop before the cereals are harvested, you’re both boosting
arable field growing season potential and delivering an opportunistic
low cost feed option for the livestock enterprise on the farm,” explains
SAC study co-ordinator Donald Dunbar.
“The trial results show that - providing there is adequate
moisture - you can successfully establish these fodder crops while
a cereal crop is still standing, although the yield of forage produced
is dependent on plant population and fertiliser subsequently applied
Michael Shannon from British Seed Houses says the study highlights
how mixed farms can earn extra income from their arable fields.
“The SAC study shows how we can push the boundaries of conventional
thinking and there’s still plenty of time to sow alternative
brassica forages that can extend the grazing season on mixed farms,
as well as cut winter feed costs,” he says.
“Brassicas are a good break crop too - with varieties like
Vollenda stubble turnips improving soil structure and providing
a good base for fields that are going back into cereals next spring,” he
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