Growing a forage crop for the winter can be a great way of producing valuable low cost forage whilst also reducing pressure on housing and slurry storage. Early sown crops can also be used to fill any grazing gaps in late summer. In terms of summer sown forage crops the options are either brassica crops such as kale, forage rape, hybrid rape and stubble turnips, however, cereal crops such as rye are also suitable, all of which are stocked by Fane Valley.
To get the most from forage brassicas some planning needs carried out to find the best crop for you to grow and the best field to use for growing the crop. At most, 70% dry matter of the animals diet should come from the brassica crop as the animal will need access to fibre such as silage or hay. It is best to place the bales in the field after planting the crop to avoid damaging the crop and soil during the winter. The fields used to grow the crop should be relatively dry and not too steep to avoid erosion and loss of soil into waterways.
The crops are easily established and can be sown into cultivated ground or direct drilled into grassland or cereal stubbles. Sowing a brassica crop in a field you plan to reseed next year disrupts the life cycle of leatherjackets eliminating the problem in the following reseed or spring cereal crop. The brassica crop may be effected by slugs and caterpillars and should therefore be monitored for signs of these pests.
For more information on growing forage crops call into your Fane Valley Store or contact your Agronomy & Forage Specialist or call today on 028 9261 0485.