2 May 1997

Key role for forage crops

FORAGE crops are more likely to establish after recent rain and can play a part in improving milk and beef production.

According to Kingshay Farming Trusts development director, Duncan Forbes, soil moisture is vital in establishing a spring forage crop.

"In some areas it is probably still too dry to establish a forage crop successfully, but many areas of the country will have had some rain. There should be enough soil moisture to get crops up and away."

Spring sown options

The latest report from the trust, Spring Sown Forage Crops – Four Years Results, says that forage turnips and kale are the best options for spring sown crops. The best varieties provide cheaper nutrients than any other forage except for grazed grass, says the report.

Author, Charlotte Carter, says a high yielding crop will provide dry matter for under £40/t, but warns that costs can be as high as £83/t DM for an average crop of baled kale.

"These crops help to fill the mid-season grazing gap when growth slows naturally or is restricted by drought. Generally, one acre will provide 14 days supplementary grazing for 100 cows, assuming a daily intake of 2kg DM a cow."n