22 September 1995

Lucerne stayed green in drought

LUCERNE has provided drought insurance on the Royal Agricultural College Farms, Cirencester, Glos, this summer.

The 16ha (40 acres) of the crop has stayed green through the drought and helped the college, which aims to achieve some 30% of annual milk production between July and September, sustain milk output.

"As a deep rooted legume, lucerne grows particularly well in dry summers and fixes its own nitrogen so does not need so much fertiliser," says farms director Mike Limb. "We harvest just enough lucerne each day, mix it with wheat and grass silage and feed it to the herd after morning milking."

The college is now looking at different ways of establishing the crop. One option is undersowing into forage maize. This has been successful under experimental conditions and will soon feature as a field trial.