9 May 1997

Soya crop a first?

LEICS farm manager Wil Armitage has planted what is believed to be the first commercial crop of soya in this country in a bid to cut his reliance on imported protein feed for his dairy herd.

Mr Armitage drilled 1ha (2.47 acres) of soya at Keythorpe Lakes Farm, Tugby, last week. If the crop is successful, then Mr Armitage, who manages the farm for Peter Dixon-Smith, expects a protein content of up to 41% from the harvested beans.

Fed up at having to rely on imported protein, like soya and lucerne, Mr Armitage decided to try growing soya himself. The seed, from the Canadian-bred early maturing variety Major, was supplied by Nickerson Seeds.

"During the war there was an attempt to grow soya for high grade motor oil production. But I believe this will be one of the first, if not the first commercial crop in the UK," he said.

Mr Armitage hopes to harvest the soya beans and mix them with whole-crop and grass silage to provide the basis of a high yielding dairy ration.

If the soya cannot be harvested then it will be cut as high protein forage and fed to the farms 150-head pedigree Lyons Holstein Friesian herd.