Soya beans a disaster in protein forage trials
Alternative protein crops
have achieved varying
degrees of success at
Rodbaston College, Stafford,
as delegates at an MDC
open day found out.
Simon Wragg reports
MIXED forages and mixed fortunes are how farm manager Ian Sanday at Rodbaston College, Stafford, describes this years attempts at growing alternative protein crops to break dependency on bought-in protein.
Three crops have been tried: Sunflower/maize and red clover/Italian ryegrass have met with success, but soya beans have been abandoned, being described simply as disastrous by Mr Sanday.
"Rodbaston is on the edge of a marginal area for growing soya beans which require a warm, dry climate. Weve had warm summer in the past, but this year has been very bad indeed," he said.
Planted in mid-May at 100kg/ha (40kg/acre), the crop established well and showed signs of good early growth despite pre-ploughing applications of manure which can affect the Rhizobium inoculant – applied to boost the plants ability to fix nitrogen – and attacks by birds. However, lack of warm summer days led to a disastrous harvest, Mr Sanday told producers at the meeting.
"Seed pods appeared but rain kept delaying harvest. The crop was sprayed with Reglone, but by the time the combine went in many pods had split. We harvested in October and took just 35kg off 0.5ha, where wed expected a tonne/ha."
Until early maturing varieties are on the market, soya beans wont be grown at Rodbaston again, said Mr Sanday. Instead lupins are being considered even though it has a lower crude protein, compared with soyas 40% or more crude protein, he said.
Try lupins next
• Marginal area
• Few varieties
• Needs sun
• Yielded 35kg
• Try lupins next