Cover crops Not Grass leys

BSH

Member
BASE UK Member
Just some thoughts on the subject of including leys in the rotation mix. It seems to me having listened to several lectures on you tube etc of speakers in the US that they are achieving quick soil improvement and subsequent benefit from having fallow years using cover crops in the fallow as a green manure or livestock feed. When using for livestock they are mob grazing and so trampling a lot of the green for soil improvement. I saw another one recently that Will Scale flagged up on the BFF presentation sticky of Gabe Brown talking and it does seem that part of his succeess is fallow years. It made me wonder what we could do here in the Uk and I started to think along the following lines. Any thoughts?

WBarley/cover crop mix rye and vetches?/Millet mix as a grazing crop/cover crop of forage rape/ Spring Oats/ WW

Effectively 3 separate cover crops in a row but only one year out of ceral production (3 separate grazing events). Oats would probably need very little inputs after the cover.
 

Will

Member
Location
Cornwall
I am also very interested in this after being inspired by Gabe Brown's video and Tom Chapman's Nuffield report (thanks for the links Will Scale).
My question is would you benefit from planting 3 covers or would you be better off planting a diverse 'soil primer' after a ww mob graze from may until sept then ww again. from what I read in Tom's report the more biomass there is the quicker it grows so rather than starting from scratch 3 times let it go?
 
Location
Cambridge
Yes, surely this is a very inefficient way of growing biomass (and hence grazing material). In the same way that conventional set stocking and grazing very tight keeps you right on the slow bit of the growth curve, so would re-establishing a crop every 4 or 5 months.
 

Andy Howard

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Ashford, Kent
BSH said:
Just some thoughts on the subject of including leys in the rotation mix. It seems to me having listened to several lectures on you tube etc of speakers in the US that they are achieving quick soil improvement and subsequent benefit from having fallow years using cover crops in the fallow as a green manure or livestock feed. When using for livestock they are mob grazing and so trampling a lot of the green for soil improvement. I saw another one recently that Will Scale flagged up on the BFF presentation sticky of Gabe Brown talking and it does seem that part of his succeess is fallow years. It made me wonder what we could do here in the Uk and I started to think along the following lines. Any thoughts?

WBarley/cover crop mix rye and vetches?/Millet mix as a grazing crop/cover crop of forage rape/ Spring Oats/ WW

Effectively 3 separate cover crops in a row but only one year out of ceral production (3 separate grazing events). Oats would probably need very little inputs after the cover.

I do not think they ever plant a single species cover crop. They were more talking about planting a cool season mix in the autumn of oats and cool season Broad leaves crops then a summer warm season mixture. That is how I understood it. Certainly would not plant a brassica by itself as it does not sustain mychorizzae. Unless I am misunderstanding you BSH and you meant mixing all those crops together. I still struggle to see how a fallow year as above would pay for me without livestock of my own. Would agronomically love to do it.
 

BSH

Member
BASE UK Member
Yes I had meant three different crops on the basis that they can only be grazed once. It would be fine to grow just one crop in the interveening year and graze it once, but I pictured that doing the extra cropping would allow for more biomas to be returned over the period with added advantages of out wintering cattle. There are few crops that are summer grasses that we can use and my thought was a millet based summer crop that only takes 12-15 weeks to grow would be one of the few opportunities. Some can grow maize, but it needs to be cut for grain not silage and not many are able to do this and also it is not a good fit with autumn seeding. I have read and understand the principle of the mixes, and I think there could/should be some mixing in the proposed crop types, however, i think that with some weeds growing in amongst the crop there is more diversity than the planted seed suggests. By utilising the crops quickly the weeds wouldnt head and seed so no chem control need in crop. I would like to know more about Gabe Browns rotations etc, but from what I have seen on you tube etc it seems that he uses year long breaks between cash crops and uses the period by growing cover crops/feed for livestock. These thoughts are really only applicable if one has livestock and I am not sure that they stack up even then. For non livestock situations then it doesnt make sense for sure and growing only one crop( by which I mean a mix of plants) would be more sensible.I suppose we would need to know whether the combined trampled biomas and root die back was greater with three crops than one large biomas crop. I have said to Tom, that I thought there issues with his plans in terms of cover crops being mature at the right time for utilisation. I imagine that it would be difficult to have cover crops ready for grazing at all times of the year, so it needs covers that are weighted with say brassicas for utilisation in the autumn/winter or a rye /vetch type for use in march?
 

Andy Howard

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Ashford, Kent
BSH said:
Yes I had meant three different crops on the basis that they can only be grazed once. It would be fine to grow just one crop in the interveening year and graze it once, but I pictured that doing the extra cropping would allow for more biomas to be returned over the period with added advantages of out wintering cattle. There are few crops that are summer grasses that we can use and my thought was a millet based summer crop that only takes 12-15 weeks to grow would be one of the few opportunities. Some can grow maize, but it needs to be cut for grain not silage and not many are able to do this and also it is not a good fit with autumn seeding. I have read and understand the principle of the mixes, and I think there could/should be some mixing in the proposed crop types, however, i think that with some weeds growing in amongst the crop there is more diversity than the planted seed suggests. By utilising the crops quickly the weeds wouldnt head and seed so no chem control need in crop. I would like to know more about Gabe Browns rotations etc, but from what I have seen on you tube etc it seems that he uses year long breaks between cash crops and uses the period by growing cover crops/feed for livestock. These thoughts are really only applicable if one has livestock and I am not sure that they stack up even then. For non livestock situations then it doesnt make sense for sure and growing only one crop( by which I mean a mix of plants) would be more sensible.I suppose we would need to know whether the combined trampled biomas and root die back was greater with three crops than one large biomas crop. I have said to Tom, that I thought there issues with his plans in terms of cover crops being mature at the right time for utilisation. I imagine that it would be difficult to have cover crops ready for grazing at all times of the year, so it needs covers that are weighted with say brassicas for utilisation in the autumn/winter or a rye /vetch type for use in march?
I had thought that too about grazing for the whole year and maturity timings. What are all the animals grazing while the covers mature?
 

CHAP Webinar - Innovative tools to overcome the challenges of Regen Ag

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Applying principles of regen ag can incur a range of on-farm challenges. Learn how innovative tools & machinery can help with these hurdles.

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