Organic Rotation Ideas for Finishing Suckler Calves

StormInATeaCup

Member
Mixed Farmer
Afternoon All,

We're exploring changing our system from conventional to organic and wanted to get some advice on organic rotations.

We're looking to dedicate all our arable land (light chalk) to produce organic feed for finishing our suckler Angus X calves.

Current thoughts are for a 9-year rotation of which roughly half would be dedicated to silage making and the other half to cereal production.

Ideally, we'd like to minimize cultivations and direct drill to improve soil quality.

Possible Rotation:

- Red Clover Ley for 4 Years
- Winter Wheat followed by Stubble Turnips
- Spring Barley followed by (Cover Crop TBC)
- Spring Peas
- Winter Wheat followed by Stubble Turnips
- Spring Barley followed by (Cover Crop TBC)

Does this seem sensible or are we creating extra work with the cereals when we could finish the animals off silage alone?

Could we get away with ploughing only once in the rotation (when terminating the red clover ley)?

Would the 5 year break from red clover protect us against clover rot (Sclerotinia trifoliorum)?

Would stem eelworm (Ditylenchus dipsaci) be a problem and could we manage it with a biofumigant cover crop like Oil Radish?

Any suggestions for other winter cover crops for feeding outwintered cattle?

All thoughts welcome.
 
Location
Ceredigion
Hybrid Rape Kale feeds well with cattle and rappid growth means weeds are not usualy such a problem as Kale ,
Spring barley i found worked well after Stubble Turnips , may be worth you looking into a Stubble Turnip Clover mix also, Berseem and Crimson seem to work well

This is one of our Clover Hybrid Ryegrass Leys growing back strong after being cut for silage a few weeks back , its had no Nitrogen at all , I included some Balansa Clover in that one , The Annual Clovers establish quick and give it a boost first year
 
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Sid

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
South Molton
My few thoughts as an organic farmer of 23 years for what they are worth.

Outwintering and going into peas, compaction would be my concern.
Also do you think you will have enough residual N after the 1 year peas for another wheat ,turnips and barley?


Are you looking to undersown the ley or plant stand alone?
Undersowing peas and barley is a great in for grass but cut the rate back to 50kg ac.

Question always is forage or combing peas?

Never had an issue with clover rot and we only break grass for 6-12 months now.
 

No wot

Member
Organic farming interests me but how do organic farmers generate enough P & K to replace off take from their crops , have seen some good looking silage crops on You Tube that would be depleting indices quickly
 

Sid

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
South Molton
Organic farming interests me but how do organic farmers generate enough P & K to replace off take from their crops , have seen some good looking silage crops on You Tube that would be depleting indices quickly
Soil is full of nutrients, but it's getting it into a form the plants can utilise is the key.

Spoon fed crops don't go looking for nutrients.

We loose house one herd as a valuable source of P, and also import some valuable fym but we all predominantly grass.

Screenshot_20210429-082030_Samsung Internet.jpg
 

No wot

Member
Sid , are you organic dairy, looking from outside looking in , I'd say to have a dairy , pig or chicken unit in the organic system over say straw based beef system would create more quantities of slurry and muck and be a great advantage, it also seems to me that straw based systems cannot produce enough straw to be self sufficient ( unless you have a large acerage) and will have to buy in conventionally produced straw , which seems ironic
 

Sid

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
South Molton
Sid , are you organic dairy, looking from outside looking in , I'd say to have a dairy , pig or chicken unit in the organic system over say straw based beef system would create more quantities of slurry and muck and be a great advantage, it also seems to me that straw based systems cannot produce enough straw to be self sufficient ( unless you have a large acerage) and will have to buy in conventionally produced straw , which seems ironic
I am but I prefer the straw bedding mixed with slurry over our slurry and cubicle based system.
Although slurry / dirty water does give us the opportunity to encourage spring growth.

We compost all the solid manures.

If we were to grow our own corn and feed back, that's our ultimate goal, we would have more than enough straw.

What out nutrient budget would look like then I expect we would be lacking somewhere.
 

StormInATeaCup

Member
Mixed Farmer
Thanks everyone, I was trying to give the red clover a 5 year break because of worries about clover rot & stem eelworm. If either did become a problem then you would need to stop growing red clover & some other legumes for 8+ years which would obviously be a disaster for an organic system.

If there isn't much risk however then I'd like to grow more red clover like below:
  1. Red Clover Mix
  2. Red Clover Mix
  3. Red Clover Mix
  4. Winter Wheat followed by Stubble Turnips/ Hybrid Rape-Kale
  5. Spring Barley & Peas (undersown with red clover)
  6. Red Clover Mix
  7. Red Clover Mix
  8. Winter Wheat followed by Stubble Turnips/ Hybrid Rape-Kale
  9. Spring Barley & Peas (undersown with red clover)

Noted that Rape-Kale might be better for weed suppression - I'll look more into it.

Any suggestions to avoid compaction for outwintered animals or would it be best to just avoid winter forage crops in this case?

We'd look to combine all the cereals & peas to include in the ration as would have more than enough silage.
 

35% of English and Welsh farmers possibly/probably depressed

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Written by Michelle Martin from Agriland

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has today, Thursday, October 14, published the findings of The Big Farming Survey, which shows 35% of English and Welsh farmers are either possibly or probably depressed.

The survey, based on over 15,000 responses, concentrates on the health and well-being of the farming community in England and Wales in the 2020s.

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) is a national charity that provides support to the farming community across England and Wales.

Mental health​


Mental well-being, the survey notes, describes our ability to cope with the ‘ups and downs’ of everyday life.

According to the survey, 14% of the farming community is ‘possibly depressed’ while...
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