Planning ahead for cover and fodder crops

As farmers prepare for harvest it is also essential to think about next season’s crops, as well as what options may be available over the autumn months.

Fodder availability will be down on many farms and growing fodder crops may be an option for some farmers, but now is the time to plan. Winter barley crops are due off fields this month and to get the best out of a fodder crop it should be sown as soon as possible after harvest.

Fodder deficit

So start thinking now if you need to make up a fodder deficit on your farm, or if you know someone willing to enter into an agreement with you to grow fodder crops for them.

Prioritise the field you want to plant that crop in. What field would benefit from fodder crop and animal manure?

Light animals should be grazing these crops, but it is still advisable to plant the fodder crop in the drier fields available to avoid damage over winter. Fields which may be subject to more poaching than others can still be planted with a cover crop, but might not cope as well with trampling.

Crop options

There are loads of options available to farmers for both fodder and catch crops. Fodder rape, hybrid brassicas, stubble turnip and tillage radish can provide quick growth, good root structure for the soil and good-quality feed for the animals.

Think carefully before planting grasses like Westerwolds as careful management is needed to ensure these crops do not go to seed and cause grass weed problems for many years to come.

Reach an agreement

If growing on contract for someone else, have an agreement in place before the crop is planted with regard to payment, fencing and water.

In order to keep ground in good condition, fencing and the correct movement of that fence is critical.

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