Alternative Use of Seasonal Forage Crops: Triticale, Field Peas, and Brassicas
Chris was interested in multicropping alternative forage species, with the principal aim of extending his grazing season further into the fall. He also wanted to find species that would suppress the growth of weeds, so that he could replant the following spring without first having to apply herbicide.
Chris planted Triticale and field peas on six acres in late April, and harvested two months later. After harvesting he went over the field with a disc harrow, then sowed turnip seed at the rate of 10 lbs/acre. The turnips came up among the regrowth of Triticale and peas, giving a mixed forage.
The turnip proved, upon analysis, to be 86% water. Protein content on a dry matter basis was quite high, at 26%. Total digestible nutrients (TDN) tested at 76%. By way of comparison, silage made from the Triticale and pea forage was 68% water, with crude protein and TDN content (dry matter basis) 19% and 64% respectively.
Chris reports that the mixed forage of Triticale, peas, and turnips succeeded in both suppressing weeds and extending the grazing season. Before he turned cattle loose to graze in the experimental area the mixture was dominated by the turnips, because the Triticale and peas were more severely affected by drought. However, once the area was opened to grazing, maintaining the mixed stand became something of a problem, because the cattle loved the turnips, pulling them up roots and all. For this reason Chris says that, though he likes the idea of using Brassicas to extend the grazing season, next time he intends to try other species, perhaps kale or swede.
Cheshire County Coop Ext.
Walpole, NH 03608