Demonstrating the Potential for Triticale and Annual Ryegrass as both an Alternative Winter Crop and a Soil Organic Matter-Building Practice
2012 summary consists of harvesting the 2011-2012 crop, getting yield, nutrient and costs values from each plot. The economic value was evaluated by Dr. Curt Lacy. The nutrient value was calculated by Dr. Lawton Stewart. The entire project was outlined by Dr. Dennis Hancock.
These specialists along with other involved speakers presented their research at a producer meeting on October 9, 2012 with over 90 attendees. We also demonstrated the planting, harvesting and silage processing equipment as well as supplying samples of the 2011 – 2012 balage.
Winter cover crops (specifically triticale, annual ryegrass, and crimson clover) that are harvested as a forage crop can accomplish several goals of sustainable agriculture such as:
1)It can build up soil organic mater(SOM)and protect from soil erosion during winter months.
2)It can provide an alternative crop of high quality forage that can be sold to local dairy and beef producers.
3)It can increase the sustainability of existing farming practices by improving cash flow on the farm, decrease the risk to the local environment, and enhance the sense of community on the local level.
Our initial goal was to create data that justified taking a cover crop and turning it into a cash crop providing high energy forages for local forage based dairies and beef producers. We have accomplished this with the help of the UGA specialists. We analyzed the 2011 – 2012 yields, eliminated two varieties of rye grass and added two newer varieties for the 2012 – 2013 crop. We also collected and analyzed soil organic matter buildup and were extremely pleased with the findings, some showing an increase over the control sample of as much as 1% in a single year. At the suggestion of our UGA specialists, we also planted and collected yield data on double crop cotton separately behind each variety of rye grass grown. We then planted the new selection of rye grass, triticale and clover.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The producer meeting held on October 9, 2012 was attended by U.S. Congressman Jack Kingston who had expressed a desire to be on the program. He was given a first hand look at the benefits of the SARE Program. Candace Pollock with Southern SARE spoke on the educational and research advantages and explained the SARE Grant. Also on the program was Paul Harris and Rita Barrow with USDA-NRCS who spoke on the conservation practices that were included in our trial. Our local UGA extension agents, Randy Franks and Mark Frye explained the sampling techniques and procedures for gathering soil, green chop and silage samples. Herman Lewis, local Crop Production Service representative, outlined the fertility program. A demonstration of the machinery used to plant, harvest and process the crop into balage with samples for the 90+ attendees to inspect. We had a very positive response from attendees on the presentations and the feasibility of growing these crops. The next producer meeting will be at the conclusion of the two year program and should give us more comprehensive data.