Evaluation of Forage Brassica Establishment and Productivity on Grazing Farms
This project is a pilot study to quantify agronomic characteristics of some forage brassicas and to educate farmers about the economic potential of these species. The project was a partnership between Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County and northern New York organic farms. The 2010 project is an extension of a 2009 project.
In 2010, research plots were established at two sites to investigate yield potential of different varieties of forage brassica crops. These results will be combined with data from 2009 research plots and fact sheets will be published with our recommendations to farmers.
- The original project objectives were:Quantify yield and forage quality of several varieties across the range of forage brassica types (rape, kale, mustard, turnip, radish, swede, and/or hybrids of these).
Compare yield and forage quality of forage brassicas when planted at different times.
Evaluate establishment of brassicas using minimal tillage into pasture compared to conventional tillage.
Compare conventional tillage establishment of brassicas with and without a nurse crop of oats.
Compare no-till establishment of brassicas with and without a vinegar spray for suppression of competing vegetation.
Generate data for use in partial budgeting to evaluate the financial viability of forage brassicas in farming operations.
Establish several instances of brassica trials using different tillage and seeding methods for demonstration to interested farmers.
In 2010 the project focused on the first objective, quantifying yield and forage quality of several varieties by way of on-farm trials.
- Spring Variety Trial was set up at Extension Learning Farm, Canton, NY (May 15, 2010) Plots were planted with a drill, and stand establishment was good for most varieties. However, weed problems and poor drainage caused significant yield loss to much of the plot area. The ability of these crops to withstand less than ideal conditions was severely tested. Two varieties had very poor stand establishment, probably due to seed quality issues. The plots included a fodder beet variety, which had poor stand establishment (presumably due to non-availability of ideal planting equipment), but which appeared to have significant potential nonetheless.
Summer Variety Trial was set up at Zufall family Farm in Lisbon, NY (August, 2010). Plots were field-scale, planted with a drill. Stand establishment was good for most varieties, although again two varieties appeared to have seed quality issues. Productivity was very uneven. Several varieties appeared to suffer from excessively high planting densities, and soil quality also appeared to be a factor in uneven productivity. The crop was grazed by dairy cattle in November. Palatability was apparently very high, and milk production increased during the grazing period. Utilization of bulbs was initially low, but after a learning period, cattle returned to graze the bulbs and final utilization was high.
Forage quality samples were sent to Dairy One Forage Lab for analysis from both field sites. Results are currently in the process of being analyzed and summarized.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
- This work has increased awareness of brassica crops as a source of digestible energy for grazing animals among farmers in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties.
Preliminary data were obtained indicating potential yield and quality of seventeen varieties under varying conditions.
We have gained, and intend to share, an improved understanding of the agronomic conditions necessary for good brassica crop production, and of the risks and benefits of these crops.
1572 County Route 15
Heuvelton, NY 13654
Office Phone: 3153442207
2847 US Hwy 11
Malone, NY 12953
Office Phone: 5184837309
Laing Family Farm
772 County Route 35
Potsdam, NY 13676
Office Phone: 3152653179
Grass Based Agriculture Program Coordinator
Adirondack North Country Association
67 Main Street, Suite 201
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Office Phone: 5188916200
20 Campbell Road
Lisbon, NY 13658-4203
Office Phone: 3153225466
Small Farms Educator
New York Organic Dairy Initiative
60 Central Avenue
Cortland, NY 13045
Office Phone: 6077535213