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Forage rye could help maize growers combat shortfalls in availability of home-grown forage this winter

News - 23.09.22

Ben Lowe, Agrii National Forage Product Manager

With drought status declared by the Environment Agency for large parts of the country this summer, many farmers are concerned about volumes of forage for their livestock over the winter or feedstock for AD into next year.

Maize yields are likely to be impacted for most and less silage has been made, resulting in many growers already utilising stocks to buffer feed livestock or AD plants instead of carrying forward into the winter months. Therefore for maize growers, it’s more important than ever to establish a forage crop in-between maize crops.

Lunator forage rye

Considering Lunator forage rye will help bolster forage production during what could be a difficult winter, while simultaneously providing environmental benefits to the farm.

Planting a crop of forage rye prevents the ground being left bare over winter, and will provide better travelling conditions in the spring, as well as improving soil resilience and retaining vital nutrients.

Forage rye can be sown with minimum cultivation provided the field is in good condition. Lunator forage rye establishes rapidly and doesn’t really stop growing throughout the winter, so provides either winter grazing or can be ensiled from April.

Once established, management of the crop is relatively simple – it is winter hardy, has excellent rooting capability and produces a higher yield from an earlier harvest date when compared with other varieties on the UK market.

Minimal nitrogen inputs in the new year
combined with a light PGR application are not essential, but do show benefits for final yields and even-ness of crop when harvested.

Although technically a cereal, growers should not aim to achieve any levels of starch from a forage rye crop, as this would require grain maturity and a much later harvest date during summer.

Looking at the crop more akin to grass, harvesting it as ears are beginning to emerge, ensures that overall forage quality is maximised.

The volume and quality of homegrown forage that can be produced from forage rye with minimal cost and inputs, combined with the reduction in valuable nutrient leaching over the winter and the benefits to soil health, supplies a very cost-effective solution to ground that would usually remain bare between maize crops.

During this difficult year, it could also provide a necessary boost for farmers to help meet the shortfall in availability of home-grown forage for their livestock.

Please get in touch with your usual Agrii contact for more information on Lunator forage rye seed, or contact Ben Lowe email: ben [dot] lowe [at] agrii [dot] co [dot] uk

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