We have been trialling a range of companion crops for use with oilseed rape to assess their ability to reduce the damage done by Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle (CSFB) and their larvae as one part of the strategy to grow OSR successfully.
Our trials have shown the use of buckwheat, when established well, reduced the damage to oilseed rape plants by the adult CSFB during the establishment phase and continued to do so through the autumn until the first cold nights when the buckwheat died back.
- This extended period of protection reduced the number of CSFB eggs laid on the OSR and importantly resulted in lower larvae numbers per plant in the spring.
- It has also been noted in trials that OSR plots that had a buckwheat companion crop appeared to be more vigorous and with an even growth habit in the spring. This may be a consequence of reduced larvae damage or a benefit of its phosphorus scavenging and release properties boosting the OSR.
- Having identified buckwheat as the best companion crop option for OSR CSFB defence, we tested the species of buckwheat available, Fagopyrum Esculentum and Fagopyrum Tataricum, to identify the one with the best attributes and performance. Lifago (Fagopyrum Tataricum) proved to be the best option, although both types are effective.
- In areas with low CSFB pressure and where soil structure and nutrient building are more important then Tabor berseem clover and Bingo purple vetch will help enhance establishment and crop growth.
- Companion crops should be used as part of the oilseed rape establishment strategy, but not relied upon solely as the only defence against CSFB.
Companion crop options
We have seen very positive results from the use of companion crops with oilseed rape from improved establishment, reduced CSFB larvae numbers, to higher biomass and better crop health and yield, when used as part of the Agrii 8 Point Plan for success with OSR crops.
The companion crop mixtures below have been designed not only to help protect against CSFB but also to enhance crop establishment and improve growth during the season.
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