Forage brassicas can provide significant cost effective benefits as a specific crop to address feed supply and quality issues at various times of the year.
Opportunities from sowing brassicas include:
- Producing a significant supplementary feed reserve for use when pasture is limiting in volume or quality.
- Providing a respite from pastures that are associated with animal performance and or health issues e.g. facial eczema or endophyte toxins.
- Addressing soil fertility issues, pest problems, drainage and weed issues that may have been affecting the existing pasture.
- Taking the pressure off other pastures to help them recover and build root reserves before being grazed.
- Addition of brassicas as a component to mixes or as specific forage crops to boost dry matter production e.g. turnips and grass.
Maximising gross margins
Whilst including a forage brassica into the farming system will help maintain a good rotation, the main reason for choosing this option is to ultimately improve farm profitability. High yielding crops can be grown, providing impressive gross margins based on current input costs and likely returns for primary products.
Timing of sowing
Depending on location, brassicas can be sown from early spring through to autumn.
- Spring sown: forage rape (SF Greenland), leafy turnips (SF Pacer), turnips (SF White Star, SF Envy) for “summer feed” and kales (SF Fuel, SF Voltage) for "winter feed".
- Summer sown: kales (SF Fuel, SF Voltage), turnips (SF G2) and Swedes for "winter feed". Turnips (SF White Star, SF Envy) or late flowering rape (SF Greenland) for "autumn feed".
Autumn sown: Forage rape (SF Greenland) or turnips (SF White Star) for "late autumn - winter feed".