Determining yield potential of annual forages/cover crop mixtures in the Interlake region of Manitoba
Imperial Seeds, Fosters Ag Services
This project was planned to determine yield potential of four annual forages when grown in combination with cover crop mixture (TG Extend). Forage quality comparisons were also done in the test.
Plant establishment differences were not evident among different annual forages/cover crop mixtures used in this project. These differences, however, were recorded during regrowth in the second cut. Forage yield varied among mixtures at individual cuts, however, all mixtures produced similar yield over the season. The year 2021 was extremely dry year at the site and it might have resulted in relatively lower forage yield irrespective of any mixture tested.
Arborg oats and Barley/ TG extend mixtures were better for feed quality at first cut. At the second cut, NDF (%), TDN (%) and RFV did not vary much among different mixtures.
Cattle producers utilized cereal-legume intercrops for forage production in western Canada (Aasen et al. 2004). In recent years, producers are growing a multispecies annual crop mixture for forage production. A multispecies annual crop mixture can be selected from a diversity of plant families (Polygonaceae, Brassicaceae, Poaceae, and Fabaceae), corresponding to different plant functional groups (Lavorel et al. 1997). Such mixtures are reported to increase forage productivity and nutrient cycling (BCRC 2016). In a recent study from Alberta, three forage/cover crop mixtures had forage yield advantage, better marginal returns and benefit/cost ratio when compared with cereal monocrops (Omokanye et al 2018). Most of the mixtures had >13.0% forage crude protein (CP) compared to less than 12.0% forage CP for monocrops. This study also demonstrated that growing a minimum of three annual crop (cereal, legumes and brassicas) rather than one or two crops, increased forage production and offered a forage-based diet that was able to adequately meet the nutritional requirements of beef cattle in most cases. The top yield mixture had Red proso millet (P. miliaceum L.), CDC Haymaker oat variety (A. sativa L.), CDC Maverick barley variety (H. vulgare L.), 40–10 forage pea variety (P. sativum L.), Tillage radish (R. sativus L.), Hairy vetch (V. villosa Roth L.), Kale (B. oleracea L), Crimson clover (T. incarnatum L.) and Laser Persian clover (T. resupinatum L.).
Entire findings are available by downloading the report PDF.