Oat-Hairy Vetch Intercropping Demonstration
Parkland Crop Diversification Foundation
To demonstrate the use of intercropping for grain, forage and soil nutrient management
Establishment of both the oats and the hairy vetch were successful. The land was in summer fallow (2016) and a pea-oat cover crop (2017). As such the land was extremely fertile. Lodging in the oats was completely absent as the hairy vetch provided a support. Harvest was very smooth, and the vetch passed through the combine without wrapping. Year two of this trial will involve a biomass sample taken at flowering, evaluating re-establishment and yield for a cereal crop sown into the vetch, and harvesting vetch seed at maturity.
Cover cropping as a part soil management is of growing interest to many Manitoba farmers. Cover crops perform a number of significant functions for the soil, including but not limited to: controlling soil erosion after harvest of the cash crop; increasing soil nutrients; and improving water infiltration.
Potential advantages of the system include:
- Grain yield (for own feed or commercial use)
- Straw feed value comparable to first-cut alfalfa
- Hairy vetch remains alive at the end of the season, acting as a catch crop for nutrients
- Hairy vetch can be terminated in the following spring as a green manure, or harvested for seed at maturity
- Harvested hairy vetch seed can be used for future oat-hairy vetch intercropping, reducing otherwise expensive seeding costs
- Year 2 hairy vetch could also be silage or hayed and fed as a high-value supplement
A disadvantage is that hairy vetch has a high amount of hard seed, resulting in sporadic germination in subsequent years. Some reports show problems for ruminants fed hairy vetch seed (although some show that the risk is minimal). The crop is also resistant against glyphosate, which can cause problems for some rotations.
Entire findings are available by downloading the report PDF.