Financially, winter grazing of forage crops can be a good source of income, but it comes with environmental costs. Negative impacts which need to be considered and managed include loss of soil due to overland flow, soil pugging, and nitrogen (N) leaching.
One way to mitigate excess N leaching is to establish catch crops after grazing instead of leaving the ground fallow.
Last year, the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) undertook the “Forages for reduced nitrate leaching” (FRNL) research programme; assessing the ability of various crops to uptake N post-winter grazing. Luisetti Seeds provided Intimidator Oats for inclusion in the trial.
This year, we are thrilled to see the outcome. FAR Results show that our Intimidator Oats produced the best cereal result of 17.8 tonnes of dry matter to the hectare. This is only exceeded by Faba beans (18.3 tonnes of dry matter to the hectare).
Unlike Faba beans, which are a difficult crop to grow, Intimidator Oats grow well in cool conditions and have a very good frost tolerance thanks to their large, thick stems. Intimidator Oats also have the ability to regrow after grazing, and the quality of the crop is not compromised by its high yield. Tests show that the foliage has a high level of protein compared to other cereals.
Establishing a catch crop of Intimidator Oats post-grazing can help mitigate N leaching, as well as increasing annual dry matter production by reducing fallow periods. Catch crops sown in June 2018 removed soil N that would have been vulnerable to leaching over winter and spring. On average the June sown catch crops took up 160 kg N/ha.