Early adoption of green-crop wholecropping in UK

North Yorkshire beef and arable farmer, Guy Prudom (above), harvested rye as a green wholecrop this spring, and is believed to be one of the UK’s earliest adopters of the practice.

Using a process more commonly seen in drier climates, he direct drilled the rye last September and harvested the crop on 27 April, before any seed heads had emerged.

The impetus to try this practice came from Guy’s low forage stocks following last summer’s drought. He was also keen to grow maize for the first time but did not want to leave land bare over winter.

Opting to direct cut the crop, the field was then sprayed with glyphosate after harvest and had six tonnes/acre of farmyard manure applied. The maize was sown with a Mzuri strip-till drill, which suited Guy’s regenerative farming approach on this tenanted 500-acre (202ha) farm.

The green-crop wholecrop was preserved with the homofermentative inoculant, Activator Plus. It analysed with a dry matter of around 20%, a D-value of 74, crude protein of 10.56% and metabolisable energy of 11.8MJ/kg DM.

However, Kelvin Cave’s technical director, Michael Carpenter, says that standard UK NIRS calibrations are potentially inaccurate in unusual crops such as this as they don’t really fit as either a traditional wholecrop or as a grass. This analysis was therefore an average of four scans from a NIRS4Farm hand-held scanner, using both the traditional wholecrop and grass calibrations.

“These values are what we would expect when comparing it to results from other countries although crude protein is lower than expectations,” he says. “But this is probably due, in part, to low fertiliser of only 25 units/acre or 30kg/ha application on the crop.”

However, the crop of rye fulfilled its purpose, allowing Guy to replenish his silage stocks early in the season. It will be sown again this year after winter barley and before a spring crop. For more details on Guy Prudom’s farming activities, see our field study “Revolution by stealth on North Yorkshire Farm“.

Direct-drilled in September, forage rye taken as green-crop wholecrop on 27 April in time for drilling maize.
Direct-drilled in September, forage rye taken as green-crop wholecrop on 27 April in time for drilling maize.

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