Using the right catch crops

Thursday 22.07.2021 , News

With the cereal harvest kicking off around the country, it’s now time to consider which catch crop best meets your needs. Greening schemes or GLAS rules state catch crops must be sown by 15 September and mixes should include at least two species. Ploughing is not allowed and the crop must stay on the field until 1 December and cannot be grazed until that date.

It is important to remember these crops should not be allowed to set seed and, if you have a brassica in your arable rotation, you should avoid using catch crop mixes that include them.

All four of Germinal’s catch crop mixes comply with GLAS and greening rules and offer benefits of soil conditioning, reduced nutrient leaching and improved soil organic matter. Drilled promptly after the main crop harvest, the catch crop will grow quickly while also suppressing weeds, providing nitrogen, minimising soil erosion and improving soil structure and quality through its root action.

Soil Booster Pro includes vetch offering quick establishment, good frost tolerance and nitrogen fixing, and phacelia which promotes a healthy soil structure. Brassica-free, this mix is ideal for growers who are already growing a brassica in their rotation.

Soil Booster Max also includes vetch and phacelia with the addition of tillage radish. The radish scavenges nutrients from lower down the soil profile bringing them to upper layers where the next crop can use them.

Soil Booster Plus includes tillage radish, forage rape and phacelia. This mixture provides rapidly growing green cover to help condition the soil and reduce erosion. The tillage radish also helps improve soil structure.  

Finally, Soil Booster Graze is specifically formulated for grazing livestock. A mixture of forage rape and leafy turnip, it provides a valuable high energy feed for winter grazing of cattle and sheep. Livestock also need access to a fibre source such as silage when grazing this mixture.

Management advice:

  • Drilling as soon as possible after harvesting cereal crops helps ensure adequate moisture for germination and minimises the possibility of leaching.
  • Catch crops can be direct drilled into stubble or broadcast onto cultivated land.
  • Seeds are a mixture of sizes so a sowing depth of 1.5-3cm is recommended, followed by rolling.
  • If sowing a catch crop as a Greening requirement, ideally no fertiliser should be applied. Where it is intended for grazing, applications of N and P are essential to increase DM yield.
  • Catch crops should be burned off with herbicide or cut with a flail mower (after 1 December) and incorporated by ploughing or discing.

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