Research is confirming that a diverse mix of grasses, legumes and other plants improves pasture and grassland for soil health, animal health and for wildlife.
The Organic Research Centre in the UK has published a summary of results from a recent study that clearly shows the benefits of incorporating more than two species of legumes to help build soil fertility: Legumes: building soil fertility (pdf file)
They also found that including different grasses in the mix helped:
"There are benefits from the inclusion of grass species in the mix, whether for forage production or fertility-building. The grass takes up the N fixed by the legumes and reduces the free N in the soil, the legume rhizobia respond to the low soil N levels and fix more N, resulting in higher overall N fixation and hence greater biomass. In addition the grass raises the C:N ratio, prolonging the release of N to subsequent crops."
Fruit Hill Farm supply organic mixes for a range of uses including:
Organic Pasture Mixes
- Permanent pasture mixes for all soil types include a variety of Clovers also Ryegrasses, Meadow Fescue, Timothy, Cocksfoot and Smooth Meadowgrass
- Clover rich silage leys with diploid and tetraploid Red Clover, Westerwolds Ryegrass,
Italian Ryegrass, Alsike Clover, White Clover, Egyptian Clover and Crimson Clover
- Medium to long term leys with Clovers, Lucerne, Ryegrass, Meadow Fescue and more
Give us a call on 027 50710 to find the best mix for your requirements.
Organic Forage Crops
Forage crops are gaining popularity as an alternative to expensive meals. Some of our Cover Crops are suitable for forage, for example Rye, Fodder Radish and Westerwolds Ryegrass.
We also supply Kale, Rape and Stubble Turnips. If not available as organic we can usually source
untreated conventional seed. Please contact us for more details.
Forage Crop varieties:
- Kale 'Gruener Angeliter' : High productivity of organic matter, excellent winter feeding
- Winter Fodder Rape 'Licapo' or 'Stego' : strong yield for silage or pasture. High leaf for
good forage uptake and low pasture residue
- Landsberger Mix : High fresh and dry matter, good feed value and strong root structure
- Japanese Black Oats : winter annual crop, excellent feed, competitive weed suppressant
Cover Crops / Green Manures
Green Manures or Cover Crops are grown to benefit the soil by adding Organic Matter and
Nitrogen. They improve soil structure, prevent nutrient leaching and erosion, and reduce weed,
pest and disease problems.
Green manure crops should be integrated into the crop rotation and proper attention paid to
Green Manure Options:
- Summer Crops : large range of clovers (Red, Alsike, White, Crimson, Egyptian), Lupin,
Vetch, Buckwheat, Mustard, Sunflower, Fodder Radish, Phacelia tanacetifolia
- Special ' Fertility Building ' and ' Bee Meadow ' mixes with diverse seed range
- Winter Green Manure Crops : Rye, Winter Vetch, Landsberger Mix, Phacelia
- Short Term Leys : Italian Rye Grass and Red Clover can be left in for two or more years.
Get your soil tested
Taking soil samples and getting your soil tested is essential to find out how best to improve your soil fertility. Correct nutrient application will help to maximise yield.
Sending your soil off for analysis at a laboratory will cost less than €20 for a basic analysis of pH, P and K levels. There a lots of guides on how to take soil samples (this one from Teagasc is good). You send the prepared sample off for test to a laboratory (a web search will help you find one). Fruit Hill Farm are happy to offer interpretation of your test results and to recommend what is needed to help your crops perform as well as they can.
With the introduction of the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) there is a great incentive to develop diverse pastures and use cover crops in Ecological Focus Areas, which must cover a minimum of 5% total area on larger holdings.
Give us a call on 027 50710 to discuss how you can establish suitable crops.