Crop of spring triticale and lupins worth considering

One crop which has looked impressive as we travel around farms is a mix of spring triticale and lupins which is grown for wholecrop.

This mix, which is not widely sown, but has many distinct advantages in that it offers a source of both starch and high quality protein in a wholecrop silage. Sown in April at a depth of 3-5cms, rolled and applied with a pre-emergence herbicide such as Stomp Aqua, it is a low cost crop to grow.

Lupins are a legume and will fix large amounts of atmospheric nitrogen, however the strain of rhizobium bacteria that allows lupins to do this is not generally found in local soils, so seed will come pre inoculated. Nitrogen fixing the root nodules require about five weeks before making an active contribution and the seedling crop will use about 25kgs/hect of nitrogen in this period. This can come from either soil reserves or the nitrogen that will be applied to grow the companion spring triticale. Normal amounts of phosphate and potash are required according to soil index and lower amounts of nitrogen, as this is only required for the spring triticale portion of the mix.


Other than this one or two fungicides are required to keep the triticale free of mildew and rust. Photographs taken at the end of July show well developed pods on the lupins and large root nodules which are still fixing nitrogen. These can leave behind up to 100kgs/hect free nitrogen for the following crop.

The crop will be direct cut for wholecrop silage towards the end of August, treated and ensiled in the normal way. It can be fed to both dairy and beef stock in combination with grass silage and other fermented wholecrop cereals. Reports from farms over the years have always been positive with many saying that it feeds much better than the analysis would suggest. This is a crop worth considering for the future particularly if more restrictions on the use of nitrogen come in.

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