By Dave Wilson, King’s AgriSeeds
King’s AgriSeeds Showcases Dual Purpose Cover Crop and Alternative Forage Crops at Ag Progress Days
At King’s AgriSeeds, we specialize in high energy forages and cover crops. We research and promote the use of cover crops as dual purpose soil building and forage crops. Working with our dealer network throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and South we have been collaborating with farmers to conduct on-farm research and develop viable cover cropping options for their particular farming systems. Our goal is to help customers be more productive on a per acre basis by educating farmers about the various cover cropping options and management of these for variable contexts and rotations to get the most out of their crop and increase soil productivity.
At Ag Progress Days this month, King’s AgriSeeds had an opportunity to show off many of our summer annual crops and mixes. King’s collaborated with Animal Scientist Melissa Rubano (USDA-ARS Pasture and Watershed Management Research Unit) to establish small plots of summer annuals that have many applications, including summer cover crops, grazing and forage use, and soil conditioners to help build organic matter and overall soil health.
Melissa Rubano and King’s AgriSeeds Research Agronomist Dave Wilson spoke to visitors at the demo plot about crop establishment, grazing, and harvest management considerations of each crop species.
All species were planted on June 6, 2014, and half the plot areas were harvested July 11, while the other half was left to grow to show comparative growth. Samples from the July 11 cutting were sent for forage analysis, and the nutritional data from this was displayed on placards at the Ag Progress Days Demo. During the demo, Melisssa and Dave spoke about the nutritional values of the crops when used for grazing or harvested for forage.
Summer annuals displayed included; Daikon Radish, T-Raptor Hybrid Brassica, Purple top Turnip, Barkant Turnip, Appin Turnip, AS 9302 BMR Sudangrass mixed with Barkant Turnip, AS 6402 BMR Brachytic Dwarf Sorghum-Sudangrass mixed with Barkant Turnip, King’s Agriseeds “Summer Feast” mix which consists of Wonderleaf Millet and T-Raptor Hybrid Brassica, King’s “Ray’s Crazy Mix” – a diverse mix of summer annuals designed for southern beef graziers to build soil and provide summer grazing, MasterGraze BMR Tillering Corn with Iron Clay Cowpeas which were drilled in perpendicular row across the corn after the corn was planted.
These diverse cover crops and grazing mixtures sparked the interest of Ag Progress Days attendees. Combinations like sorghum-sudan or sudangrass paired with a brassica are particularly good soil builders, nitrogen scavengers, and weed suppressors, and can also make high-yielding, nutritious summer forages, whether machine harvested or grazed. Brassicas contribute surprisingly high protein levels to summer mixes, while a grass like sudangrass or millet adds effective fiber. The options on display in these plots showed alternative, flexible ways for fitting in quick, rapid summer growth to round out the rotation in a pinch for forage, soil building, or both.