The group of forage brassicas consists of related species, including forage rape (Brassica napus), leafy turnips (Brassica rapa), stubble turnips (Brassica rapa) and kale (Brassica oleracea). They can be used for forage, to produce high quality feed when pastures can’t or as a cover crop. As forages, they have outstanding feed quality and water use efficiency. When fed as part of a balanced ration they can produce high animal performance especially when traditional pastures have poor quality. In a crop rotation, they have added value in forage production systems. Crude protein content ranges from 20-25% for rape leaves to 10-15% of turnip bulbs. As they are not related to grasses, pest and diseases of pastures and maize are suppressed. They are deep rooting and thus drought tolerant. Their deep roots improve soil structure and relocate nutrients from the sub-soil to the top.
Our brassicas can also be used as a cover crop to prevent nitrogen from leaching. They are a good alternative to reduce the risk on erosion and can be sown late. Due to their low sowing rate requirement, they provide a cost effective option to comply with environmental policies. Notably after maize, it is possible to use forage brassicas like winter fodder rape and leafy turnip as catch crop. A significant amount of nitrogen can be taken up by brassicas and when incorporated, the nutrients will become available for the next spring crop. Late drilled cover crops need specific characteristics to survive the colder growing conditions. Our varieties used in this segment are selected for their good early vigour and fast soil cover. At the early stages, brassicas are susceptible to insect damage, notably from cabbage-fly and aphids.
All brassicas have good frost tolerance and can grow at low temperatures. Advantage is that the nitrogen taken up by these plants will be carried over to the next spring as the plant isn’t susceptible to frost. Brassicas are able to take up large amounts of nitrogen.