Organic options to manage soil health & capture nitrogen

Nitrogen fixation is a biological process in which atmospheric N² is converted into forms that can be used by the plant as a natural alternative to applied fertilisers. This process is specific to legumes - a select group of plants which includes clover. Clover-fixed nitrogen also benefits companion grasses via nitrogen transfer in the soil.

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Organic options

White Clover is good for nitrogen fixing and has good fertility. It is an excellent companion crop for other species, with clover’s network of creeping stems (stolons) infilling gaps left by neighbouring plants. Small-leaved varieties maintain ground cover and offer weed suppression, as well as aiding growth of companion crops via nitrogen fixation.

Sowing rate 5-7.5kg/ha

Red Clover is another good nitrogen fixing cover option. As well as providing a source of protein rich forage, it helps improve and aerate soil structure and is useful for weed control.

Sowing rate 12.5-15kg /ha

Red clover meadow cropped

Crimson Clover is an annual clover which establishes quickly, aids weed suppression, and has a vast network of tap and branch roots. The crimson flower is also attractive to insects.

Sowing rate 12.5-15kg/ha

Berseem Clover is also referred to as Egyptian Clover and provides fast growing biomass and nitrogen fixation when sown in warm soils.

Sowing rate 10-22kg/ha

Herbal Mixes provide an abundance of productive grazing whilst also supporting biodiversity by providing a habitat and food source for invertebrates and pollinators.

Organic Multi Species Mixture

Sowing rate 30kg/ha

TOPGRASS Organic Grazing Leys with Herbs include diploid perennials selected for their superb grazing quality. RyeGrass Plus grasses in particular offer good grazing yields, persistency and stress tolerance. Herbs are included in this mix specifically for the purpose of grazing.

Sowing rate 32–37 Kg/Ha

Cover crops

“It’s important to plant the right cover crop for your livestock’s requirements and next year’s cropping plan,” says Mel Digger. This is for both production and environmental reasons.

“Cover crops bring environmental benefits by providing a leaf canopy that protects the soil and roots; preventing run off, erosion and nutrient loss. They also improve soil structure, soil moisture retention and fertility, which will help boost forage production in subsequent years. Crucially some cover crops are really good at fixing nitrogen in soil, making it available to future crops.

The right over crop quote landscape

Farmers need to think carefully about what crop they’d like to follow any cover options and it’s important they don’t risk taking productive land out of early grazing or silaging due to the wrong choice of crop.

Fodder Radish is a fast-growing crop and its speed of establishment aids weed suppression. It has long tap roots, which will improve soil structure, and the plant is an excellent nitrogen scavenger.

Sowing rate 10-20kg/ha

White Mustard is relatively inexpensive and highly versatile. It can be sown alone or as a companion crop and its fast-growing nature makes it a good weed suppressor.

Sowing rate 12-17kg/ha

Vetch is a highly productive and protein-rich crop which fixes large volumes of nitrogen. It has deep roots which improve soil structure and health.

Sowing rate 60-120kg/ha

Talk to your ForFarmers Account Manager about the organic forage crops available and what will suit your system best.

Increasing the retained nitrogen in your slurry is a great way of making it available to your crops, reducing wastage and cost. Using a slurry inoculant can help by:

  • Improving the fertiliser value of slurry
  • Improving slurry consistency, encouraging less crusting and sediment. This reduces the time needed to stir, fewer blockages, quicker pump out and less cost spreading
  • Reducing ammonia emissions and odour
  • Increasing the retained nitrogen and the organic nitrogen content.

Talk to your ForFarmers account manager about the organic slurry inoculant available.

Check with your organic certification officer about any approvals needed prior to sowing.

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