They are often grown in situations where the soil would benefit from an increase in organic matter. The green manure crops often have deeply penetrating root systems such as the tap roots of mustard, red clover and tillage radish. These tap roots also help improve soil structure as well as contribute to increased organic matter when the aerial growth is ploughed in or incorporated back into the soil.
MUSTARD – this is a brassica and requires approximately 100 days to grow to its maximum which can be in excess of a metre tall. The tall aerial growth is normally pulverised before incorporation back into the soil.
Sowing rate: 2-3kgs/acre
BROWN MUSTARD– a specific type of mustard grown preceding potatoes where potato cyst nematode is known to exist. The brown mustard when ploughed in gives off gases which help to eradicate potato cyst nematode.
Sowing rate: 3-4kgs/acre
RED CLOVER – This is a longer term green manure which requires to be sown for the major part of the season before it is incorporated back into the soil. It has however significant benefits over the other green manures. The large tap root helps break up and condition heavier soils and the nitrogen held in the red clover root nodules contributes to the following crop.
Sowing rate: 4kgs/acre
PHACELIA – requires to be sown in spring once all risk of frost is gone. It produces a large bulk of vegetative growth. It is extremely fast growing and competes well with weed competition. The blue flowers are of huge benefit to insect life producing lots of pollen and nectar. This insect life in turn benefits other wildlife higher up the food chain such as song birds and game birds. A field of phacelia in full flower adds enormous aesthetic value to any farm.
Seed rate: 4kgs/acre
TILLAGE RADISH – This is a relatively new crop. It is a brassica and requires approximately 100 days to grow to its full potential. It is ideal for growing in late summer after a cereal crop. The elongated bulbs at the base of the plant are of prime importance as they penetrate deep into the soil to help open up heavy soils which may be prone to compaction.
Seed rate: 2.5-3kgs/acre
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