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Cover crops and herbal leys

Learn about the different uses of cover crops and herbal leys

Image source: Cotswold Seeds

Herbal leys

Grazing

Timing and type of grazing will influence species selection and vice versa. Livestock type will also be significant due to grazing and browsing habits. Sheep will do well on whereas cattle…. Although many species work well for both cattle, sheep, breeding and growing animals.

Cutting

Where leys are grown in arable systems, the aim may be to cut and export the forage. As species composition may vary throughout the season, feeding value and yield will also vary. Where the intention is to both graze and cut, consider grazing early in the season to encourage establishment and tillering by mob grazing where an area is defoliated within ane or two days and then left to regenerate.

Grazing may be possible after cutting but should allow sufficient time for root reserves to build up before defoliating again.

Green manure

Once the sward has finished it’s most productive period, the remaining biomass can be mown and removed, mulched or finely cut and incorporated as a green manure, providing a source of organic matter for following crops.

SFI SAM 3 Herbal Leys

This SFI action aims to improve soil biology and structure and increase carbon capture with a minimum of 5 grass, 3 legume and 5 herb species, managed by grazing or cutting and can be rested for a 5+ week period for birds and invertebrates to make best use of the pollen and nectar it provides.

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