The concentrate prices are sky-high at the moment. Prices of cereals and soybean meal have increased over 150% the last years and they aren’t likely to drop. Especially for farms which are feeding a lot of corn silage, the additional protein purchases is a huge cost factor. Feeding more high quality grass silage is one part of the solution, but more can be done.
This situation made Barenbrug think of other solutions to get more own-grown protein sources. Legumes could play an important role in this, as they are a natural nitrogen supplier. Especially fast-growing annual clover can play a role in this for farms who are growing winter forage crops. These legumes can provide a lot of nitrogen to the crop and more important: protein to the silage. However, the technology of using grasses and clovers in the optimal combination isn’t always easy. Therefore Barenbrug has tested a lot of different combinations and mixtures of grass and legumes in different areas leading to ProtaPlus.
Feed analysis from the silage proved that the feed value and especially digestible protein increases substantial. Silage from ProtaPlus compared to pure ryegrass:
+ 5 – 15% Energy (MJ ME)
+ 30 – 50% digestible protein
From one hectare this extra protein equals 700-800 kg soybean meal. With the current feed prices this means an extra value of €300,-/ha by using ProtaPlus.
Results from several trials by Barenbrug Research have shown that ProtaPlus can yield up to 20% more dry matter per hectare than pure ryegrass. This can be seen from the graph below. The extra delivery of Nitrogen from the legumes gives a boost to the forage production.
ProtaPlus is a high-quality mixture containing top varieties of annual ryegrasses combined with annual clovers like Persian-, Crimson- and Berseem clover. The exact composition is based on the specific area and management system. ProtaPlus has been developed by Barenbrug Research after internal trials and field-tested in many different regions.
* The exact composition is based on area (climate/soil condition) and management system (spring/autumn sowing, one vs. multi-cut application, hay/silage or grazing). For example: in mixtures for autumn sowing a higher content of Westerwold ryegrass is applied. Or: in dry areas Crimson clover is the best performing type and therefor the main clover species in the mix.
ProtaPlus is a product for short-term forage production (6-12 months). It can be used as an intercrop between arable crops like corn, cereals or cotton. ProtaPlus can be harvested 2-3 times and used as silage, hay or as fresh feed, which is directly fed to animals. Grazing is also possible, as long as rotational- or strip-grazing is applied.
- Sowing period:
- Mediterranean climates: August – October
- Mild/oceanic climates: April – August
- Annual clovers need a warm period to establish so don’t sow too early
or late in the season: soil temperature should be > 12 °C
- Sowing in humid soil, very fine seedbed, comparable to sugar beets or lucerne
- Seed rate: 35 kg/ha
- Sowing depth: 0.5 – 1.0 cm. After sowing use a roller to compress the soil
- For optimal Nitrogen fixation by Rhizobia pre-inoculation with a mix of Group B- and C-inoculants is necessary
- Annual clovers require a minimal pH of 5.5 – 6.0. For lower soil-pH liming is recommended.
- As a starter fertilization special attention should be paid to P, K and S. N-fertilization is needed for the 1st cut, afterward no extra N is needed
- Animal manure/slurry to be applied before sowing or after 1st cut. Don’t apply on young grass
- Artificial fertilizer to be applied from two weeks after sowing onwards (spring/summer sowing), or shortly after winter (autumn sowing)
- ProtaPlus can be harvested 2-3 times per season (4-6 weeks interval)
- Don’t cut too low: cutting height no lower than 7-8 cm
- Tedding and raking should be done smoothly, to prevent losses from cloverleaves