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Choosing soybean cultivars
Progress to maturity (earliness): selection principlesDepending on the autumn conditions of a site, harvesting in September is generally preferred while ripening in October runs risks with weather. The growing season from crop emergence in May is therefore short and cultivars that mature quickly are required in most of Europe. The soybean is by nature a so-called short-day and warm-season plant. From a global perspective, the progress to maturity for a particular site and sowing date is determined largely by the timing of flowering, which in turn is determined by the genetic sensitivity to day length. Flowering is suppressed in the long-day conditions of summer in most of Europe above 45°N unless the cultivar is day-neutral. Day-neutral cultivars have a combination of genes that allow flower initiation under long-day conditions. They initiate flowers as soon as the plant is large enough. The earliest then progress quickly through flower development, flowering, pod filling, and to maturity. Later cultivars develop larger plants and larger crop biomass before initiating flowering. This results in a trade-off between insensitivity to day length (earliness) and yield potential. After sensitivity to day length, the second factor determining a cultivar’s suitability for a site is how rapidly the crop flowers and matures after flower initiation. Like with maize and sunflower, growth stops completely when temperatures fall to about 7°C. So soybean grows well in areas where other warm season crops such as grain maize and sunflower grow well. Day-neutral cultivars vary in the length of time taken to maturity which is measured as a product of time and temperature above a base temperature. This is the thermal time which is expressed as heat sums.
Progress to maturity (earliness): selection practiceThe categorisation of cultivars into so-called ‘maturity groups’ (MG) provides growers with a rough approximation of the suitability of a cultivar with respect to earliness for a given location. Cultivars are attributed to maturity groups based on in-field observation of new cultivars compared to established cultivars. There are 14 soybean maturity groups ranging from the cultivars that progress most rapidly to maturity (0000) to the latest (X). All cultivars in maturity groups 0, 00, 000 and 0000 are day length neutral and are basically adapted for use above 45° N. This is approximately the whole of Europe north of a line between Royan, Lyon, Venice, Zagreb, Novi Sad, Brasov and the Danube Delta. The 45th parallel is significant because summer day length above this exceeds 15.5 hours presenting a particular challenge to soybean as a short-day plant. [caption id="attachment_18962" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Soybean cultivars of different maturity groups on a research plot at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna.[/caption] The MG classification system is not precise but we can say that cultivars of the 000 MG are primarily considered for cultivation in the main soy producing areas in Europe north of the Alps but also in cooler regions south and east of the Alps. The later 00 cultivars usually ripen safely in the traditional warmer winegrowing areas and the lowlands of the Rhine, Neckar, Main, and Danube valleys. Cultivars in 0 MG cultivars only ripen in the warmest areas north of the Alps. MG 0000 cultivars are the earliest and are therefore suitable for northern and maritime areas where cool conditions occur or as a second crop in warmer regions. Due to the trade-off between earliness and biomass accumulation, the yield potential of cultivars declines from the latest (X) to the earliest cultivars (0000). Recent breeding has been particularly effective in raising the yield potential of cultivars classified as MG 000. In practice, the yield difference between 000 and 0000 classified cultivars is significant which may lead farmers to prefer cool season legumes in regions with cooler climates. In warmer climates of southern and south-eastern Europe, cultivars categorised as in MG I and II with a higher yield potential may be cultivated. Second cropping using earlier cultivars (00, 000) is also practised in some warm areas where soybean may be sown after the harvest of winter cereals in June or early July, if water is available. [caption id="attachment_18971" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Agro-climatic zones in Europe. The areas with different shades of green and the two lighter shades of blue are suitable for soybean production.[/caption] Because the maturity group categorisation is only approximate, some descriptive cultivar lists (Table 1) go further and indicate a number of more or fewer days for maturity compared to a cultivar serving as a reference. This is done in Switzerland, Czechia, France, Hungary and Poland. Description lists in Austria and Germany provide numbers to distinguish between relatively early, medium and late cultivars within a maturity group. In Austria, earliness ratings 2-3-4 are allocated to MG 000 and 5-6-7 to MG 00. These more precise ratings consider the impact of the local effects of temperature and water supply on earliness. Local testing of candidate cultivars to examine these fine responses helps in local selection. Table 1. Descriptive lists of cultivars
Publisher/link to cultivar descriptions (Country)
Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, AGES (Austria) Central Institute for Supervising and Testing in Agriculture, ÚKZÚZ (Czech Republic) Terres Inovia (France) Federal Plant Variety Office (Germany) National Food Chain Safety Office (NEBIH) (Hungary) Central Research Center for Cultivar Testing (COBORU) (Poland) Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy of the Republic of Serbia (Serbia) Agroscope (Switzerland)
Resistance to lodgingThe second selection criterion is the standing stability or the resistance to lodging. This currently varies from grade 2 to 9 (with 1 = lodging very low to 9 = lodging very high) in the Austrian catalogue. Four grades are used in France (very low risk, low risk, pretty risky, high risk). The risk of lodging is increased by lush growth enabled by a good supply of water. Therefore, cultivars that stand well are preferred where lush, vigorous growth is expected. As a trait, standing ability is often linked to determinate development that shortens the flowering period which in turn reduces the length of the growing period. This leads to early ripening which may in dry years mean a yield disadvantage compared to indeterminate variety types. Crop height is not decisive for resistance to lodging. Tall cultivars tend to have fewer pods placed close to the soil. This results in lower harvest losses, especially where a flexible cutterbar is not used. [caption id="attachment_18975" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Soybean cultivars with different levels of resistance to lodging on a research plot at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna.[/caption]
Disease resistanceCultivars with high levels of resistance to sclerotinia stem rot should be preferred where the risk of this disease is high due to a specific microclimate or an increased proportion of susceptible species in the crop rotation (inter alia sunflower, oilseed rape, tobacco, vegetables).
Rapid early growthRapid and vigorous early growth helps achieve early canopy cover suppressing weeds and reducing the risk of erosion. The current cultivars range from 5 to 9 on a 1 to 9 scale (with 1 = slow and 9 = fast). Cultivars with higher values are particularly useful in organic systems where the vigorous growth is valued for controlling weeds.
Protein contentForming protein is more demanding for the plant than carbohydrate formation. Therefore, as in wheat, there is a negative correlation between total grain yield and protein concentration in the grain. The optimum for the grower depends on crop trading arrangements. Achieving a minimum protein content may be critical where there are price deductions and supplements around a threshold, especially if the deductions below the threshold are greater than the supplements above it. To help, cultivars are characterised for expected protein concentration on a 2 to 9 point scale (9 being high). No cultivars with a protein concentration shown to be below the threshold in local tests should be selected were protein content is a marketing criterion. In the case of cultivation for on-farm use, protein yield per hectare may be a useful selection criterion. Since soybean oil is not well rewarded by the market and since high oil contents are not beneficial in feed, a high oil content may be rather a negative feature unless it is rewarded by an oil mill.
Diversifying cultivar useThe use of a range of cultivars spreads some agronomic risks. However, each cultivar should exceed a minimum area to ensure an economically viable marketing where cultivar choice is a marketing criterion. Using several cultivars that differ in earliness helps spread workloads at sowing and harvest. These will also be at different development stages if stress conditions impact on the crop.
Role of buyers and further useDepending on the product, specific quality requirements are common when growing soybean for food production. Food manufacturers that use soybean directly (e.g., for tofu or milks) often have specific cultivar requirements. This reduces the cultivar options for these uses from the outset. Cultivar-related criteria are rarely a factor in marketing for animal feed (apart from its effect on protein concentration). Other cultivars are available for very special uses such as the production of edamame or natto with very specific qualities where low yields are accepted. Other characteristics such as seed weight (thousand grain weight), flower or navel colour are generally of no significance for cultivation or sale, unless otherwise contractually agreed in individual cases.
The role of seed qualityAs soybean seed is very susceptible to mechanical damage affecting the germination rate, the results of a simple on-farm germination test made a few weeks before sowing can be used to adjust seeding rates. This can also be used to negotiate price reductions with seed suppliers if the germination rate turns out to have fallen under the minimum rate for certificated seed of 80% (Germany, Austria, France). If it is known that seed of a desired cultivar is only available at a very low germination rate, it might be preferable to use a different cultivar. No seed with low germination rate should be used under difficult conditions (e.g. heavy, cold soil). In case of doubt, a germination test at cooler temperatures (cold test) may be helpful. [caption id="attachment_18979" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Cultivar differences in ripeness, vigour and stability.[/caption]
Using unregulated seedThe production and sale of seed is regulated in the EU to ensure that traded seed meets minimum standards of cultivar purity and quality. Farmers have access to a wide range of cultivars listed in the EU common catalogue of varieties which can be marketed in the EU. Seed of other cultivars can be purchased outside the EU for own use only using an importation license obtained from the national authority in charge of authorisation of seed. It is important to realise that the use of seed imported from countries where genetically modified crops are grown (e.g., from Canada or Ukraine) risks introducing traces of genetically modified seed which can cause serious trouble.
Official descriptions and tests of cultivars in EuropeNumerous new cultivars appear on the market every year after proving their performance in tests of official institutions and commercial organisations. Their properties are listed in ‘descriptive variety lists’. These lists provide basic information to help growers select well-suited cultivars. In addition, the results of regional field tests are published every year in many parts of Europe. They are of special relevance to farmers in the respective regions and must be interpreted according to the local weather conditions in each year. Relative performance is subject to annual variation and so results over several years should be used, if available. These results are normally published by the regional agricultural development services. A selection is available on www.sojafoerderring.de.
Decision criteria / Procedure
- Make sure the cultivar is suited to the intended use or market.
- Use maturity groups (MG) as a guide.
- Opt for high resistance to lodging where lush growth is expected.
- Cultivars that have vigorous early growth help control weeds.
- Disease resistance is relevant only in humid areas or in crop rotations with a high proportion of sunflowers, rapeseed, vegetables, tobacco etc.
- Consider protein content where it is a marketing criterion.
- Consider oil content where it is a marketing criterion and avoid high oil contents for own, regional or organic feeding.
- Criteria such as seed size, flower and navel colour are usually not relevant.
- Use several cultivars that vary in earliness where large areas are grown.
Further informationDeutscher Soja Förderring, www.sojafoerderring.de European Commission. EU plant variety database, https://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/plant_propagation_material/plant_variety_catalogues_databases/search/public/index.cfm?event=SearchForm&ctl_type=A
Impact of microfluidization on colloidal properties of insoluble pea protein fractions
Nitrogen partitioning and isotopic fractionation in dairy cows consuming diets based on a range of contrasting forages
The environmental role of protein crops in the new common agricultural policy
Legume Science and Practice 2 conference report
Effects of mixtures of red clover and maize silages on the partitioning of dietary nitrogen between milk and urine by dairy cows
Reducing concentrate supplementation in dairy cow diets while maintaining milk production with pea-wheat intercrops
Comparison of grass and legume silages for milk production. 1. Production responses with different levels of concentrate
Forage intake, meal patterns, and milk production of lactating dairy cows fed grass silage or pea-wheat bi-crop silages
Milk production from silage: comparison of grass, legume and maize silages and their mixtures
Phosphorus fertilisation of faba bean
OutcomeEnsuring a good supply of nutrients, in particular phosphorus, from the soil is the nutritional foundation of high yield. Yield increases after P fertilisation of up to 40% are reported under farm conditions in low P index soils. Good fertilisation practice secures this yield potential while minimising the risk of phosphorus loss to water. Placement of P close to the seed in low P soils supports good P utilisation and ensures optimum use of the investment in fertiliser.
Rate of phosphorous applicationThe above reported evidence on phosphorus supply being particularly important for high yielding faba bean crops grown under low soil-P supply has important implications for production practice in Ireland and in other countries. Faba bean yielding above 6.5 t/ha is common in Ireland. What are the implications for practice and what are the principles that determine these practices? Soil analysis for plant available P is the basis of planning phosphorus applications to all crops. This involves laboratory analysis of representative soil samples following national or regional guidelines. The Irish soil index system categorises soils into one of four soil index levels based on the soil test P result (Morgan extraction). Table 1 shows the P recommendation for each soil index for faba bean.
Soil pH and phosphorous uptakePhosphorus exists in several different forms in soil and the occurrence of each of them depends largely on soil pH. Plant available inorganic P is most abundant when the pH is between 6 and 7. A whole-farm liming regime that maintains soil pH between 6.5 and 7 over the rotation ensures that the soil phosphorus is most available to crops.
Application time and methodBeans as with other legume crops require P for crop growth, from early development to the end of grain fill. Plants require relatively small amounts of P during establishment but have high P uptake during rapid canopy development. Ensuring the availability of P at the establishment phase is essential. This can be from soil reserves or applied P in low P sites. Phosphorus is relatively immobile in soil and so applications on low index soils must be made at or before sowing to influence plant growth (Table 2). Placement of fertiliser in close proximity to the seed (either by placement in the same furrow as the seed or by side banding at planting/seeding) is an effective method of fertiliser application, especially to provide a starter source of nutrient for early crop nutrition and growth. Depending on the soil P status, fertiliser may be broadcast (ideal for higher P sites), with or without subsequent incorporation, or placed close to the seed at planting (which is beneficial on low P sites). Where soil phosphorus levels are adequate, faba bean shows little response to timing and method of application. Where P requirement is high, placing all the P with the seed at sowing may increase the risks of damaging the emerging plant. Incorporation/placement of P at sowing provides a good basis for high yields, especially in low P-soils.
Key practice points
- Research observations indicate that faba bean is responsive to good P fertilisation due to the effect of phosphorus on nodule formation and function. This impacts indirectly on the nitrogen supply from biological nitrogen fixation.
- As a pre-requisite for the effective application of P fertilisers, soil samples must be taken and analysed according to national or regional standard practices to determine the soil phosphorus levels/indices following national guidelines.
- Application methods should take into account soil phosphorus index and the rate of phosphorus to be applied. Placement of P close to seed is important on low P index soils. This is achieved using combined drilling where the fertiliser is placed in or beside the seed row. On high P index soils, placement close to the seed is less important and broadcasting before or after sowing can be used.
Further informationWatson, C. A., Reckling, M., Preissel, S., Bachinger, J., Bergkvist, G., Kuhlman, T., Lindström, K., Nemecek, T., Cairistiona F. E. Topp, C. F. E., Vanhatalo, A., Zander, P., Murphy-Bokern, D. and Stoddard, F. L., 2017. Chapter Four - Grain legume production and use in European agricultural systems. Editor(s): Sparks, D. L. Advances in Agronomy, Volume 144, 235–303. doi.org/10.1016/bs.agron.2017.03.003 Grant, C. A., Flaten, D. N., Tomasiewicz, D. J. and Sheppard, S. C., 2001. The importance of early season phosphorus nutrition. Can. J. Plant Sci. 81(2): 211–224. Havlin, J. L., Beaton, J. D., Tisdale, S. L. and Nelson, W. L., 2014. Soil Fertility and Fertilizers. An introduction to nutrient management. 6th ed. Prentice Hall, NJ. Henry, J. L., Slinkard, A. E. and Hogg, T. J., 1995. The effect of phosphorus fertilizer on establishment, yield and quality of pea, lentil and faba bean. Can. J. Plant Sci. 75: 395–398. The Fertilizer Association of Ireland in association with Teagasc, 2019. The efficient use of phosphorus in agricultural soils. Technical Bulletin Series – No. 4, February 2019 (Booklet). www.fertilizer-assoc.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/The-Efficient-Use-of-Phosphorus-In-Agricultural-Soils-Tech-Bulletin-No.-4.pdf The Fertilizer Association of Ireland in association with Teagasc, 2017. Precise application of fertiliser. Technical Bulletin Series – No. 3, May 2017. www.teagasc.ie/publications/2017/precise-application-of-fertiliser.php The Fertilizer Association of Ireland in association with Teagasc, 2015. Soil Sampling - Why & How? Technical Bulletin Series – No. 1, October 2015. www.fertilizer-assoc.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Fert-Assoc-Tech-Bulletin-No.-1-Soil-Sampling.pdf
Feeding lucerne to dairy cows
OutcomeThe inclusion of lucerne in a grass or maize-based forage ration reduces the need for feeding high protein rapeseed and/or soybean meal to high-performance dairy cows. The beneficial effect depends on the protein content of the grass or maize silage that is replaced and the stage of cutting of lucerne which will determine its nutritional value.
Forage quality of lucerneThe protein concentration of lucerne silage (18-22% of dry matter) is significantly higher than that of maize silage (about 8%) and good quality grass silage (14%). This benefit is off-set by a lower metabolisable energy content. Farmers can use lucerne to substitute grass silage or maize silage without affecting animal performance. This provides the foundation for reducing supplementary feeding costs. For example, replacing 3 kg dry matter of maize silage with lucerne silage balanced by extra cereal to raise the starch content reduces the need for rapeseed meal by 1.3 kg. Lucerne is more palatable than grass and maize silage. This means that the lower energy content of the lucerne is partly compensated by higher forage intakes. Milk output is maintained while supplementary protein feeding can be reduced, although the starch component of the concentrate supplement will need to be increased where lucerne replaces maize silage or other whole-crop cereals. In supporting milk production, lucerne is similar to red clover (another legume forage) as a high-protein forage that is fed together with grass or maize silage, although lucerne leads to improved milk quality compared to red clover. Lucerne has a greater buffering capacity than maize silage and can have a beneficial effect on rumen pH. Replacing some grass silage with lucerne silage in milking cow diets has been shown to increase dry matter intake, milk production and quality (Table 1). This requires formulation of diets that contain similar levels of metabolisable energy and protein. The inclusion of lucerne in the silage mix significantly increased dry matter intake and the higher forage protein content enabled a reduction in supplementary protein feeding at similar levels of milk output. Milk output per unit dry matter intake declined due to the lower digestibility of the lucerne. For overall feed costs, inclusion of lucerne in a diet can help save on bought in protein concentrate costs assuming the protein in the lucerne silage is greater than the protein in grass silage. The stage of maturity of the lucerne crop when cut for silage affects the balance between yield and nutritional quality. The protein and metabolisable energy content of the silage is high when cut at the flower bud stage. Delaying cutting to the flowering stage increases yield but decreases quality. A compromise between yield and quality is cutting at between the 10 to 30% flowering stage (See Harvesting and storing lucerne - legumehub.eu). Short forage chop length can increase feed intake in dairy cows. However, a short chop length can increase the risk of sub-acute ruminal acidosis.
Feeding strategiesEffective use of lucerne to replace other forages in the diet for milking cows is highly dependent on the nutritional value of the lucerne and the quality of the forage it replaces. Increasing lucerne silage in the ration will reduce the requirement for purchased protein, particularly where it is replacing whole-crop cereal or maize silage (although more cereal grain may be required to balance the ration for starch). The relative prices of these feeds determine whether including lucerne can be a cost-effective option. Home-grown high-protein forages, such as lucerne, become more competitive as the cost of imported protein ingredients increases. Lucerne silage has higher levels of calcium than grass silage. As is the case with all high calcium feeds, feeding lucerne to cows before calving might increase the risk of hypocalcaemia (milk fever due to calcium deficiency) when milk production starts around calving time. This is because high calcium intake before calving affects the hormonal mechanisms that control calcium mobilisation, increasing the risk of low blood calcium levels after calving.
Key practice points
- Lucerne can substitute grass silage in dairy rations without compromising animal performance.
- Depending on the forage quality that lucerne replaces in the diet, savings can be made in supplementary protein costs.
- Starch levels need to be maintained when substituting maize silage or other whole-crop cereal with lucerne.
- Stage of cutting is an important consideration for forage quality but also to aid regrowth and persistency. Cutting at the bud stage will maximise quality but it is advised to leave until the early flower stage to gain extra yield and maintain plant health.
- A shorter chop length increases forage intake.
Drill-seeding of soybean
OutcomeGood crop establishment is the key to high soybean yields. Practical experience has shown that drill seeders are suitable for achieving high yields. Drill seeders sow in narrow rows which contribute to an early canopy closure which increases the competitiveness of the crop against weeds and reduces the risk of soil erosion.
Drill-seeding in practiceDrill seeders are widely used for arable field crops, especially small-grained cereals. Drill seeders are also known as solid crop seeders because the rows are narrow. The seed is placed in the soil at the set depth in rows using hoes or disks (known as coulters) drawn through the soil. Drill seeding is a robust technology that can also be used to sow seed into minimally cultivated soils. While the seeding depth and distance between rows is set, the distance between individual seeds within the rows is not. The spacing of the plants in the row depends on the seed flow from a seed tank to the coulters. The older machines use metered gravity feed while more modern machines use compressed air to carry the seed. Drill seeders are generally lower-cost and are more widely available than precision seeders. They are also operated at higher speeds resulting in faster sowing. This results in a good combination of effective crop establishment at a low cost for machinery and labour. Drill seeding has better results on small, uneven fields as the area is more evenly filled with plants. The disadvantage of drill seeding is the lack of control over seed spacing within the row as well as greater variation in seed depth compared with precision seeders.
Basic functional componentsSeed metering and seed transfer within drill seeders determine the distribution of seeds in the row and seed rate. Mechanical (gravity) or pneumatic (compressed air) mechanisms are used. Mechanical seed meters supply and distribute seeds using gravity flow. The metering mechanism is situated directly under a seed hopper with one meter for each row. These meters are driven by a single shaft that extends to the full width of the seeder. The shaft is rotated by a land wheel that links the flow of seed to the forward speed. The fluted roller is the most widely used mechanism. This type of meter is adjusted for different sized seeds and seeding rates by regulating a flap on the fluted roller and by adjusting the velocity ratio, i.e., the speed of rotation of the fluted roller in relation to the forward speed of the drill. Most mechanical seed drills are 3–4 meters wide. Pneumatic seed distribution systems use compressed air to transfer seed from a central tank to the coulters. Hydraulically powered onboard fans create an active air stream which passes seeds to a distribution head. This splits the seed flow into the individual delivery tubes that open into the coulters. There are two types of pneumatic seeders: those that have a flow meter for each tube, coulter and row and those that have a single central metering mechanism before the seed flow is split between the tubes to the coulters. The main advantage of the pneumatic drills is that a wider working width and forward speed is possible because the air flow can carry seeds several meters on either side of the tractor. There is however a higher mechanical impact on the seed which can reduce the germination rate of soybean. The air flow can also remove powdery inoculants that have not been applied using adhesives. [caption id="attachment_18487" align="aligncenter" width="395"] Amazon grain drill, with gravity seed metering/delivering mechanism, provides row width of 150 mm.[/caption] The coulter options Coulters open the slot in the soil and place the seed at the required depth. There are two most common types of coulters: anchor and disk (single disk or double disk) and various combinations of these. The choice depends on typical soil texture and amount of plant residues on the soil surface. Disk-anchor combinations are sometimes used where the first coulter improves the seedbed by cutting crop residues and loosening heavy soil and the second seeding coulter opens the slot for the seeds. Covering the seeds The seeder should place the seeds in the slot on a firm moist soil layer and cover the seeds evenly to the required depth. There should be good contact between the seed and the soil. This is achieved using press wheels or rollers. This operation improves seed contact with the soil, with the moisture of the lower soil layers and promotes uniform germination. As covering devices press wheels, rollers, chains, drags and packers are used. Seed drills need to be calibrated to ensure the right amount of seed is released per unit area. This seed needs to be evenly distributed in the rows at a uniform depth. Careful calibration of the seeder ensures that the target seeding rate is achieved. The forward speed needs to be limited to 6 km/hour so that the coulters have time to open the slot and place the seed evenly. Excessive speed leads to uneven seeding with gaps in parts of rows and bunching of plants in other parts. A good drill should guarantee that the seeds are placed evenly at the same depth in good contact with the soil and that the seeds are well covered with a layer of soil for better germination.
Special agronomic aspectsDrill seeders were developed for sowing cereal crops, traditionally with narrow row spacing (12-25 cm). In practice, drill seeding of soybean using narrow rows results in following benefits and limitations: Narrow rows speed up canopy closure The yield potential of any crop depends on the amount of light intercepted by the green canopy from crop emergence to maturity. Narrow row spacing reduces the time to canopy closure supporting this fundamental driver of yield. Early canopy closure also reduces evaporation of water from the soil, suppresses weeds, and reduces the risk of soil erosion. The rapid canopy cover may also stimulate pods setting higher up in the plant. This makes harvesting easier and reduces losses of low pods. [caption id="attachment_18495" align="aligncenter" width="431"] Seedlings of soybean, narrow-row sowed in 150 mm rows.[/caption] Research conducted in the northern steppe zone of Ukraine (Shepilova, 2009) showed that crops sown at 15 cm row widths reached full canopy closing when the plants had 3-5 nodes. Crops with 30 cm rows reached full canopy closure at budding to flowering (Growth Stage R1-R2). Crops with 70 cm rows did not close until flowering and pod formation (Growth Stage R2-R3). A similar effect is shown in Table 1. As a robust seeding technology, drill seeding opens up the possibility to use different soil tillage systems for growing soybean:
- Seeding in a conventional tillage system with a seedbed consisting typically of a firm lower layer at a depth of 3-4 cm, covered by a loose upper soil layer.
- Seeding in a reduced or conservational tillage system without a specially prepared seedbed. This reduces soil disturbance, evaporation and fuel consumption. Additionally, seeding into a mulch of plant debris from the previous crop is enabled which helps to reduce the risk for soil erosion.
Further informationJoseph, J., 2016. Benefits for soil & yield with direct drilling approach. Farm Herefordshire. www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBdruGJzkYA (accessed 19.11.2020) Agriculture XPRT. Seed drills. Equipment for crop cultivation in Europe, website: www.agriculture-xprt.com/crop-cultivation/seed-drills/products/location-europe (accessed 19.11.2020) Pöttinger Landtechnik GmbH. Seed drills, website: www.poettinger.at/en_in/produkte/kategorie/sm/seed-drills (accessed 19.11.2020)
Winter pea in south-east Europe
OutcomeThe experience and knowledge accumulated is applicable across the south-east Europe region. Pea for forage or grain establishes a nitrogen-fixing symbiosis with the pea nodule bacteria Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae, which is naturally widespread in the European soils. This symbiosis is important for maintaining soil fertility. The inclusion of winter pea in crop rotation as a precursor of other crops reduces the nitrogen fertiliser use. The early harvest of winter pea provides the possibilities for additional economic use of the agricultural land. The intensive growth and development of green mass occurs in April and May when rainfall is sufficient to ensure an intensive growth without irrigation. Forage crops reach mowing maturity at the end of May. As an over-wintering crop, winter pea protects soil from wind and water erosion.
Pea in BulgariaPea has been grown in Bulgaria for centuries. It became a widespread crop in the 19th century, when its cultivation expanded in northern Bulgaria as a forage crop, and in southern Bulgaria as a vegetable crop. The cultivation of pea for both dry grain and forage became popular in the 20th century. For many years, the efforts of breeders and farmers were concentrated on forage pea grown in mixtures with cereals. Gradually, the area occupied by pea increased and reached 54,000 ha in 1967. It decreased to 10,000 ha in the period 1975 to 1980. Significant growth of the areas occupied by peas was observed during the period 1983 and 1988 when it was recognised as a perspective forage crop and the areas reached 150,000 ha. The reform in agriculture, which started in 1989, disrupted cultivar maintenance and seed production and caused a decline in production to only 10,000 ha in 1993. Interest of private farmers has increased since 2000 and the area of forage, grain and vegetable pea has recovered to over 50,000 ha. Vegetable pea accounts for about 14% of the area.
Winter pea cultivarsThere are three Bulgarian cultivars of winter fodder peas which are preferred by farmers: Mir, Pleven 10 and Vesela.
- Mir yields 33 to 55 t/ha of forage or 2.5–3.0 t/ha of grain. It is characterised with rapid growth and development in early spring. It is a great precursor for tobacco and forage maize. It performs well on all types of soil but does not tolerate acidic saline or poorly drained soils.
- Pleven 10 is a forage cultivar that grows 140 to 200 cm tall. It is particularly frost tolerant. It is ready for mowing in late May - beginning of June. Yields of forage are 33–35 t/ha. Grain yields amount to 2.0-2.5 t/ha.
- Vesela is grown for forage and dry grain for feed. It matures as a forage crop in early May. Yields of forage are 33–35 t/ha. Grain yields account for 2.5 to 3.5 t/ha.
Key practice points
Preceding cropThe basic requirement for the preceding crop is to leave the soil clear of weeds and ready for soil tillage. Suitable preceding crops are cereals (wheat barley, triticale, rye and oat). Sunflower is less suitable and maize is unsuitable. Pea does not tolerate sowing after itself and other legume crops. It is recommended to produce pea not more frequently than once in five years.
Soil tillageShallow cultivation (5–10 cm) after the harvest of the preceding crop conserves soil moisture while stimulating the germination of weeds and volunteer cereals. This is usually followed by ploughing and conventional cultivation. Reduced tillage is an option especially with dry soils and where continued drought is expected, for example in southern Bulgaria. This commonly comprises disk harrowing at 10–15 cm deep.
Sowing date and ratePea should be sown by mid-October in northern Bulgaria and by early November in southern Bulgaria. Winter cultivars are sown with 120–150 germinating seeds per m-2 or 160–180 kg/ha. The peas are sown in a row (row spacing 12–15 cm) at a depth of 6–8 cm depending on the seed size and soil type. Rolling is required.
FertilisationProductive pea crops require a good supply of phosphorus and potassium. Applications of moderate amounts of phosphorous (60–80 kg/ha P2O5) and potassium (40–50 kg/ha K2O) are commonly used. It should be applied with basic tillage in autumn. Phosphorus fertilisation contributes to a better development of the root system and increases disease resistance. A small amount of nitrogen (20–30 kg/ha) incorporated during soil tillage before sowing can be useful as a starter in poor soils when the symbiosis with rhizobia is slow to establish.
Plant protection measuresThe most economically important pests in pea seed production are the pea weevils Bruchus pisorum L. and Tychius quinquepunctatus L. They are widespread throughout the country and can cause damage of the crop up to 100%. Timely treatment of crops with insecticides is important for successful control of these pests. The initial treatment should be done at the beginning of flowering. Economically important diseases are Ascochyta pisi and Erysiphe pisi. Immediate ploughing of crop residues after harvest to avoid spore dispersal from diseased plants is recommended against diseases.
HarvestThe optimal stage for harvesting for forage is at the end of flowering/early pod setting to get the best combination of forage yield and quality. When the harvest time is delayed, dry matter yield can increase while the forage quality declines. Harvesting for grain is difficult because these forage-type varieties lodge, ripen unevenly, and the pods and seeds are easily damaged by moisture. Traditionally, the grain is dried in the sun after harvest. The seeds are cleaned and stored.
More informationAs part of the European project „Legumes Translated“ ID 817634, www.legumestranslated.eu, aiming to promote the cultivation and use of leguminous crops in Europe – the units of Bulgarian Legumes Network /BGLN/ Fodder Institute crops -Pleven, Agricultural Academy /AA/, Dobruzhanski Agricultural Institute /AA/-General Toshevo, Institute Plant Genetic Resources, Sadovo offer basic seeds of Bulgarian varieties of fodder pea, various materials related to its cultivation.
Feeding faba bean to poultry in practice
Home-grown faba bean for organic poultryUwe Brede and Babett Löber grow field bean cultivar Bilbo on their organic farm on Domaen Niederbeisheim, near the German city of Kassel. They keep laying hens and young hens, together about 30,000 birds. 100% organic feed rations is a matter of course for them. Faba bean is a valuable home-grown source of protein. They took over the farm in 1995 and switched to organic farming in the same year. Non-inversion (ploughless) tillage was introduced soon after organic conversion. „Today we can till our light limestone soils very efficiently and quickly“, reports Mr Brede. „The minimal tillage system with power harrowing instead of ploughing has established itself and has become an indispensable part of our business.“ Uwe Brede is a pioneer of organic agriculture. He is fully committed to a cyclical flow of nutrients on the farm. Organic seed production and the use of 100% organic feed rations in his laying and young hens is part of this.
Participatory plant breeding and cultivar maintenanceUwe Brede co-founded the Bäuerliche Ökosaatzucht e.G. as a cooperative. One focus of the co-operative is the systematic identification and maintenance of crop cultivars for organic farming. This includes maintaining and multiplying the field bean Bilbo. Wheat, barley, rye, triticale, spring barley, oat and grain legumes are multiplied on the Niederbeisheim estate on around 90 hectares (ha). In addition, in cooperation with a seed company for fine-seeded legumes, red clover is propagated on 20 ha. In total, the farm has around 150 ha of arable land and 27 ha of grassland. There is capacity for around 10,500 laying hens and for the rearing of around 18,000 young hens. “The development of this operation was driven by good local conditions and favourable market developments“ says Mr Brede. “This produces a high-quality organic fertiliser for our crops giving us a good nutrient balance from the closed nutrient cycle“ All eggs are marketed with a partner company. There the eggs are sorted, packed and marketed. The laying hens have been fed 100% organically for years with a consistently good laying performance. A needs-based amino acid supply in the organic rations is important. With purely home-grown protein feed components, this can only be achieved by upgrading the rations using valuable feed components such as oil cakes (Table 1). Dehulling of faba bean enhances the value of the home-grown protein feed components further. This takes place in the on-farm mill where the hulls are separated from the seed and removed via the air classifier. And it works very well: de-hulling increases the protein content from 24 to 36%.
Local faba bean for conventional egg productionManfred Hermanns keeps 54,000 hens in barn, free range and organic systems. He mixes the feed himself and also uses faba bean as a domestic source of protein. Mr Hermanns is convinced of the advantages of faba bean. „Faba bean is home-grown, has short transport routes, is GM and gluten free, and the crop supports pollinating insects. But it wasn‘t as simple as it sounds right from the start. When I tried to feed field bean to the hens a few years ago, it was a flop. The hens rejected the feed due to the high content of the poorly digestible glycosides vicin and convicin.“ Farmers are now growing new cultivars such as Tiffany, which are low in glycosides and are more palatable for hens. Mr Hermanns started cautiously with a 1% inclusion of faba bean which he increased gradually to about 7% (Table 2). The raw protein content and the content of the amino acids lysine, methionine and threonine were more favourable than expected. This has a positive effect on the health of the laying hens. It took the farmer several years to optimise the ration. The reward is a healthy flock, hardly any problems with feather pecking and pest infestation. And if there are any problems, which can also be caused by external influences such as high tempera-tures, Mr Hermanns uses the opportunity to immediately vary the composition of his own feed ration. „The feed is better and even cheaper,“ says the farmer happily. He has acquired a small feed mixer consisting of three different mills and a conical mixer. He grows 36% of the animal feed himself. Except for soybean, the rest comes from other farms in the region. Mr Hermanns would like to replace the soybean with sunflower meal in the long term. Due to the regional production concept, the eggs cost on average two cent more than comparable eggs from other farms. „This is only possible because we communicate the added value of our products to our customers and because they want to support our idea,“ explains the farmer.
Further informationBellof, G., Halle, I. and Rodehutscord, M., 2016. Ackerbohnen, Futtererbsen und Blaue Süßlupinen in der Geflügelfütterung. UFOP-Praxisinformation. Jeroch, H., Lipiec, A., Abel, H., Zentek, J., Grela, E. and Bellof, G., 2016. Körnerleguminosen als Futter- und Nahrungsmittel. DLG-Verlag, Frankfurt.
OutcomeSuccessful soybean harvesting is about recovering the highest proportion of the grain with the best possible quality and purity at the optimal time.
Harvest timeHarvest should start when the seed moisture drops to 13–15%. The rate of drying primarily depends on temperature and precipitation. The moisture content in the seeds can differ within a day by 5%. If the seeds are too damp in the morning, they can dry during the day. The moist phase persists longer as the nights become longer and colder. Wind accelerates drying. If after mid-October the seed moisture content is higher and no better weather in sight, it is also possible to start harvest up to 20% moisture, but then drying is required which involves additional costs. Losses increase and seed quality is reduced with delayed harvest. The following situations can prevail:
- The crop has developed under favourable conditions, leaves fall down during maturation and, within a few days, seed moisture drops to the optimal level for harvest.
- The plants are exposed to stressful conditions such as drought and/or high temperature leading to early senescence. Most of the leaves remain on the plants, while the pods and seeds are mature and ready for harvest.
- The crop is mature and not harvested on time. Losses increase due to diseases and pod shattering. This especially occurs if the pods are exposed to several cycles of wetting and drying.
PrinciplesCareful adjustment of the combine harvester is essential for a successful harvest. Soybeans have several characteristics that determine the optimum harvest practices. First, the earliest pods often form close to the ground, which means that the combine table and knife have to be guided close to the ground. A level, firm, and stone-free seedbed is a great help. The crop itself affects drying rates. A mature soybean stand is more open than a cereal stand and can dry rapidly during the day. As the pods are fragile, repeated cycles of drying and wetting increase pod shattering and loss of seeds. Timing is therefore critical if the weather is unsettled. The ideal grain moisture content is about 13%. For seed production it is about 15% because seeds at this moisture content are less vulnerable to mechanical damage. Waiting until the crop has dried down to about 12% reduces the cost of drying after harvest. The seed moisture content must be below 15% for short term storage and about 12% for long term storage. The characteristics of the soybean itself influence the combine setting and operation. Soybeans are large and heavy but the seed coat is fragile. The grains need to be protected from the threshing forces and mechanisms, especially if the grain is used for seed production. The first protection mechanism is the crop itself. Keeping the combine well-filled with crop material protects the seed. This means ensuring the combine forward speed is high enough to prevent an empty or nearly empty threshing mechanism. Very dry seed is fragile, so the second protection mechanism is harvesting before the seed becomes too dry. Harvesting soy with a seed moisture content below 12% increases the rate of damaged beans. 15% is an optimum for seed crops. The third mechanism is adjustment of the drum speed and related concave clearance. The pods are easily threshed and so a very gentle threshing mechanism can be used with a low drum speed and open concave. This also reduces fuel consumption of the combine. A high fan speed can be used to gently separate the seed from the straw. Lastly, the seed should be handled gently in the grain tank, in the augers and during transport by not emptying tanks and augers completely and by minimising auger speeds and drop heights. [caption id="attachment_18214" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Pouring soybean grain onto a tractor trailer[/caption]
Key practice points
- Harvest should be adjusted to the field and crop conditions. This involves appropriate adjustments of the harvester forward speed, airflow, drum speed, concave clearance, and sieves.
- The crop bulk protects the seed so the forward speed should be maintained for sufficient material flow through the threshing mechanisms to reduce damage to the seeds.
- The cutter bar should be kept close to the ground (3–6 cm). To allow cutting close to the soil surface, forward speed should be kept moderate at no more than 5 km/h. Stones or an uneven surface can limit the lowest possible cutting height as damage through stones or contamination with soil should be avoided.
- Ideally, a flexible cutter bar should be used that allows gliding on the ground and removal of stones and such, reducing losses by about 10% to a minimum.
- The header reel should be carefully adjusted to reduce contact with the crop. Reel speed revolutions should be synchronised with the harvester speed – usually 25% faster.
- Drum speed should be kept to 400–600 rotations per minute, depending on seed moisture.
- The sieves should be adjusted according to the seed size.
Further informationTaifun-Tofu GmbH, Landwirtschaftliches Zentrum für Sojaanbau und Entwicklung, 2020. Threshing soybean properly. https://youtu.be/ojoqDzMNQGo Legume Hub. www.legumehub.eu Taifun Soy Info 13: Threshing soybeans correctly Taifun Soy Info 14: Flex cutting bars
Harvesting and storing lucerne
OutcomeAttention to detail results in a good balance between yield and nutritional quality as affected by the stage of maturity. This also supports crop persistence and helps reduce weed invasion.
Harvesting lucerneHarvesting lucerne is different to harvesting grass in several important respects. The date of harvest is less critical for nutritional quality compared with grass. The digestibility and palatability does not decline after the ideal harvest date as much as in grass. However, the crop’s fragile leaves are susceptible to loss during handling. A lower sugar content compared with ryegrass requires greater attention to achieving good fermentation. Good harvest management of this perennial legume is about achieving an optimum balance between harvest yield and allowing the crop to build up root reserves for over-wintering so that the crop persists from year to year. Optimising harvesting means balancing several objectives: harvest yield, nutritional quality, crop persistence and crop health. For established crops in their second and subsequent years, harvesting at the flower bud stage results in a high protein content. Delaying harvest to the flowering stage results in a higher yield but with a decline in quality. Harvesting when 10 to 30% of the flowers are open is a reasonable compromise between yield and quality. Repeated early cutting (before flowering) affects plant health, reduces persistency and increases weed invasion. There is sufficient build-up of food reserves in the roots for good regrowth and over-wintering by the time the crop starts to flower. As a general rule, a crop should be allowed to reach 50% flowering at least once each year. Once established, similar to perennial ryegrass, lucerne can be cut a number of times through the growing season, generally from May onwards. In a four cut regime (about late May, early July, mid-August, and October), the first two cuts together account for about 70% of the annual yield while the last cut accounts for only about 10%. October harvesting reduces the root reserves for over-wintering. The decision to harvest in October is critical for allowing the plant to build up root reserves for the winter. Unlike grasses, where the growing point is at the plant base at soil level, lucerne’s growing points are higher up on the stem. Therefore it is important to leave a 7 cm high stubble. In addition to enabling rapid regrowth, this relatively high stubble also aids wilting, drying and crop handling. Avoiding loss of the leaf material is a priority in crop handling because the leaves account for up to 70% of protein. About 90% of the vitamins and minerals are stored in the leaves. Turning and swathing should be done when the crop is damp, for example early in the morning. [caption id="attachment_17645" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Lucerne sowing[/caption]
Conservation and storageConserving lucerne requires more attention to detail than grass. The forage can be difficult to ensile due to the lower sugar content. Higher dry matter is needed for clamped silage (around 35%). This reduces the risk of clostridial fermentation and butyric acid production that reduces feed intake, production, and is harmful to general animal health. The use of an additive i.e. acids, molasses or homofermentative bacteria is also essential to promote the lactic acid producing bacteria for effective fermentation. Wilting (partly field-drying) lowers the moisture content and increases the concentration of sugars allowing the silage to stabilise quickly. This reduces the amount of additive needed. There is a potential for mold spoiling lucerne silage at higher moisture levels, especially in big bale silage. Due to the more fibrous stems, the lucerne is more difficult than grass to compress to exclude the oxygen. Therefore a higher dry matter (40-50%) is needed for baled silage. However, over-wilting with more than 50% dry matter makes compression more difficult. The fibrous stems also require at least four wraps of plastic to prevent them piercing the wrap and allowing oxygen into the bale. There a number of simple tests that can be used to estimate forage dry matter content. The first is hand squeezing a small ball of lucerne cut into 1–2 cm lengths. The dry matter is about 30–40% when the ball falls apart slowly with no free moisture and little moisture on the hand. When the ball springs apart quickly the dry matter is over 40%. This can also be estimated with a microwave oven. A large handful is weighed to the nearest gram in a microwavable container and placed in the microwave oven along with a cup of water. The sample is dried in 3 minute intervals at high power until it begins to feel dry, then dried at 30 second intervals with the sample being weighed after every interval. Once the weight of the sample does not change this final weight is recorded. The percent dry weight is calculated from the final dried weight as a percent of the original weight. Lucerne silage takes approximately six weeks, a similar amount of time for grass silage. [caption id="attachment_17649" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Lucerne silage[/caption]
Key practice points
- Forage yield, quality, re-growth and persistency depends on the timing of cutting. Leaf cutting until the early flower stage to gain extra yield and maintain plant health.
- A 7 cm stubble helps rapid regrowth and the drying of the swath.
- Leaves are easily damaged or shattered when drying, reduce mechanical movement of the cut crop.
- Use additives to aid fermentation.
- Baled silage requires a higher dry matter for good preservation than clamped silage.
Mites in soybean production
OutcomeSpider mite populations can reach damaging levels very quickly. Infestation can reduce the soybean yield by 40–60%. The protection of the crop from stresses, such as herbicide damage, reduces the risk of damaging infestation. Where chemical control is permitted, detection of outbreaks in the early stage helps to implement effective control measures. Monitoring should start in late June and continue throughout July and August. Early treatment decreases damage and spot treatment of localised patches of infection near field boundaries may be sufficient.
Biology of the spider mite and the two-spotted spider miteMature spider mite females are 0.5 mm long and egg shaped. Summer generation females are yellow green, while winter generation females are more red. Males are smaller and yellow, with a sharp-pointed abdomen. Eggs are oval and approximately 0.14 mm in diameter. Freshly laid eggs are glassy-white. The eggs become more yellow later. The first immature stage (larvae) is around 0.5 mm long and yellow, with three pairs of legs. The following nymphal stages and adults have four pairs of legs. The two-spotted spider mite is a cosmopolitan species and can feed on a range of host plant species. Adults are the size of salt grains and are greenish-yellow to brown, with two black spots. Morphological traits, biology, damage and control are similar to Tetranychus atlanticus.
BiologyMites have 10 to 14 generations per year. Overwintering females lay their eggs on wild plants in spring. Mites migrate from wild plants on field margins to crops and create colonies very fast. These are usually covered with a fine silky web which protects them from predators and adverse weather conditions. Colonies consist of individuals of all growing stages. This makes chemical control more difficult. Populations rapidly increase during June. Mites reach their highest abundance in July and August. Daytime temperatures over 30°C greatly increase the risk of damage. Natural enemies and diseases of the mites that counter the build-up of infestations, spread in cooler humid conditions. [caption id="attachment_16684" align="aligncenter" width="906"] Mites attack. Photograph: IFVCNS[/caption]
Crop monitoring and detectionA 10x magnifying lens is very helpful for the visual detection. The easiest way to detect an infestation is to tap a leaf over a sheet of white paper on which the mites are visible as dark, moving dots. Webs on the leaf surface indicate an infestation. The mites migrate into the soybean crop particularly if the vegetation in field margins is mown or otherwise disturbed. Neighbouring alfalfa fields pose a particular risk, as alfalfa is a preferred host plant of mites. The mites use the wind and their nets for transport, flying like a balloon (‘ballooning’). If possible, vegetation adjacent to the soybean field should not be mown during dry periods because this can stimulate migration into the crop. Mites pierce leaves to suck sap causing yellow dots which expand and merge over time. Infested leaves become yellow or bronze. Some leaf drop follows. Webbing may also be present under the leaves. Mites usually populate the upper young leaves but in some cases of heavier infestation, whole plants can be covered with web. Damaged plants are smaller, their transpiration increases and photosynthesis is less effective. They also mature earlier, producing fewer pods and lower yields. Symptoms of infestation can easily be confused with water stress, improper herbicide application, or leaf diseases. The first symptoms occur at field edges, and later the whole field can be infested.
ControlSpider mites are controlled by various natural enemies. These are mainly predatory mites (e.g., species of the Phytoseidae), lesser mite destroyer/spider mite destroyer (Stethorus punctillum), the common green lacewing (Chrysoperla carnae), brown lacewings (Hemerobiidae) and predatory bugs (Orius spp.). These beneficial insects should be supported to avoid mass reproduction of spider mites. In addition, all cultivation measures that reduce drought stress will help. These include attention at sowing to establish a crop that competes against weeds avoiding severe herbicide use that stresses the crop. Rain is the farmer’s best friend in case of spider mites because the spider mite population usually collapses when rain follows a warm dry period. The mites are then attacked by the fungal antagonist Neozygites floridana. The fungus requires 12–24 hours of weather conditions with less than 29°C in combination with 90% humidity to spread throughout the whole population. Infected mites can be recognized by their waxy and dull structure. They die after 1–3 days. There are no synthetic acaricides approved for the control of mites in soybean in the European Union. Outside the EU, there are only a few acaricides available for chemical control based on chlorpyrifos, dimethoate (both organophosphates), bifenthrin (a pyrethroid) or abamectin (avermectins). Some of these pesticides are available for use in European countries outside the EU. These are often not able to effectively control an infestation. [caption id="attachment_16688" align="aligncenter" width="439"] Tetranychus urticae, 200x magnification. Photograph:
State Horticultural College and Research Institute
- Cultural and biological control is the cornerstone of managing these pests. Good crop establishment (sowing date, crop densities etc.) can reduce the damage of this pest.
- It is important to prevent weeds since a wide range of weed species host mites in the crop. These plants can host several generations and provide the starting point of infestations.
- Irrigation has beneficial effects on soybean. It also helps control mites.
- The crop is particularly sensitive to infestation at flowering (R1 and BBCH stages 60 to 69). This period is critical for yield formation. Where chemical control is an option, a decision to treat should focus on protecting the crop at this time. Although infestation in later growth phases results in increased pod shattering, the negative effects on the yield are not as high.
- Regular and systematic field observations is an important part of crop protection planning.
- The economic threshold for implementing a curative treatment is when 50% of plants with symptoms are observed on field borders, or when there are on average more than 5 specimens on one leaf.
- For chemical control, acaricides registered for this purpose are legal in some European countries outside the EU. In cases of severe attacks, spraying may be repeated after 7 to 10 days. The use of larger quantities of water than is used for other spraying purposes combined with higher sprayer pressure enhances the effect because the colonies inhabit the back of the leaves. Treatments during the hottest daytime periods should be avoided.
- The same acaricide should not be used twice in the same season because spider mites are able to quickly develop resistance.
- When chemical control is used the lowest effective amount of the respective pesticide, using equipment that is properly calibrated, should be used.
- Following the above-mentioned suggestions will greatly assist in managing spider mites populations. Other activities that will assist include encouraging predators and beneficial insects and monitoring mite populations.
Feeding pea to poultry
Experience at the Vogt organic farm: peas for laying henThis farm in Lower Franconia in Germany converted to organic in 1987. Starting with 60 laying hens, the flock have been kept in a repurposed cowshed with an adjoining orchard meadow since 1991. The flock is now 500 hens. The entire home-grown pea crop is fed to the laying hens. Every eight weeks, a mobile milling and mixing plant comes to process and blend the components with a protein supplement called Concentrate Bio-L-Konz 40 from the Kaisermühle. This protein supplement consists mainly of soya cake, sunflower cake, corn gluten and minerals. By using the higher quality components such as husked spelt, naked oats and peas, the proportion of this highprotein supplement can be reduced from the recommended 40% to 30%. [caption id="attachment_16620" align="alignleft" width="435"] Laying hen. Photogaph: Werner Vogt-Kaute[/caption] Depending on the age of the hens, some lime and salt must then be added. While wheat and naked oats can be crushed, spelt and peas must be milled finely. „Coarse fragments of pea hull or husks are sorted out by the laying hens,“explains Kornelia Vogt. The goal is a feed with 0.3% methionine and an energy content of around 10 MJ/kg. No oil is added to the feed so that the energy content remains low and the laying hens are encouraged to eat more. With this ration, the laying performance reaches just over 90% in the young hen (about 25 eggs/month), but then remains constant between 80 and 90% for several months. The laying hens remain on the farm for 16 to 18 months. The stability of the egg affects egg handling, storage and use. While the proportion of pea used here is relatively low, experience at Vogt shows that even this low inclusion boosts performance while replacing cereals. „Including pea reduces the cereal grain content and the associated non-starch polysaccharides which are anti-nutritional factors for poultry” the plant manager explains. Up to 20% peas are fed in the ration, which can also be tannin-containing, violet-flowered varieties „We have never observed a decrease in laying performance when using tannin-containing cultivars at these inclusion rates. But we limit the inclusion of faba bean with pea to 10%.“ Martin and Inge Ritter from Ostheim vor der Rhön in Lower Franconia converted their business to organic farming in 2000. At conversion, the farm business was based on a dairy herd and a livery service for local horse owners. The livery service was retained but the dairy herd was sold off. New enterprises were established and son Tim joined the company as a trained poultry farmer. Two turkey sheds were built. The turkey chicks are first reared by a specialised organic rearing company until they are about 40 days old. From then on, 2000 animals are kept in the open shed with free run of the adjoining woodland. Family Ritter also likes to bring male turkeys together with female, because the flock is calmer as a result. The breed used is chosen to meet market demand. Some of the turkeys are marketed from the farm, as are a few broilers and geese.
Feeding turkeys is demandingThe turkeys receive a complete feed in the first stages of life to give them the best start. Turkey chicks are the most demanding of all poultry species in terms of feeding. In the later growing and finishing phase, Martin Ritter uses his own feed mix produced by a mobile grinding and mixing plant. The home-grown ingredients are rolled to give a coarse-textured feed. At the beginning of the finishing period, the proportion of the home-grown component is 10%, at the end 50%. Peas are always included. „Tannin-containing pea is used without any problems,“ explains the plant manager. „Feed conversion efficiency declines towards the end of the fattening period when the animals eat endlessly. It is therefore important to reduce the cost of the ration. Weight at slaughter will not be affected by reducing the ration quality if the daily gains in the initial phase are adequate.“ [caption id="attachment_16613" align="alignnone" width="436"] Turkeys on open pasture. Photograph: Werner Vogt-Kaute[/caption]
Further informationBellof, G., Halle, I., Rodehutscord, M., 2016. Ackerbohnen, Futtererbsen und Blaue Süßlupinen in der Geflügelfütterung. UFOP-Praxisinformation. Jeroch, H., Lipiec, A., Abel, H., Zentek, J., Grela, E., Bellof, G., 2016. Körnerleguminosen als Futter- und Nahrungsmittel. DLG-Verlag, Frankfurt. Demonstrationsnetzwerk Erbse/Bohne, website: www.demoneterbo.agrarpraxisforschung.de Union zur Förderung von Öl- und Proteinpflanzen e.V., UFOP: www.ufop.de/medien/downloads/agrar-info/praxisinformationen/tierernaehrung/
Feeding quality of faba bean for poultry
Nutritional componentsThe nutritional components of faba bean are summarised in Table 1. Grain legumes are used in livestock feed primarily for their protein content. Faba bean with 12% moisture is about 26% protein. In addition to crude protein, faba bean is high in carbohydrate, especially starch, contributing to the metabolisable energy. The nutrient content of faba bean is influenced by growing condition and the cultivar used. The protein digestibility and amino acid profile are the major determinants of the feeding value. The protein is highly digestible. On the amino acid profile side, faba bean is rich in lysine, but relatively low in methionine and cystine. The limiting factor for the use of faba bean in poultry rations is the low content of methionine. The mineral contents are similar to that of cereals. Faba bean contains less phosphorus than soy and rapeseed meal. The phosphorus is partially bound to phytic acid which reduces phosphorus absorption without the addition of the enzyme phytase.
Anti nutritional factorsAnti-nutritional components adversely affect digestion and animal health. Vicine/convicine and tannins are the most important antinutritive substances in faba bean, followed by protease inhibitors, lectins and saponins. For poultry feed, only low vicine/convicine faba bean cultivars should be used. Using standard vicine/convicine containing cultivars, there is a decline in performance when inclusion rates exceed 10%. In addition, tannins found in the seed coat of dark seeds from dark flowering cultivars reduce food intake due to their bitter taste. Cultivars containing tannins are easily recognisable by their purple flowers, but also by a black spot on the stipules and a darker grain colour. Tanninrelated effects on protein digestibility and enzyme binding play a role only at high inclusion rates (>20%). Other anti-nutritive ingredients such as protease inhibitors, lectins and saponins are present in only small amounts in faba bean and have no adverse effects at typical rates of inclusion.
Feed valueThe feeding value depends on the quantity of protein, the nutritional quality of that protein, and the energy feed values determined by the digestibility of the nutrients. Protein quality in poultry nutrition is characterised by the content of the most important essential amino acids, namely lysine, methionine and cysteine, threonine and tryptophan. The digestibility of the amino acids is also important, which varies both, between amino acids and between different grain legumes (Table 2).
Maximum rate of inclusion of faba bean in poultry feedThe quantities used depend on age and performance phase of the poultry. The use of faba bean for poultry is limited by the methionine content (Figure 2). But the levels of vicine/convicine of cultivars also limit use to maximum 10% in feed ration (Table 3). Nevertheless, the methionine content of field bean is more than 20% higher than that of most cereals. This means that faba bean can be used to replace other protein-rich components, e.g., oilseed meals and corn gluten, and synthetic amino acids. A higher proportion of own or domestic raw materials can be used. [caption id="attachment_16578" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Laying hen Lohmann Brown.[/caption]
Further informationBellof, G., Halle, I. and Rodehutscord, M., 2016. Ackerbohnen, Futtererbsen und Blaue Süßlupinen in der Geflügelfütterung. UFOP Praxisinformation. Jeroch, H., Lipiec, A., Abel, H., Zentek, J., Grela, E., Bellof, G., 2016. Körnerleguminosen als Futter und Nahrungsmittel. DLG-Verlag, Frankfurt.
Bugs in soybeans
Intercropping of grain pea with cereals
OutomeIntercrops usually have a higher yield than the average of the same crops grown separately. The information here can help farmers optimise the use of this type of intercropping. These intercrops are resilient and require no nitrogen fertiliser or herbicide applications. The cereal component prevents the pea component from lodging. Intercrops can make a contribution to low input systems in particular.
Steps to successful intercropping of pea and cerealsCultivar selection: Semi-leafless short-stemmed grain pea and barley are ideal intercropping partners. Experience shows that a seed mixture that combines 80% of the pure stand density for pea and 40% of the pure stand density for the cereal is a good general starting point. This ratio may be adapted to individual experiences with growth patterns of different cultivars. Semi-leafless spring and winter pea cultivars are suitable and possible matching combinations are shown in Table 1. Long-stemmed pea cultivars are often also used for forage production. Rye or triticale is a suitable partner crop for these tall pea cultivars. The pea component of the seed mixture is lower than with shorter semi-leafless pea due to the strong vegetative growth. A combination of 20–40% of pure stand seed rate for tall pea and 70% of pure stand density for rye/triticale gives good results. No field work is required between sowing and harvest due to the strong growth of the crops. It is important that the pea and cereal cultivars mature around the same time. Finding the suitable cultivar combination (same maturity) and adapted seed mixing ratios can be accomplished by setting up simple strip trials. [caption id="attachment_16382" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Forage pea (Szarvasi) and rye[/caption] Crop rotation: Producing legumes more frequently than one year in five increases the risk of soil-borne diseases that cause ‘legume fatigue’. A legume-based intercrop must be treated as a pure-stand legume crop in the rotation. Seedbed preparation: Due to the rapid development of ground cover, these cereal/pea systems are especially suitable for sowing into mulch. Otherwise, pea establishes best in well-consolidated seedbeds. Soil compaction and crust formation on the soil surface reduces plant growth and prevents good development of root nodules that fix nitrogen. Ploughing or other deep loosening may be required for heavy soils. Spring sowing on very heavy soils may require autumn ploughing, otherwise ploughing in February is sufficient. Light cultivation that preserves soil crumb structure reduces the risk of soil crusting. Application of green manure or compost is also possible. Sowing: We use a simple gravity-fed seed drill as is traditionally used for cereals. The seed must be pre-mixed before filling the drill tank. The homogeneity of the mixture should be checked regularly during sowing. Combine drills (with two tanks) can be used to sow the pea and cereals separately. Typical cereal row spacing is suitable with a sowing depth of 3–4 cm. Seeding time: Peas/cereals can be sown in autumn or spring at sowing time of the pea. Autumn sowing reduces the impact of spring and summer drought, particularly if pea flowering time occurs before drought hits the crop. This is a drought avoidance strategy and the longer growing season from autumn sowing tends to stabilise yields. The ideal sowing date in autumn is one that produces well established but small plants by winter (3–4 leaf stage). Spring sowing takes place as early as possible at the beginning of March, so that the crop can use the moisture accumulated during the winter. Pea seedlings tolerate slight frost events around -4°C. Weed control is usually not needed, but a high weed pressure can be controlled by harrowing in early stages. Tall pea/rye mixtures are particularly competitive and a completely weed-free crop is often achieved. Fertilisation: No nitrogen fertilisation is needed. Nitrogen fixed by the pea has only a small effect on the cereal. However, the cereal has been reported to stimulate nodulation. Harvest: The peas are ready to harvest when a fingernail can no longer penetrate the grain at a moisture content of 12–15%. The pods are particularly brittle and susceptible to shatter when the air is dry. Harvesting in the morning and evening, when humidity rises, reduces pod shatter. The optimum combine setting is a compromise between minimising damage to the pea seeds while harvesting as much of the cereal grain as possible. This involves the following considerations for setting the combine harvester:
- Careful use of the reel to avoid pod shattering.
- Use the crop lifters with tips pointed downwards.
- Low drum speed.
- Open concave to avoid damaging the pea grain.
- Adjust grain sieves to the pea.
- Low fan speed compared with a pure pea harvest to avoid losing the cereals (they are smaller and lighter).
- Where relevant, retraction of the vario-table with the cutter bar kept close to the table auger.
Crop performanceYield: The ratio of grain legumes to cereals in the harvested crop fluctuates for different reasons, depending on how stresses impact on the crop. The proportion of pea in the crop of autumn-sown grain pea mixtures in many trials (from 2009–2015) ranged between 30 and 80%. The crop yield (pea and barley) varied between 3 and 6 t/ha. The yields of mixtures of forage pea and rye ranged between 2.5 and 5.2 t/ ha and the share of peas in the harvest varied between 26 and 80% (Trials 2016 and 2017). [caption id="attachment_16378" align="aligncenter" width="681"] A semi-leafless protein pea and barley mixture.[/caption]
Balancing the effectsAdvantages
- More resilient cropping systems and reduced risks of crop failure. If one component fails, the second partly compensates.
- More efficient use of ressources (nutrients, water, light, land).
- No need for nitrogen fertilisation.
- Weed suppression thanks to fast and dense ground cover.
- Defence against or distraction of potential pests.
- Attraction of beneficial insects.
- Easier harvest thanks to the greatly reduced lodging and weed infestation.
- Matching the cultivars is not easy.
- Simultaneous maturation within mixed crops is required.
- Cereal quality might be inferior due to nitrogen deficiency.
- Additional expenditure in post-harvest processing to separate the pea from the cereal.
Key practice points
- Mixing of seeds of intercropping partners before sowing, prevent de-mixing during sowing (occasional control of seedtank), sowing depth according to grain legume needs.
- Start with proposed seed mixing ratios and adapt to local conditions or varieties.
- Make sure separation of the harvested crop is possible.
Further informationAlföldi T., 2015: „Anbau von Mischkulturen - Körnerleguminosen mit Getreide“, FiBL. www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAYNXCw2CiE FiBL Switzerland ongoing, Mischkulturen. www.bioaktuell.ch/pflanzenbau/ackerbau/mischkulturen.html Hauggaard-Nielsen, H., Jørnsgaard, B., Kinane, J. and Jensen, E. S., 2007. Grain legume–cereal intercropping: The practical application of diversity, competition and facilitation in arable and organic cropping systems, Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems: 23(1); 3–12.
Faba bean, grain pea, sweet lupin and soybean in poultry feeds
This UFOP publication provides an overview of the composition, feed value and possible uses of grain legumes in poultry feed. In particular, the results of feeding trials over the last ten years have been taken into account. For faba beans, both white-flowered and variegated varieties are considered in the brochure. For peas, the focus is on white-flowered varieties, as these dominate the market and are particularly suitable for poultry feed in terms of nutritional physiology. The considerations for lupins refer to the sweet blue and white lupins. The sweet yellow lupins currently play no role in cultivation. However, due to their nutrient composition, they could become attractive again for poultry feed in the future. Full-fat soybeans and soybean cake made from them are the most important feedstuffs from domestic (European) soybean cultivation.
Soybean processing systems
Growing spring-sown pea in south-east Europe
OutcomeThe information set out here helps the development of the pea crop in Bulgaria providing an example for the wider south-east Europe region. Pea is a crop with high plasticity which helps it to overcome adverse weather conditions. It uses soil resources very effectively. In addition, it is able to establish a nitrogen-fixing symbiosis with Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar Viciae bacteria to fix up to 150 kg N/ha and to add 45–70 kg N/ha to the soil for the benefit of the following crop. Thus, pea leaves a nitrogen soil reserve for the subsequent cereal crop. Pea is easy to insert into rotations with cereals (e.g., wheat) as pure stand or in mixture with a companion cereal (i.e., triticale, oat, barley). In addition, in a rotation with cereals, pea contributes to breaking the cycle of cereal diseases. It also ripens early giving the possibilities for a second crop later in the year.
Pea in BulgariaPea has been grown in Bulgaria for centuries. It became a widespread crop in the 19th century, when its cultivation expanded into northern Bulgaria as a fodder crop, and in southern Bulgaria as a vegetable crop. The cultivation of pea for both dry grain and forage became popular in the 20th century. For many years, the efforts of breeders and farmers were concentrated on forage pea grown in mixtures with cereals. Gradually, the area occupied by pea increased and reached 54,000 ha in 1967 and decreased to 10,000 ha in the period of 1975 to 1980. Significant growth of the areas occupied by pea was observed during the period between 1983 and 1988 when it was recognised as a perspective forage crop and the areas reached 150,000 ha. The reform in agriculture, which started in 1989, disrupted proper cultivar maintenance and seed production and caused another decline in production to only 10,000 ha in 1993. Interest of private farmers has increased since 2000 and the area of forage, grain and vegetable pea has recovered to over 50,000. Vegetable pea accounts for about 14% of the area. [caption id="attachment_16258" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Seeds from spring pea in the region of Pleven, North Bulgaria.[/caption]
Spring pea cultivarsThe biological characteristics of pea enable it to be grown as a spring and winter crop (Table 1). “Pleven 4” and “Kerpo” are important Bulgarian forage cultivars for spring sowing. They were bred in the Institute of Forage Crops in Pleven in northern Bulgaria. Two grain cultivars (Mistel and Kristel) were bred in the Dobruzhanski Agricultural Institute, General Toshevo, North Bulgaria. Three grain cultivars (Teddy, Amitie and Picardy) come from the Institute of Plant Genetic Resources, Sadovo, southern Bulgaria. The intensive growth and development of spring pea cultivars occur during the period May-June, when rainfall is sufficient to ensure an intensive crop development without irrigation.
- Kristal: plants are well-branched and leafy, height 67–87 cm, vegetation period 110–130 days. The 1,000-seed weight is 280 g and grain yield amounts to 4–5 t/ha. The cultivar is medium early.
- Mishel: height 50 cm, vegetation period 110–125 days. The weight of 1,000 seeds is 202 g, it is small-seeded with a grain yield of 3.5 t/ha.
- Pleven 4: plant height 100–120 cm. The pods are medium-sized usually with 4–6 seeds. The mass of 1000 seeds weighs 180–190 g. The cultivar is medium early with good resistance to powdery mildew and ascochitosis. It is grown for green mass and seeds. The vegetation of the cultivar is 90–100 days and yields 3.6–3.8 t/ha.
- Kerpo: leafy, medium in height at 60–80 cm. The leaf is compound with a maximum leaflet number of 6 that are medium in size. The 1000-seed weight is 240 to 250 g, i.e., it is small-seeded. Depending on the climatic factors, the cultivar begins flowering in late April – early May and ripens in the second half of June. The vegetation period varies from 80 to 90 days. The grain yield is 3.7–5.0 t/ha.
- Amitie: short growing period from 68 to 84 days. Seed yield is 3.2–4.5 t/ha, used for grain feeding.
- Picardy: grain yield amounts to 3.8–4.5 t/ha. Growing period is 68 to 80 days. The cultivar is suitable for dry grain for fodder and processing.
- Teddy: used in the canning and processing industries (dietary flours and additives), because of its good taste. The vegetation of the cultivar is 68 to 80 days and seed yield 3.8–4.5 t/ha.
Key practice points
Preceding cropThe basic requirement for the preceding crop is to leave the soil clear of weeds. Pea is not compatible with pea and so should not be grown more often than one in five years.
Soil tillagePloughing followed by conventional tillage is most commonly used and provides the essential compaction-free 30 cm layer. Reduced tillage should be used where severe summer drought is expected. Although adapted to a range of soils, the preferred ones of pea are those aerated, with good water holding capacity, moderate lime content and a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.
Sowing date and rateThe most suitable time for sowing spring pea is February to beginning of March (for some south-east regions it could be end of January to middle of February). Thus, the plants use the accumulated winter moisture and develop a strong root system that makes them more resistant to summer droughts. Delayed sowing reduces yields. The recommended seed rate – that can vary depending on soil characteristics and cultivar - is 100-120 germinating seeds per m-2 or 240–280 kg/ha for large seeds and 120–180 kg/ha for small seeds. The peas are sown in a row (row spacing 12–15 cm) at a depth of 6–8 cm depending on the seed size and soil type. Rolling is required.
FertilisationPea productivity is closely dependent on phosphorus and potassium fertilisation. Moderate amounts of phosphorous (60–80 kg/ha P2 O5) and potassium (40–50 kg/ha K2O) are required. It should be applied with basic tillage in the autumn. Phosphorus fertilisation contributes to a better development of the root system and also increases disease resistance. A small amount of nitrogen (20–30 kg/ha) incorporated during soil tillage before sowing can be useful as a starter in poor soils when the symbiosis with rhizobia is not yet established.
Plant protection measuresSpring pea is a weak competitor of weeds. For this reason, rapid seedling emergence, adequate crop density, pre- and post-plant tillage, and herbicides help to reduce weed pressure. If appropriate, chemical control of both grass and broadleaf weeds is possible using a range of pre-and post-emergence herbicides. The most economically important pest of crop grown for grain is Bruchus pisi. The successful treatment of this pest is the timely application of insecticide to crops. Economically important diseases are Ascochyta pisi and Erysiphe pisi. Immediate ploughing of crop residues after harvest to avoid spore dispersal from diseased plants is recommended against diseases.
HarvestThe optimal stage for harvesting for green mass is at the end of flowering/early pod setting, to maximise forage yield and quality. When the harvest time is delayed, dry matter yield can increase, but simultaneously the forage quality declines. Most often the seeds are harvested by direct combining, which is applied when more than 70% of the beans are ripe, in dry weather, but not in the hottest hours of the day. Peas must be harvested as soon as possible. Otherwise, grain losses are significant. After threshing, the grain is dried in the sun, cleaned in high humidity and what will be stored for a long time is fumigated. Seeds should be stored in dry, ventilated rooms. [caption id="attachment_16260" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Spring pea for forage in the region of Pleven, North Bulgaria.[/caption]
More informationThe members of Bulgarian Legumes Network (Fodder Institute Crops-Pleven, Agricultural Academy; Dobruzhanski Agricultural Institute Toshevo; Institute Plant Genetic Resources, Sadovo) offer basic seeds of Bulgarian cultivars of fodder pea, various materials related to its cultivation.
Growing lucerne in cool climates
Resourcing the cropPlant breeders have adapted lucerne to grow in a range of climates. Cultivars vary in the levels of winter activity or dormancy. There are two main types grown in Europe: the Provence or southern types which grow more prolifically, and the Flemish or northern types which are more winter hardy with a more intense winter dormancy. Being a legume, lucerne fixes nitrogen (N) through bacteria (rhizobium) in nodules on the roots. To ensure good nodule formation, the seed can be inoculated with rhizobium before being drilled (See Inoculation of soybean seed for how this is done for soybeans). Lucerne is not competitive in its early stages so it is usually grown as a monoculture. It is essential to control broad-leaved weeds, especially during establishment when the young plants are vulnerable to shading from weeds. There is a limited range of herbicides available for weed control and professional support should be sought from suppliers. A herbicide-free solution is to grow lucerne in a mixture with low-growing grasses such as meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis) and timothy (Phleumpratensis) if the aim is to maximise lucerne production. Taller grasses such as cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata) can be used if a grass- lucerne mixture is required. The grasses help control weeds, especially at the establishment phase. Lucerne can also be under-sown with spring cereals that are harvested as a forage crop. The use of short-straw cereals sown at about half the normal seed rate helps the establishment of lucerne when under-sown. As the bacteria in the root nodules fix atmospheric nitrogen, little fertiliser nitrogen should be applied (only up to 30 kg/ha during establishment). Keeping soil mineral nitrogen low encourages nodule production and activity. Lucerne has a high demand for phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) fertiliser and the required application will depend on the soil index (as shown in table 1). Limiting slurry applications (up to 30 kg N/ha) after the last cut balances the provision of P and K with the avoidance of over-supplying N. This slurry replaces some of the P and K taken off in the crop and can improve dry matter yields. The crop requires a minimum period of undisturbed stem growth and root development in the first year of establishment. For this, the first cutting should take place after flowering, as the plants need to build up root reserves for the next regrowth. Each re-growth after cutting draws on the root reserves. The last cut must take place up to mid-September, six weeks before the estimated end of the growing period (end of October).
Harvesting - SilageThere is a trade-off between crop yield, forage quality (esp. digestibility) and persistence. In practice, the optimum time to cut lucerne for quantity, quality and persistence is when 5–10% of the plants are flowering (early flowering). Harvesting practice has a big effect on crop persistence because the crown of the plant is the source of regrowth. The crop should not be cut lower than 7 cm from the soil surface. A spring-sown crop will be ready for its first cut in late July of the first year. Most of the protein (70%) and minerals (90%) are in the leaf so the aim of the harvesting technique is to recover as much of the leaf material as possible. Roller-type mower conditioners cut and condition the lucerne by crimping or crushing the stem when harvesting. This enhances the rate of moisture loss from the stem without extensive damage to the leaf. Leaf shatter will occur if the cut lucerne dries out too much. Lucerne silage can be clamped or baled. [caption id="attachment_15724" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Lucerne crop[/caption]
Key practice points
- Weed control during crop establishment is important.
- Apply sufficient P and K for growth.
- When cutting, avoid damage to the crown (cut no lower than 7 cm).
- Avoid excessive drying after cutting to prevent leaf shatter and loss.
- Little or no N needed for growth.
Further informationSeveral suppliers in the UK market provide lucerne seed:
Southern green shield bug in soybean
OutcomeThe southern green shield bug is a relatively new soybean pest in Europe. It is becoming more abundant and could become a serious pest. Monitoring should start in May or June and continue during July and August. If economic thresholds are exceeded, pesticide application may be required in order to protect soybean yield and quality.
BiologyAdults of the southern green shield bug are 12 to 15 mm long and 7 to 8 mm wide. The body resembles a shield. There are three distinct white dots and two smaller ones and all of them are in line on the scutellum. This species can be easily confused with the green shield bug, Palomena prasina, which is also green. The green shield bug does not have white dots on the scutellum, and the larvae (nymphs) are not as colourful as the immature stages of Nezara viridula. There are up to five generations per year. Adults shelter overwinter in houses and barns and other structures. This is a Mediterranean species which has expanded its habitat because of the recent mild winters. An average January temperature higher than 5°C is a strong factor in the spread of this insect. It has therefore increased significantly in regions where this threshold is exceeded. The timing of adult emergence and induction of diapause, size and fitness of adults and temperature, among other factors, are of greatest importance for successful overwintering. The southern green shield bug responds strongly to climate change by shifting its distribution to the north. After overwintering, adults mate and the females lay up to 300 eggs in groups of 30 to 130 on the back of leaves. After hatching, the nymphs remain in the group until second instar. The southern green shield bug feeds by piercing plant tissue with needle-like stylets. The feeding punctures are not immediately visible. Adults and nearly all nymphal stages (2nd to 5th nymphal stage) feed on plant tissues. Soft parts of the plant and the developing flowers or fruits are preferred. Yellow or dark spots and even necrosis follow as a result of feeding. Feeding on flower buds can result in loss of the flower. The largest threat to the seeds is damage in the early stages of formation. Feeding injuries on pods result in seed damage and distorted pods. Experience shows that the bugs invade soybean crops in larger numbers in central Europe only when pods are ripening. Therefore, damage is limited so far. In south-eastern Europe, the bugs appear earlier, at the end of flowering period. The timing of invasion will probably change as the pest becomes more abundant, which is one of the reasons why this species can be expected to become a more serious problem in soybean production in the coming years. [caption id="attachment_15494" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Southern green shield bug (nymphal stage) in group damaging soybean pods.[/caption]
ControlBio-control of the southern green shield bug is a challenge since antagonist species have not yet sufficiently established themselves in response to the spread. Treatment with insecticide has so far been only rarely justified. There are no insecticides approved for this potential pest in most European countries. Spraying may be needed to protect yield if shield bug populations are high (the threshold is 8 to 10 specimens collected in 10 sweeps with a sweep net at the beginning of flowering). This pest can be chemically controlled using organophosphate or pyrethroid compounds depending on the registration in every country. The use of trap crops (forage pea, bean, brassicaceous crops) should be considered. The purpose of trap crops is to attract shield bugs to lay eggs on them. These are subsequently chemically treated before the bugs spread to adjacent soybean plants.
Key practice points
- Fields should be scouted regularly and systematically for the presence of pests. The green shield bug is easily observed.
- Control measures should only be taken where a pest population approaches a profit-threatening “economic” threshold. The costs of applying a pesticide to a field with low yield potential may not be justified.
- When chemical control is needed, apply the lowest effective amount of the respective pesticide using equipment that is properly calibrated.
Further informationAGES 2020. Marmorierte Baumwanze. www.ages.at/themen/schaderreger/marmorierte-baumwanze/ Bachteler, K. 2017. Wanzen in Soja. Taifun Sojainfo 53. www.sojafoerderring.de/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Sojainfo_53_2017-2.pdf Schmidt, S. and Falagiarda, M. 2020. Die natürlichen Gegenspieler der Marmorierten Baumwanze. Obstbau Weinbau 4/2020. www.laimburg.it/downloads/Natuerliche_Gegenspieler_ Zimmermann, O., 2018. Die Marmorierte Baumwanze Halyomorpha halys Leitfaden zur Bedeutung, Verbreitung, Biologie, Erkennung sowie Monitoring. https://www.km-bw.de/pb/site/pbs-bw-new/get/documents/MLR.LEL/PB5Documents/ltz_ka/Über uns/Grenzüberschreitende Zusammenarbeit/InvaProtect/Leitfäden/Halyomorpha Halys_DL/Leitfaden_Marmorierte Baumwanze.pdf Zimmermann, O., Reißig, A. And Wührer, B. 2020. Invasive Schädlinge und mögliche biologische Gegenspieler. Mais 2/2020. www.amwnuetzlinge.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Invasive-Schädlinge-und-mögliche-biologische-Gegenspieler.pdf
Lucerne in north-western Europe
OutcomeLucerne is a high protein forage legume that has great potential as a forage feed for dairy and beef cattle and sheep. However, the combination of cool conditions and naturally acidic soils in the wetter parts of the British Isles is generally not favourable to the growth of lucerne. But with careful site selection and soil management, the potential benefits from this persistent, high yielding and high-protein forage crop can be exploited in north-western Europe. The positive outcomes:
- Biological nitrogen fixation so no nitrogen fertiliser is required.
- Excellent break-crop effect with up to 70% less nitrogen required for the subsequent cereal.
- High yields with up to 12 tonnes dry matter/ha/year from multiple cuts for about five years.
- High voluntary intake due to good palatability.
- Reduced need for additional protein feeding due to high protein content (18-22% of the dry matter).
- High fibre content that enhances rumen health and reduces the risk of acidosis.
- Improved soil structure.
- Drought tolerance.
- Stable yield from established crops.
Matching site, climate, cultivar and management
ClimateLike most other temperate crops, lucerne germinates when soil temperature rises above 2°C but a soil temperature of at least 8°C is required for effective establishment. The optimum temperature for establishment is about 12°C, reached in late spring in north-western Europe. The young plants grow slowly. The main aim of crop establishment is to build up biomass in the first year so that the crop goes into its first winter with good root reserves. This means balancing waiting for warm conditions that will support rapid germination with sowing early enough to escape summer droughts affecting germination. This gives a sufficiently long first-year growing season so that plants are robust going into the first winter.
SiteThe roots of young lucerne plants are sensitive to waterlogging and only well-drained soils are suitable. Once established, lucerne is more drought tolerant than most forage grasses giving high yields of high-protein forage for about five years. This drought tolerance reduces the effects of drought on total farm-level forage yields on drought-prone sites. Lucerne is an option particularly as part of a whole-farm strategy for increasing the resilience of forage and protein production against drought. Cultivars and sowing Lucerne is outcrossing and so cultivars are populations of genetically related but different individuals. A diverse range of cultivars enables adaptation to a wide range of environments. This means attention to cultivar selection is required so that the chosen cultivar has a good combination of traits suited to the site. Dormancy is an important trait for matching the site and cultivar. [caption id="attachment_15199" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] A mature crop of lucerne ready for harvest[/caption] Lucerne has developed to grow in a variety of different climates, with varying levels of winter activity or dormancy. Some winter dormancy is needed to survive cold winters in north-western Europe. There is a trade-off between the level of winter dormancy and the length of the growing season and yield potential. Lucerne seed is very small and a fine seedbed is required for the shallow drilling (1.0–2.5 cm) of 20–25 kg seed/ha. Consolidation of the seedbed after sowing helps give good contact between seed and soil. Most weed species found in Scotland are better adapted to cool wet conditions than young lucerne plants. Therefore, cool wet conditions during the early establishment phase favours the growth of weeds more than lucerne resulting in increased and potentially damaging weed competition. The first cuts may be weedy but then the weed disappears and established lucerne crop is usually very competitive against new weed establishment. Weed competition can also be reduced by sowing a low-growing grass with the lucerne. The first cuts may be weedy but then the weed disappears and established lucerne crop is usually very competitive against new weed establishment. Weed competition can also be reduced by sowing a low-growing grass with the lucerne.
RotationLucerne crops can yield well for up to 10 years, but most stands are kept for about five years. Lucerne is auto-toxic in that established plants suppress the establishment of young lucerne plants in the same place. This means that an interval of about six years between crops is required to prevent the residue of the previous crop impacting on the new crop and to prevent the buildup of diseases and pests specific to lucerne. Autotoxicity also means that stitched in/over-seeding of a sparse crop is not an effective option. [caption id="attachment_15203" align="aligncenter" width="739"] Lucerne growing at Crichton Royal Farm in Dumfries, Scotland in 2015.[/caption]
FertilisationLucerne does not need fertiliser nitrogen but there are high off-takes of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in the forage. The crop is particularly responsive in the juvenile stage so applications to the seedbed are relevant. Slurry can suppress biological nitrogen fixation and is therefore not good for this crop. This presents a challenge on farms with high overall-stocking rates. Managing P and K therefore needs to be part of a whole-farm approach to these nutrients. Lucerne is sensitive to low soil pH (acidity) and attention to liming is required, especially in north-western Europe. The target pH for a mineral soil is between 6.2 and 7.0. In moderately acidic soils or in soils where no lucerne has been grown for many years, seed inoculation is highly recommended. Lucerne is also sensitive to deficiencies of boron (B), molybdenum (Mo) and zinc (Zn) in the soil.
The painted lady in soybean production
Life cycleThe painted lady is a migratory species originating from Africa and the Mediterranean. It migrates from North Africa to northern Europe in May and June. The size and shape is similar to other butterflies. The wings are variegated reddish-brown and covered with black and white spots. Light green, oval eggs are laid on leaves. Grown-up caterpillars are 40 mm long, hairy and dark brown in colour, with two yellow lines on the sides. The pupa is 20 mm long and silver-brown in colour or coppery sheen. They are found on the injured leaves. The whole migration is made by a succession of generations, up to six in a year. The settling of adults in a location depends on weather conditions such as wind direction that affect the migration path and length. The first arriving butterflies can be seen in early spring. After mating, the females lay around 500 eggs on the leaves on a wide range of plants. Various species of thistle are the best-known hosts providing nectar for the adults and leaves for the caterpillars. The wider range of hosts includes soybean. After arriving in May and June, two generations can result in sporadic infestations of soybean. The highest abundance of caterpillars occurs during June and July. Only the caterpillars are harmful to soybean. They eat the leaf tissue between the leaf veins. Large infestations may cause complete defoliation. Damaged leaves are tied together in web-forming larval nests from which the young butterfly emerges from pupae. Infestation in crops is usually patchy and localised. The soybean is only one of many hosts and it is often the presence of wild hosts in the field that triggers infestation. It is important that other host species, thistles in particular, are removed within soybean crops if infestation is expected from migrating adults. [caption id="attachment_15873" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Painted lady butterfly[/caption] Control is rarely necessary in practice. The need for control measures can be assessed about one week in advance of an infestation by the presence of adult butterflies that are settling in a location to mate and lay eggs. This provides time to plan treatments which might involve obtaining special permission to use insecticides. An average of two or more recently-hatched caterpillars per plant, or 20 caterpillars per row metre of soybean, or the observation of two nests of infestation within 100 m² is the economic threshold. The condition of the canopy and the stage of development of caterpillars should be considered. Plants with already developed canopy are more tolerant to damage while younger caterpillar instars are more susceptible to insecticides and most of the damage is yet to be made. Sometimes, control can be confined to crop margins or to patches in the crop. Predicting infestation from the presence of recently arrived and settling adults at the local level is important. Only a few insecticides are approved for control. As this pest occurs only occasionally, no products are registered in several countries for this purpose. In these cases, exceptional use may be admitted on demand (e.g., for Bacillus thuringiensis in Germany). This demand should be organised by a plant protection service or a cooperative in advance, as treatment is worthwhile if the caterpillars are still young. Treatment of large caterpillars is ineffective, as they will stop feeding soon and the damage has already occurred. [caption id="attachment_15876" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Damage on leaf made by painted lady.[/caption]
Key practice points
- Fields should be scouted regularly and systematically for the presence of adult butterflies, eggs and caterpillars.
- Control measures should only be taken where a caterpillar population approaches an ‘economic’ threshold. Treatment is not justified in the case of most infestations (presence of caterpillars below economic threshold).
- When chemical control is needed, apply the lowest effective amount of the pesticide using equipment that is properly calibrated. Sometimes it is possible to localise treatment to only infested parts of crops.
Further informationBundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (BLE), Ökolandbau - Distelfalter (Vanessa cardui), website: www.oekolandbau.de/landwirtschaft/pflanze/grundlagen-pflanzenbau/pflanzenschutz/schaderreger/schadorganismen-im-ackerbau/distelfalter-vanessa-cardui/ Butterfly Conservation. Painted Lady, website: www.butterfly-conservation.org/butterflies/painted-lady
Sampling and measurement protocols for field experiments assessing the performance of legume-supported cropping systems
Impacts of legume-related policy scenarios
GHG mitigation costs through legume based agriculture
Social cost-benefit analysis of legumes in cropping-systems
The report also describes the method of social cost-benefit analysis, for the benefit of those readers who are not familiar with it. There is ample literature on this topic, but much in a concise form accessible to laymen. In a project such as Legume Futures, most participants fall into that category. Beyond mere description, the report looks critically at the method, in order to make possible users aware of its limitations as well as its usefulness.
Legume-supported cropping systems for Europe
This general repo...
This general report was first prepared at the end of the research period (2010 – 2014) at a time when some results were not yet formally published. It will be revised further as further results are published.
Evaluation of legume-supported agriculture and policies at farm level
Generation and evaluation of legume-supported crop rotations in five case study regions across Europe
A modelling approach was developed to systematically generate and agronomically evaluate a large set of crop rotation options. The objective of the report is the description of this approach and its capability to facilitate the design of novel cropping systems including legume crops.
The modelled crop rotations with and without legumes that were generated by this work serve as a basis for further socio-economic and environmental assessments of legume-supported cropping systems within the Legume Futures project.
Agronomic case studies in Legume Futures
The project aims to make ...
The project aims to make use of both data and professional expertise in various ways. Partners have contributed data on crop yields, biological nitrogen fixation and greenhouse gas releases for use in modelling of the biophysical and socioeconomic impacts of legumes in crop rotations.
This work reported here aimed to capture the status quo ante in terms of expertise at each of our partner institutions. It is constructed as a set of "case studies", in the sociological sense of the term, in which experts were asked about their knowledge and opinions on various legume-related issues.
In addition to the work presented here, five partner organisations have provided detailed data sets from which potential cropping systems are being developed and assessed. That additional case study research is the subject of further reports. Each case presented here is set out largely as the correspondent sent it. Editing has been confined to grammar and clarifications of presentation. This is intended as a "living document" that can be updated as the correspondents have new insights.
Novel feed and non-food uses of legumes
Agronomic analysis of cropping strategies
Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) by legume crops in Europe
The market of grain legumes in the EU
The market of grain legumes in Spain
This report is part of the transdisciplinary EU research project "LegValue". The present study describes the markets of the main grown grain legumes and shows price differences for grain legumes in Spain. Furthermore, some levers and barriers for the development of legumes in Spain will be highlighted. A mixed-method approach based on quantitative and qualitative analyses was used in this study. The parameters used for the quantitative analyses are production, domestic consumption, imports, exports and producer prices.
The market of legumes in Italy
The market of grain legumes in the UK
This report is part of the transdisciplinary EU research project "LegValue". Work package 3, which deals with the market and economics of legumes, has as an important objective to increase the market transparency of legumes. The present study describes the markets of the main growth legumes and shows price information systems for grain legumes in the UK. A mixed-method approach based on quantitative and qualitative analyses was used in this study. The parameters that were used for the quantitative analyses are production, domestic consumption, imports, exports and wholesale prices.
The market of grain legumes in Germany
Unit values in international trade as price indicators of legumes in the EU
Correlation between prices of grain legumes and prices of feed, fertilisers and meat
Prospective cultivation area of field peas used in animal meat substitutes in the EU
Cultivation of faba beans for regional protein supply: a case study on the association “Rheinische Ackerbohne e.V.” in Germany
Report on price setting mechanism in legume markets in the EU
Increase of legume production as an alternative protein source for animal feed in a livestock-intensive region
Effects of legume cropping on farming and food systems
Environmental implications for legume cropping
Outlook for knowledge and technology for legume-supported cropping systems
Developing legume cropping: looking forward
Optimizing legume cropping: the policy questions
Introducing legumes into European cropping systems: farm-level economic effects
Mixtures of legumes for forage production
Lucerne (Alfalfa) in European cropping systems
Red clover in cropping systems
Legume-based green manure crops
Developing soy production in Central and Northern Europe
Lupins in European cropping systems
Grain legumes: an overview
Legume crops and biodiversity
Nitrogen and phosphorus losses from legume-supported cropping
The role of legumes in bringing protein to the table
Perspectives on legume production and use in European agriculture
White clover supported pasture-based systems in North-West Europe
Storage of soybeans
Soybean mosaic virus
Soaktest for soybean seed
Gravity spiral separators for cleaning soybeans
Expensive soy – these are the alternatives for feeding pigs
Sowing time for soybean
Rapid germination and emergence needs warm soilsSoybean is a warm-season legume. It is similar to sunflower, maize or sorghum in its response to temperature. Soybean seedlings and young plants are particularly vulnerable to cool conditions. Laboratory studies estimate the minimum temperature for soybean to germinate at about 6–8°C. Emerging seedlings are particularly vulnerable to cold. Soil temperatures need to be high enough to support emergence within about two weeks of sowing. Crop emergence takes about 14 days at 10°C and 7–10 days at 12–15°C. Practice shows that conditions for sowing are suitable when the soil temperature at sowing depth reaches 10–12°C. The most rapid emergence occurs at soil temperatures of about 25°C. Provided that soil and air temperatures are rising as spring progresses, sowing at this point is likely to give sufficiently fast development in the early growth stages combined with a long growing season. This gives plants time to build up biomass, to form nodules, and to branch before flowering is induced. In summary, an early sowing date forms the basis for yield formation, provided that the seedlings emerge within about two weeks and survive any late spring frosts. [caption id="attachment_14535" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Soybean cotyledons emerging[/caption]
Sowing very early at cool temperaturesProviding a warm weather forecast for the following days, some farmers opt to sow late-maturing cultivars when soils reach 8–9°C to make the best use of the soil water reserves and the longer growing period. This early sowing increases the potential for vegetative growth which gives larger plants with more nodulation and branching before flowering is induced. This results in a higher yield potential. The benefits of very early sowing are usually limited as the crop grows only slowly at low temperatures. During this time, the emerging seedling and young plant is exposed to risks. Under cool conditions, the risk of soil-born soybean diseases, especially root rots (fusarium, rhizoctonia, etc.), increases. Seeds and seedlings are also more vulnerable to soil pests. Early emerged plants are more at risk to frost injury. Uneven emergence due to prolonged plant emergence can leave the crop more vulnerable to weeds.
Late frostsLate spring frosts occur regularly in many parts of Europe and can impact on soybean at the early stages during germination and emergence. The risk of damage is low before emergence and at cotyledon stage and increases when the first pair of true leaves is unfolded. Experiences from Central Europe show, that several hours below -3°C can cause significant damage. The growing point of young plants beyond the cotyledon stage is vulnerable. A frost damaged plant can survive and develop new branches from auxiliary buds. Frost damage to both the growing point and cotyledons usually cause plant death. The negative impact of frost depends not only on air temperature, but also on sowing depth, soil type, its temperature and humidity. Dry soils lose heat faster, but moist soils heat up slowly. The risk of frost damage is greater in hollows and low-lying areas or where soybean emerges from heavy residues that decrease transfer of heat from the soil. Knowledge of frost incidences from weather records for each growing area combined with weather forecasts helps in managing this risk.
Nodule formationControlled environment experiments as well as experiences from practice have shown that low soil temperatures (below 10°C) at the time of emergence delay nodule formation and the onset of biological nitrogen fixation. This causes early nitrogen deficiency leading to decreased yield and protein content.
Sowing late in warm conditionsSoybean can be also sown a few weeks after the soil temperature has reached 10°C. As temperatures increase beyond 10°C, the development of the young plant is accelerated and an early closing of the canopy is possible. This is particularly beneficial for suppressing the development of weeds and provides soybean a competitive advantage. Late sowing dates are useful for fields with a high weed infestation or for organic soybean cultivation where herbicide use is not permitted. Soybean can usually compensate well for sowing delayed during May. Yield losses are more likely when delayed sowing is followed by high temperatures and low soil moisture levels or when the crop is unable to ripen.
Experiences from German field trialsThe Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture (LfL, Germany) examined the effect of sowing dates on field emergence over three years. Table 1 shows the effect of soil temperatures at and after sowing on crop emergence. Early sowing is associated with low soil temperatures and the longest germination period resulting in 74% of field emergence. The highest yields were obtained after soybean sowing at the middle of April, when the soil temperature at sowing date was at average 10.5°C and increased to 12.3°C during the frst 14 days (Table 1). Very late planting caused an increased moisture content of soybean seeds at harvesting date and consequently higher drying costs (Table 2).
Common soya sowing dates in EuropeSowing usually starts in the second half of April in warm parts of Central Europe (Austria or Germany). Sowing in regions characterised by mild winters and warm springs, e.g. in Croatia, Hungary or Serbia may start 1–2 weeks earlier, while cooler regions such as western Ukraine or Poland start 1–2 weeks later. The latest economically viable planting date for soybean in central Europe is usually in early June due to weather conditions in autumn limiting the harvesting of late maturing crops. Producers in regions characterised by a warm and sunny weather in September and October, e.g., southern France, Italy, Croatia, Hungary or Serbia can sow soybean as a second crop even as late as early July, provided there is irrigation. [caption id="attachment_14524" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Soybean in the stage of first trifoliolate leaves[/caption]
Key practice points
- The beginning of the soybean sowing period is marked by soil temperatures at sowing depth reaching 10°C.
- Sowing late maturing cultivars first can exploit a longer growing period with higher yield potential.
- The weather forecast for the coming 3–5 days should be considered at sowing. If a cold spell is expected, sowing is better delayed even if the soil temperature has reached 10°C.
- Early sowing (8–9°C) can be used to better utilise the remaining soil moisture from the winter under dry conditions. Early sowing requires accurately working seeding machinery and vigorous seeds.
- Sowing late under warm temperatures promotes fast germination and emergence and thereby the ability of soybean to compete with weeds. This strategy is used in organic cultivation or in situations when a pre-emergence herbicide application is not possible.
- Early maturing cultivars are more suitable if sowing is delayed to late May. These cultivars complete their life cycle faster and reduce the risk of late harvest.
- It is recommended to increase the seeding rate at late sowing so that the crop can quickly form canopy cover. Narrow rows also help for the same reason.
Further informationConley, S. P. and Gaska, J., 2015. Considerations for switching soybean maturity groups for delayed plantings. Cool Bean Advisor, University of Wisconsin Agronomy, Soybean Research, University of Wisconsin Extension. www.coolbean.info/library/documents/Switching_Soybean_MG.pdf Cowan, D., 2019. Soybean School. Planting delays put the squeeze on long-season varieties. Real Agriculture. www.realagriculture.com/2019/05/soybean-school-planting-delays-put-the-squeeze-on-long-season-varieties/ Smith, D., 2020. Planting date affects replant decisions. The Daily Scoop. www.thedailyscoop.com/news/retail-business/planting-date-affects-replant-decisions
Feeding quality of pea for poultry
Nutritional componentsPea is used in livestock feed primarily because of its protein content. The dry matter is about 24% protein and also contains energy-rich ingredients such as starch, oil and sugar (Table 1). The nutrient contents vary depending on growing conditions and cultivar. The quality of the protein is determined by the amino acid profile which in turn is determined largely by the cultivar (variety). Pea is rich in lysine, but relatively poor in methionine and cysteine (Table 1). The limiting factor for the use of pea in poultry rations is the low methionine content. The digestibility of the amino acids is good. The mineral content is similar to that of cereals. Pea contains less phosphorus than soy and rapeseed extraction meal. The phosphorus is partly bound to phytin, which reduces uptake. The addition of phytase reduces this problem.
Anti-nutritional factorsPea may contain anti-nutritional components such as tannin, protease inhibitors, lectins and saponins. These can affect digestion and animal health. Harmful levels of tannins are only found in purple-flowering pea that has a dark seed hull (seed coat). The bitter taste reduces feed intake. Most commercial cultivars are white-flowering, have a light-coloured seed hull and therefore, contain little tannin. A reduced digestibility of crude protein and enzyme binding due to tannins only plays a role with high inclusion rates of purple-flowering pea. Other anti-nutritional ingredients such as protease inhibitors, lectins and saponins are only present in small amounts in pea, which do not have a negative effect at the amounts listed below. [caption id="attachment_15299" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Turkeys[/caption]
Feed valueThe protein feed value depends largely on the amount of protein and the nutritional quality of the protein and the energy feed value resulting from the digestibility of the nutrients. Protein quality in poultry nutrition is characterised by the contents of the essential amino acids. These are lysine, methionine and cysteine, threonine and tryptophan. The digestibility of the amino acids is also important. This varies both between amino acids and between different grain legumes (Table 2).
Maximum inclusion rates of pea in poultry feedThe quantities used depend on age and performance phase (Table 3). Depending on the other components in the feed, the use of peas can reduce the proportion of anti-nutritional substances in the total ration, e.g. non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) from oil cakes.
Further InformationBellof, G., Halle, I., Rodehutscord, M., 2016. Ackerbohnen, Futtererbsen und Blaue Süßlupinen in der Geflügelfütterung. UFOP-Praxisinformation. Jeroch, H., Lipiec, A., Abel, H., Zentek, J., Grela, E., Bellof, G., 2016. Körnerleguminosen als Futter- und Nahrungsmittel. DLG-Verlag, Frankfurt. Losand, B., Pries, M., Steingaß, H., and Bellof, G., 2020. Ackerbohnen, Körnerfuttererbsen, Süßlupinen und Sojabohnen in der Rinderfütterung. UFOP-Praxisinformation. www.ufop.de/medien/downloads/agrar-info/praxisinformationen/tierernaehrung Demonstrationsnetzwerk Erbse/Bohne, website: www.demoneterbo.agrarpraxisforschung.de Feedipedia. Animal feed resources information system, website: www.feedipedia.org
Cultivation of white lupin
Decision-making aidsWhite lupin (Figure 1) is the most valuable protein crop after soybean for animal feed and human nutrition due to the high protein content and good amino acid profile. The yields are usually around 3 t/ha, typically varying from 2 to 4 t/ ha. Advantages over soybeans include above all the possibility of sowing in March (frost down to -5 °C is no problem), a better precedingcrop or break-crop effect, and clearly visible flowers which are attractive for pollinators. Lupin thrives well in acidic, low phosphorus soils. Disadvantages of white lupin are the risk of losses due to anthracnose, problems with late weed infestations, and a relatively late harvest (mid to late August). The marketing of lupin also requires care.
AnthracnoseAvoiding anthracnose is key to success. Anthracnose is a leaf-spot disease transmitted through the seed (Figure 2). The use of visually clean certified seed is the foundation of control. All cultivars available so far are susceptible to the disease. In Germany, the less susceptible cultivar “Frieda“ has been approved since 2019. This cultivar has proven itself in cultivation in 2019 at two trial locations in Switzerland. The French cultivar ”Sulimo“ has also proven to be less susceptible and very high-yielding (at two locations and in three trial years). From 2020 on, ”Celina”, which according to the breeder is less susceptible, will be available, but we have no experience with it, yet. The risk of anthracnose is reduced in dry summers and on windy or open sites with soils with pH values below 7. [caption id="attachment_9575" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Figure 2. The dreaded anthracnose disease leads to localised twisted growth of whole plants at flowering time (left) and to black, twisted pods at maturity (right). The worst disease patches can be removed from the field by hand at flowering time.[/caption]
Site and sowingCalcium carbonate content of the soil: Lupin is very sensitive to the calcium carbonate content (CaCO3, lime and chalk) in soil. Field testing at the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL shows that viable cultivation is possible where soil lime or chalk levels are below 3 %. Trying the crop first on a small scale will help identify viable sites where lime or chalk levels are between 3-10 %. Cultivation with lime or chalk levels above 10 % is not possible. Since soils with a higher lime content generally also have higher pH, soil pH is used as an indicator of the suitability of a site. As a general rule, the soil pH should be lower than 7. Studies from France have shown that especially the lime in the fine clay and silt fractions prevents lupin from absorbing iron from the soil, which the nodules need for nitrogen fixation. The result is a nitrogen deficiency which is indicated by yellowish leaves and poor growth (calcium chlorosis). The susceptibility to anthracnose is also increased on such a soil. Plants from inoculated seeds should have a strong dark green colour reflecting high rates of nitrogen fixation facilitated by adequate iron supplies. Inoculation: Biological nitrogen fixation in lupin, as in soybean, depends on symbiosis with a strain of Bradyrhizobium that is not normally found in soils where no lupin cultivation took place in the preceding years. Therefore, lupin responds to seed inoculation. This allows the roots to form nitrogen-fixing nodules together with the bacteria, and nitrogen fertilisation is not necessary. Experiments have impressively shown that inoculation can easily lead to a doubling or tripling of the yield. The most common of these inoculants is a black peatbased powder containing living bacteria. It can be ordered together with the seed in the seed production. It is however best mixed with the seed immediately before sowing until the seeds are fully dark-stained. Since UV light kills the bacteria, the inoculant and the finished inoculated seeds should be protected from sunlight and stored in a cool place (see also Inoculation of soybean seed). [caption id="attachment_6164" align="aligncenter" width="605"] Figure 3. Weed control is particularly important for the prevention of late weeds. The crop can be weeded mechanically in the early stages.[/caption]
Cultivation and harvestCultivation: The stale seedbed technique provides a foundation of weed control both in conventional and organic crops. Tined weeding within three days after sowing can also be used. Special care should be taken not to disturb the seed. Inter-row cultivation can be used approx. 4-6 weeks after sowing (Figure 3) in a way similar to soybean (see also Practice Note 2). Ideally, inter-row cultivation should be carried out in the afternoon when plant turgor is low to avoid injury. The crop can be effectively inspected for anthracnose under dry conditions approximately 8 weeks after sowing, at the beginning of flowering. At this time the first patches of anthracnose might become visible. Removal of the infected plants by hand can help prevent the disease from spreading even more rapidly from these patches. Harvesting: White lupin matures late, usually at the end of August/beginning of September. In very hot years (such as 2015 and 2018) they could be harvested in the first week of August. Rainfall in July and August can delay harvest, especially when it stimulates the late production of new side shoots. The right time for threshing is reached when the seeds in the pods „rattle“ when shaken and when most of the straw is brown (Figure 4). The pods of white lupin are clearly more shatter-resistant than those of blue lupin. The seeds are large, so the combine concave must be as wide open as possible. The threshing drum speed should be set at the lowest level, and the fan speed should be high for rapid straw separation. The moisture content of the crop should be at or below 14 %. Low temperature drying (below 35 °C air temperature) should be used if drying is necessary. [caption id="attachment_9573" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Figure 4. In flower, pods filing, and ripe white lupin[/caption]
Further informationDierauer, H., Böhler, D., Kranzler, A., Zollitsch, W., 2004. Lupins. Leaflet (German). Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Frick. www.fibl.org/de/shop/1308-lupinen.html Dierauer, H., Clerc, M., Böhler, D., Klaiss, M., Hegglin, D., 2017. Successful cultivation of grain legumes in mixed cultivation with cereals (German). Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Frick. www.shop.fibl.org/chde/1670-koernerleguminosen-mischkulturen.html Duthion, C., 1992, Comportement du lupin blanc, Lupinus albus L, cv Lublanc, en sols calcaires. Seuils de tolérance à la Chlorose. Agronomie 12, 439-445. www.hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00885488/document Gresta, F., Wink, M., Prins, U., Abberton, M., Capraro, J., Scarafoni, A. & Hill, G., 2017. Lupins in European cropping systems. In: Murphy-Bokern, D., Stoddard, F. and Watson, C. 2017. Legumes in cropping systems, p. 88-108, Wallingford: CABI Publishing. Websites and videos Pages on the cultivation of organic lupins in German and French on the web platform Bioaktuell.ch, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, www.bioaktuell.ch/pflanzenbau/ackerbau/koernerleguminosen/biolupinen.html. The website of the German lupin network is a valuable resource: www.lupinen-netzwerk.de/Kategorie/anbau/allgemeines/. Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau FiBL, 2020. Lupinenanbau – Erfolg mit neuen Sorten. YouTube-Kanal FiBLFilm. German (English subtitles can be chosen under “settings”) www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELyQAP6gT4g&feature. Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, 2020. Machine demonstration: Mechanical weed control in soya. https://www.legumehub.eu/is_article/machine-demonstration-mechanical-weeding-in-soy/
Establishing high-yielding faba bean
OutcomeSuccessful establishment of the crop supported by adequate soil water throughout the growing period provides the foundation of exceptionally high yields.
PrinciplesThe overall purpose of managing establishment is to produce a fully functioning crop canopy with full ground cover by early May. This enables maximum use of sunlight during the long relatively cool summer day of northwestern Europe. The overall outcome is a result of the interaction between cultivar (genetics, G), environment (E) and management (M): G x E x M. Selecting a cultivar that is well adapted to the environment (location) is essential to optimise G x E. With a well-adapted cultivar grown on a good site, success depends on optimising M: starting with an optimum sowing date, seeding rate, seeding technique and conditions, and follow-up protection of the emerging plant stand.
SiteFaba bean is the grain legume of choice on heavy water-retentive soils of northern and north-western Europe. The exceptionally high yields in Ireland come from a combination of early establishment (including autumn sowing), large amounts of light from long summer days over a long period. This favourable combination depends on the presence of a full canopy between mid-April and mid-September with relatively cool weather and little heat stress. Complementing this, the deep rooting of faba bean provides access to water reserves. Ideal sites are also characterised by a soil pH between 6.5 and 7.0, good levels of base nutrients phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, and an absence of serious soil compaction. Lime and base fertiliser applications (phosphorus and potassium) can be made to the crops but these do not fully compensate for low nutrient levels.
Sowing dateSowing under suitable conditions from late February onwards gives rapid germination followed by the quick establishment of a good root system. Slow germination and slow early growth under cold conditions leaves the germinating seed and young seedlings vulnerable to rotting and to attacks from birds, especially crows (species of the genus Corvus). The birds are attracted by the reserves remaining in the seed cotyledons. Weed control is also difficult. Autumn sowing is an option in regions with relatively mild winters, such as Ireland. For such autumn sowing, the aim is to get rapid establishment in warm soils to the point of having young plants that are resistant to pest attack but which are still in the juvenile stage with tolerance of cold conditions throughout the winter. This is generally achieved in Ireland by sowing in October. [caption id="attachment_11562" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Faba bean in mid-June[/caption]
Seeding rateThe optimum seeding rate depends on the target plant population, seed size, and expected rate of establishment (number of plants established in relation to the number of seedssown). The target plant population depends on how the cultivar responds to variation in plant population, the cost of seed, and the expected selling price of the harvested crop. Research in Ireland has identified 30-35 plants/m2 as the optimum in most situations for commercial crop production and for on-farm seed multiplication. This requires the sowing of 35-40 seeds/m2 where 90% germination and 5% field losses are expected. Seed quality is important. Seed damage due to rough seed harvesting and handling affects grain legume species such as faba bean and pea more than cereals. This means that seed germination quality and vigour are important. The following formula calculates the seeding rate in kg seed/ha: Typically, seeding rates range from 200 to 300 kg/ha depending on seed size and the expected establishment rate. A good establishment rate is 85% (90% germination and 5% field losses).
Seeding technique and conditionsFor seeding itself there are several options and parameters to be considered. These include the use of conventional drilling in tilled soil or the use of slot seeding in untilled or lightly tilled soil. Combined drilling of seed and a high-phosphorus fertiliser is also practiced by growers of these high-yielding crops in Ireland. [caption id="attachment_11560" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Faba bean plant just before it begins to flower[/caption]
Seeding technique and conditions
- Faba bean needs water in summer for maximum yield. It grows well in cool climates and on soils with good water retention characteristics.
- Soil compaction reduces yield by up to 40%, so good soil care and seedbed preparation is important.
- The optimum plant population is 30–35 plants/m2.
- Sowing 70–100 mm deep protects the seed and seedlings from birds and herbicides.
- The optimum soil pH is 6.5–7.0 and practice indicates that faba bean responds to high available soil P and K levels.
Further informationSeedtech 2020. The spring bean agronomy guide, website: www.seedtech.ie/en/agronomy/spring_bean Teagasc 2020. Field beans, website: www.teagasc.ie/crops/crops/research/researchprogramme/cropquest/field-beans/
Feeding pea to dairy cows
OutcomeSoya can be successfully substituted with peas in dairy cows without affecting milk output or compositional quality. However, this is highly dependent on stage of lactation and yield. Pea can be used as the sole protein source for herds with moderate milk production (averaging 7,000 to 8,000 litres/cow/year). For higher yielding cows, pea can be used to partially substitute soya, but additional bypass protein sources will be required for optimum performance in many situations. The greater the substitution, the greater is the need for additional bypass protein if output is to be maintained. Supplementation with the amino acid methionine may also be required as pea is low in methionine compared to soya, and this essential amino acid is one of the first to limit milk production. Being able to produce more home-grown protein in the form of pea can reduce the reliance on soya and feed costs.
Nutritional value of peaOn an energy basis, pea can compete with soya, being of similar energy content of around 13.6 MJ/kg dry matter. However, the protein content is just below half that of soya. More needs to be fed to achieve a similar protein level in the diet. There are also differences in the degradability of the protein present, as well as in the amino acid composition (see Table 1 for comparison), which can impact on milk yield and composition. Lysine and methionine are the two most limiting amino acids for dairy cows. Dairy rations are not usually deficient in lysine but are often deficient in methionine. As the methionine content of pea is about a third of that in soya, use of pea may require supplementary methionine in order to maintain yield and milk protein percentage. About 86% of the protein in pea is rumen degradable, compared to only 55% in hipro soya. Ensuring the correct balance of rumen degradable protein (RDP) and un-degraded protein (DUP or bypass protein) is important for maintaining milk production in high yielding cows which have a higher requirement for bypass protein. One of the benefits of pea is its moderately high starch content. Around 20% of this is resistant to degradation in the rumen compared to 15% in barley and wheat. The starch in pea is degraded at a slower rate compared to cereal starch making pea more “rumen friendly”. This is one of the reasons that some studies show higher milk fat yields when pea is fed. This contribution of starch in pea is significant because the inclusion rate of pea is higher than for soya for a given protein level. The pea substitutes soya and cereals. Overall, this reduces the risk of acidosis.
Soya substitution effectsThere have been many studies investigating the use of pea as an alternative to soya in dairy cows, with a range of outcomes depending on the stage of lactation, milk yield and level of pea inclusion in the diet. Research from the University of South Dakota (Diaz, 2017) looked at replacing maize and soyabean meal with pea at 0, 12, 24 and 36% of the diet on a dry matter basis. As the inclusion of pea increased, dry matter intake, milk yield and milk solids decreased linearly. A pea inclusion of more than 24% in the concentrate negatively affects milk protein percentage and yield. Vander Pol et al. (2008) also looked at partially substituting maize and soyabean meal with pea, where about 45% of maize and 78% of soya in the control diet were replaced with 15% pea (in the diet dry matter). There was no effect on intake, milk yield, milk fat and protein content or yield in cows averaging 34 kg of 4% fat corrected milk per day. The effect of pea has also been looked at in late lactation cows (more than 200 days in milk), with pea replacing 0, 33, 67 and 100% of the soya portion of the concentrate at different intensities of concentrate use (0, 10, 20 and 30% of dietary dry matter). Barley inclusion was adjusted to ensure diets had a similar starch content. There were no significant differences between pea and soya on intake, milk yield (average yield 21.5 kg/day) and milk compositon, leading the researchers to conclude that protein quality is not important in late lactation cows where daily milk output is low (Khorasani et al., 2001). Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Ireland) recommends that the inclusion of pea should not exceed 20% of the overall dry matter intake. The results of the first two studies reported here would support that view.
Barriers to uptakeWhile it makes sense to reduce soya imports and rely on more home-grown protein sources, there are several limitations:
- Soya can be sourced from certified environmentally sustainable sources (from areas not affected by deforestation).
- Soya has been the main “go-to” protein source of choice for dairy farmers. It is frequently the most cost-effective high-protein feed ingredient compared to rapeseed meal and distillers dark grains in terms of cost per unit protein. It is also higher in energy than some protein sources, being of superior nutritional value in its DUP content.
- Dairy farmers may not have access to land for home-grown pea production. Even for those with arable enterprises, producing pea must compete with other arable crops, including those grown for feeding the herd.
- For farmers who cannot grow pea, availability depends on local and regional production, processing and marketing.
- Pea yields vary due to weather, pests and diseases. However, growing the crop to provide home-produced protein reduces the cost of protein supplementation. Pea is a low input crop and so home-grown production reduces total farm input costs.
Key practice pointsThe response to substituting soya using pea depends on the level of milk production. Soya can successfully be replaced using pea without affecting milk output with later lactation cows or low- to medium-yielding cows which have a lower requirement for DUP. However, for higher yielding cows (over 8,000 litres/year) in early to mid-lactation, including more than 20% pea or more in the total dry matter intake is likely to depress milk yield and milk protein content due to less DUP in the diet and possibly less methionine. In this situation, an additional source of DUP will be required, with protected rapemeal being the most obvious choice. Cost and the potential effect on income of any impact on milk volume and composition changes must be taken into consideration. Although pea (whether home-grown or purchased) will be cheaper on a cost per tonne basis, the financial impact of the change will depend on the relative costs of soya and cereals. Other costs to factor in are the possible requirements to supply DUP from another source and the need for supplementary methionine.
Further informationCorbett, R. R., Okine, E. K., Goonewardene, L. A., 1995. Effects of feeding peas to highproducing dairy cows. Can. J. Anim. Sci., 75,625–629.
Preparation and characterization of emulsion gels from whole faba bean flour
Feeding faba bean to dairy cows
OutcomeSoya can be substituted using faba bean in dairy cow rations without affecting milk output or compositional quality. Successful use of faba bean depends on the level of substitution and being able to balance rations to maintain rumen bypass protein levels, particularly for higher yielding cows. The use of home-grown or locally produced faba bean opens up opportunities to reduce costs and to exploit markets for soya-free and GM-free dairy products.
Nutritional value of beansFaba bean is palatable and an excellent source of protein and energy, with an energy content of at least the same, if not higher than cereals and similar to that of soya (see Table 1). However, the protein content is significantly lower than soya at only 29% on a dry matter basis. This means that nearly twice as much needs to be fed to achieve a similar protein level in the diet. The protein in faba bean is highly rumen degradable. Similar to pea, the methionine content is nearly a third of that in soya, and so use of beans as the main protein source may require supplementary methionine in order to maintain milk yield and milk protein content.Ensuring the correct balance of rumen degradable protein (RDP) and un-degraded protein (DUP or bypass protein) is important for maintaining milk production in high yielding cows which have a higher requirement for bypass protein. Beans contain anti-nutritional factors, the most well-studied being tannins. Some tannins protect the protein from degradation in the rumen and reduce energy utilisation. However, this is not a concern for fully developed ruminant animals. At high levels, intakes can be reduced due to the presence of tannins, although the white-flowered cultivars have lower levels than coloured cultivars.
Soya substitution effectsFaba bean can successfully substitute soya in dairy rations provided the diets are appropriately balanced. Similar responses in intake, milk yield and composition can be achieved. Researchers at the Agri-food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Northern Ireland reported that feeding medium levels (4.7 kg/day) of faba bean to mid-lactation dairy cows had no detrimental effect on performance. Further research in Northern Ireland looked at feeding various levels of faba bean to freshly calved cows up until 140 days in milk. The concentrate portion of the diet contained either 0%, 35% or 70% field beans (intakes of 0, 4.2 kg and 8.4 kg/cow/day) with constant total protein levels. The diet with 8.4 kg beans replaced all other high-protein ingredients (soybean meal, rapeseed meal and maize gluten). The results show that faba bean can account for up to half of the protein supplement without affecting performance. Milk quality (fat and milk protein content) and milk yield were reduced where faba bean was the sole protein supplement included at 8.4 kg/day. The researchers concluded that faba bean should be included at no more than 4-5 kg/cow/day. Another study looked at completely replacing soybean meal (and partially replacing maize) by including beans at 17.1% of dry matter intake (equivalent to 4.4 kg/cow/day). The control diet with soybean meal and the treatment diet with faba bean matched each other in terms of protein and energy intake and the cows were averaging 41 kg milk/day at the start of the study. There was no effect of treatment on intake, milk yield, fat or protein percentage and fat or protein yield (Cherif et al 2018). Table 2 shows that soya can be substituted with faba bean and additional DUP from protected rapemeal to achieve a similar level of protein, bypass protein and starch content in a diet for a 650 kg cow producing 30 litres of milk at 4% fat and 3.3% protein. The methionine content is lower with the faba bean ration but could be rectified with the inclusion of a rumen-protected methionine supplement such as Metasmart ® (which is 50% rumen protected) to help maintain milk yield and milk protein content. While the above study from Cherif did not appear to adjust the diet to provide a similar level of bypass protein, milk output and milk protein yield were still maintained. This raises the question whether there is over-emphasis on requirements for bypass protein in high yielding cows. [caption id="attachment_9775" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] High yielding dairy cows at feed fence[/caption]
Barriers to uptakeWhile it makes sense to reduce soya imports and rely on more home-grown protein sources, there are several barriers that might limit the uptake of growing or purchasing faba bean to replace soya:
- Soya can be sourced from certified environmentally sustainable sources (from areas not affected by deforestation) including from Europe.
- Soya has been the main “go-to” protein source of choice for dairy farmers where it is often the most cost-effective high-protein feed ingredient (compared to rapeseed meal and distillers dark grains) in terms of cost per unit protein. It is also higher in energy than some other protein sources. Its high DUP content adds to its status as the protein source of choice. Moving away from soya requires changing expectations with the adoption of more complex but more resilent feeding regimes.
- Dairy farmers may not have access to land for home-grown bean production. Even for those with arable enterprises, producing faba bean must compete with the other arable crops, including those grown for feeding the herd.
- For farmers who cannot grow faba bean, availability depends on local and regional production, processing and marketing.
Key practice points
- Faba bean can be used as a substitute for soya in dairy rations. Maximum inclusion rate is up to 5 kg/cow/day. Above this, unless the diet is properly balanced to meet DUP requirements, milk yield and protein content are likely to be affected.
- Processing of faba bean is essential for dairy cows due to the hard seed coat. This will prevent the faba bean passing whole through the digestive tract and allows sufficient digestion of the protein and starch. Rolling or coarse grinding is recommended.
- When considering substituting soya with faba bean, cost must be taken into consideration, as well as the potential effect on income from any impact on milk volume and composition changes. Although faba bean (whether home-grown or purchased) will be cheaper on a cost per tonne basis, the financial impact of the change will depend on the relative costs of soya and cereals.
Further informationJohnston D. J., Theodoridou, K., Gordon, A. W., Yan, T., McRoberts, W. C., Ferris, C. P., 2019. Field bean inclusion in the diet of early-lactation dairy cows: Effects on performance and nutrient utilization. J. Dairy Sci., 102 (12), 10887–10902.
Biological nitrogen fixation in legumes
OutcomeThe direct effect of improved BNF is higher yielding crops, often associated with higher protein content. About 800,000 tons of dinitrogen (N2) from the air is fixed each year by BNF in cultivated grain and forage legumes in the European Union. The main grain legume crops (soybean, pea and faba bean) account for about one third of this. A high rate of BNF is the foundation of successful and sustainable production. The agronomic success of grain legume crops depends to a great extent on the amount of nitrogen fixed in the nodules of their root systems. This means paying attention to establishing and maintaining the symbiosis between the host plant and the bacteria of the genus Rhizobium and Bradyrhizobium. The total amount of nitrogen fixed usually ranges from 100 to 300 kg N/ha depending on factors such as legume species (and cultivar), length of growing season and environmental conditions. The symbiosis between soil bacteria and legumes promotes nitrogen uptake by the plants themselves and enriches the soil with nitrogen through root exudates and residues, making legumes a preferred precursor to many crops. Growing legumes is a cheap and affordable way to enrich soils with nitrogen. Including them in crop rotations creates favorable conditions for growing subsequent crops with reduced use of artificial nitrogen fertilisers.
Role of leghemoglobin and practical consequenceBiological nitrogen fixation is a fascinating process. The rhizobium invades the roots of compatible host legume plants, leading to the development of specialized root structures that we know as nodules. In the nodule, the bacteria reduce N2 to ammonia using the nitrogenase enzyme complex, which is produced within the bacterium. For BNF to progress, the nitrogenase needs to be protected from oxygen. The root nodules protect the nitrogenasebased process from oxygen using an iron-linked protein called leghemoglobin. Leghemoglobin controls the concentration of free oxygen in the cytoplasm of infected plant cells, protecting nitrogenase from oxygen while at the same time enabling the provision of oxygen for respiration in root tissue to supply the energy required. A fascinating part of this is leghemoglobin is closely related to the hemoglobin in blood with an analogous function in transporting oxygen. Like hemoglobin, leghemoglobin is red when charged with oxygen. This explains why healthy root nodules are pink. The presence of a large number of nodules that are pink when split open is a reliable indicator of successful establishment of BNF in legumes crops (Figure 1).
Biological nitrogen fixation requires energyFor BNF, the conversion of each molecule of N2 to two ions of ammonium NH4 + requires 16 molecules of ATP. The end result is this conversion requires energy from the host legume plant. Symbiotic nitrogen fixation uses about 4–16 % of host plant photosynthate in faba bean and soybean plants. This energy cost is one of the reasons why grain legumes crops are lower yielding than comparable cereal crops. However, under good growing conditions, faba bean and soybean compensate for the energy demanding BNF by boosting growth further. [caption id="attachment_6136" align="aligncenter" width="689"] Figure 2. Shape of nodules in legume plants. A: indeterminate; B: determinate.[/caption]
Establishing the symbiosisEstablishing the symbiosis begins with the removal of flavonoids by the bacterium from the host legume plant. This stimulates the synthesis of specific signaling molecules in the bacteria called „nod factors“. Nod factors are required for both bacterial invasion and nodule formation. The molecular structure of nod factors is specific to the different species of Rhizobium. The rhizobial bacteria attach to the tips of the root hairs, causing them to twist forming an ‘infection thread’ structure that allows the bacteria to reach the root cells of the host plant. The infection thread grows towards the centre of the root and the bacteria are released into the cells of the newly formed root nodule where the nitrogen fixation takes place. The bacteria stimulate the host plant cells to produce the leghemoglobin. The nitrogen that is fixed is then available to the whole of the host plant with the result that high yielding legume crops do not require fertiliser nitrogen. Legumes plants form two types of nodules: indeterminate ovoid shaped and determinate round shaped (Figure 2). The nodules are rich in iron and protein providing a rich source of food for larvae of certain weevils (Sitona lineatus and other Sitona species). The leghemoglobin is also so similar to mammalian blood that it is used in substitute meat products.
It is important to have the right bacteriaThe specificity of nod factors means that each legume has a specific type of symbiotic bacteria in the family Rhizobiaceae: Rhizobium leguminosarum for pea, broad bean, vetchling and lentil; Rhizobium phaseoli for common bean; Rhizobium ciceri for chickpea; Sinorhizobium meliloti for alfalfa and other medics, yellow melilot and fenugreek; Rhizobium trifolii for clover; Bradyrhizobium lupini for lupins; Mesorhizobium loti for sulla and trefoil; Rhizobium vigna for cowpea and other Vigna species, peanut; Rhizobium simplex for sainfoin; Bradyrhizobium japonicum for soybean (Figure 3). [caption id="attachment_6134" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Figure 3. Nodulated roots of soybean plants from the field.[/caption]
Key practice pointsEstablishing the symbiosis between the nitrogenfixing bacteria and the host legume plant is a key objective for every farmer growing legume crops. In addition to the natural route, significant BNF can be obtained by inoculating the seeds with an appropriate strain of the nitrogenfixing bacteria. Such inoculation is essential for soybean because European soils do not contain the required species. In contrast, European soils contain strains that infect pea, faba bean, common bean and clover, so the response to inoculation is very variable. In some situations, naturally occurring local strains of nitrogen fixing bacteria in the soil are lacking or have low nitrogen-fixing activity. This necessitates the introduction into the soil of selected strains of nitrogen fixing bacteria characterized by high nitrogen-fixing activity. How this is done for soybean is described in detail in the Legumes Translated Practice Note 1. The other practice points arising from these biological processes include the need to protect the root nodules. Pea and bean weevil (Sitona spp.) adults eat the leaves but this has little effect of the crop yield. The more significant damage is done by the larvae feeding on the nodules. Their control is important where infestation is high. Integrated pest management of Sitona spp. including the use of biocontrol and pheromonebaited traps is required is some situations. This must be done according to local best practice and regulations. Due to the energy demands of the process, ensuring that the crop grows well is fundamental to high rates of BNF, which in turn supports further crop growth. This positive cycle explains how high yielding legumes crops are produced under good growing conditions without any other nitrogen source.
Further informationAgroBioInstitute, Agricultural Academy, Bulgaria supplies inoculants for soybean, alfalfa and bird‘s-foot trefoil. Other parts the Agriculture Academy supply basic seed of Bulgarian cultivars of soybean, alfalfa, beans, lentils and garden and fodder peas. Pommeresche, R. and Hansen, S., 2017. Examining root nodule activity on legumes. FertilCrop Technical Note. Research Institut of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture (NORSØK), Frick and Tingvoll. Available at https://orgprints.org/31344/ Von Beesten, F., Miersch, M. and Recknagel, J., 2019. Inoculation of soybean seed. Legumes Translated Practice Note 1. www.legumestranslated.eu
Inter-row cultivation in soybean
OutcomeInter-row cultivation suppresses weeds between rows and loosens the soil surface. This improves soil aeration, reduces water evaporation, and breaks soil crusts. This has a positive effect on the microorganisms, as well as on the number and activity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria that are found on soybean roots leading to increased biological nitrogen fixation. The overall result is an increase in crop yield and quality.
Attention to detail is essentialThere are various options for mechanical interrow weed control. Soil conditions, growth stage of weeds, and the equipment used will determine which practices are well-suited to the soil conditions, selected crop, and site-specific conditions. A row cultivator tills the soil and uproots weeds between rows. The machine used matches the configuration of the seeding machine. Cultivation is carried out in the same direction and row number as the planting. Optimal speed is about 6 km/h. The speed of the tractor, the depth, and the size of the protective zone between the tines or hoes and the crop vary with the selected crop. There is now a range of cultivating tools such as different harrows, rotary hoes, finger weeders and flame weeders that can be used in combination mounted on row cultivators for mechanical weed control. [caption id="attachment_9705" align="aligncenter" width="827"] Second cultivation on soybean field[/caption]
When to cultivateSoybean can be inter-row cultivated up to three times during the early growing period (generally in April and May). Cultivation is most effective when the weeds are young. One cultivation at this stage has the largest effect. The earliest opportunity to cultivate is at the first trifoliate leaf stage of the crop. At this time, the individual hoes can go closer to the plants and slightly deeper (5-6 cm), taking care not to cover the young plants with soil. With second or later cultivations, the protective plant zone must be wider, and cultivation should be shallow (3-4 cm), so that the crop root system is not damaged. The latest opportunity to cultivate is just before canopy closure. This is a relatively easy operation. The hoes must be sharp, properly adjusted to cultivate at the same depth and provide the required protection zone of 7.5 to 10 cm from the plants.
Impact on yieldOne or two inter-row cultivations increase soybean yield by up to 275 kg per ha. This is also confirmed in trials where herbicides were also used established in 2015. One inter-row cultivation increased yield by 5.3%, two by 7.1% and three by 7.3%. The increase was larger in years with lower rainfall.
Row width is an important considerationRow spacing that is too wide or too narrow can affect yield through increased adverse competition for nutrients, water, light, etc. Using relatively narrow rows can delay the start of the critical period by increasing the competitiveness of the crop in relation to the weeds. Many trials have examined the effect of spacing between row and between plants within the row. The results show that the best row spacing is 45 or 50 cm, both in terms of available machinery and from the point of view of inter-row cultivation and weed control. In comparison to 70 cm, row spacing of 50 cm helps to stabilize weed flora in soybean production. [caption id="attachment_9709" align="aligncenter" width="700"] A fully functioning soybean crop canopy following successful weed control[/caption]
Effect on biological activityHeavy soils are vulnerable to anaerobic conditions. Inter-row cultivation has a positive effect on the microorganisms as well as on the number and activity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria that are found on soybean roots. According to cultivation aerates the soil, which is important for nitrogen fixation as well as for the activity of other soil microorganisms that decompose organic matter. Inter-row cultivation reduces evaporation and preserves soil moisture, which increases microorganism activity and the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen. This ultimately increases soybean yield.
Key practice pointsTiming:
- Two or three times during soybean growing period
- Reduction of weeds in the inter-row space
- Evaporation is reduced, soil moisture is conserved
- Soil crusts are broken and soil aeration promoted
- Activity of microorganisms is increased
- Plant growth and vigour increased
Alternatives to soya for dairy cows
OutcomeSoybean meal can be replaced as a concentrated protein source for dairy cows without compromising milk yield or quality. There may be economic benefits depending on the price of soya and other protein sources. Switching to other high-protein feed ingredients is likely to reduce the carbon footprint. In future, milk buyers may reward farmers who do not use soya-based feeds. Since imported soya is the main source of genetically modified products used in agriculture, switching makes production ‘GM-free’. Some of the alternatives (rapeseed meal and legume grains) can be home-grown, reducing the dependence on long supply chains. The information provided here can help the reader decide whether it is in their interests to remove soya from dairy rations, how it can be substituted, and how that might affect milk production.
What’s the problem with soya?A very large proportion of soya used in the European Union and the United Kingdom is imported from North- and South America. Despite a rapidly growing organic soya area in Central Europe, much organic soya used in organic systems comes from China or India. Particularly for soya from South America, there are a range of societal concerns now impacting on public policy and on food markets. This is evident also from the recent Farm-to-Fork Strategy that sets out the European Commission’s vision for the future of agrifood policy. Imported soya is acknowledged as a major link between the European economy and deforestation. It is also the major source of genetically modified products which are rejected in some dairy markets. For example, the German and Austrian dairy sectors are now almost ‘GM-free’. While soya production in Europe usually contributes to diversification of cropping systems, much of the imported soya is grown in simple systems based on soybean monoculture. Concerns about the link between soya and deforestation have been partially offset by the availability of certified sustainable soya. There is a growing interest in declaring and reducing the carbon footprint of food using alternative home-produced raw materials. While soybean meal is an expensive feed component on a per tonne basis, it is widely regarded as the cheapest and default source of concentrated plant protein. Hipro soya is 55% protein on a dry matter basis and so the rate of inclusion is relatively low. This creates more “space” in the ration to include, for example, cereals which are one of the cheapest sources of energy, or more forage. Soya is now the protein source of choice due to its high bypass protein or DUP (digestible undegradable protein) content. It is a particularly good source of ileal digestible lysine. Soya is however low in the essential amino acid methionine. Methionine has a key role in milk protein production and together with lysine, they are the first limiting amino acids for dairy cows. [caption id="attachment_9779" align="aligncenter" width="610"] Example of concentrate feed – purchased blend including rapeseed meal, protected rapeseed meal, distillers wheat dark grains, sugar beet pulp and palm kernel expeller.[/caption]
What are the alternatives?The forage and the basic ingredients of the concentrate feeds, usually cereals, provide most of the protein in the diet. Soya or its alternatives supplement this foundation. There are many alternative concentrated protein sources. The most commonly used one is rapeseed meal, which has been proven to fully replace soya with no detrimental effect on milk yield or milk composition. Rapeseed meal is thought to be underestimated in its metabolisable protein content compared to soyabean meal. Many farmers in the UK are replacing soya with rapeseed meal which has been processed (by heat or using chemicals) to improve the DUP content. This is perhaps more applicable to grass silage-based rations which are usually not short in rumen degradable protein. Rapeseed meal also has a more favourable methionine content and so it is likely to benefit milk protein content when substituting for soya. Other commonly used feeds include distillers dark grains (wheat or maize based) as a byproduct from ethanol production. This leaves the question of the suitability of the classical legume protein crops – pea, faba bean and lupin. Currently, these alternative grain legumes can also be considered but they are not always easy to source for industrial feed production, particularly in Scotland. This strengthens their role in home-feed production. With this in mind, Table 1 sets out the basic nutritional information about these alternatives. More of these feeds need to be fed to come close to replacing the amount of protein provided by soya and therefore the total feed cost must be considered to ensure alternatives are cost-effective. Going by the DUP content of feeds listed in Table 1, it is clear that using these feed ingedients to replace soya is likely to result in a lower supply of bypass protein in the diet. This must be taken into consideration when diets are reformulated without soya. The most commonly used alternative feed in the UK is protected rapemeal, with available products having a DUP typically about 18-26% in the dry matter, with up to 75% of the crude protein content being DUP.
Key practice points
- There are a number of alternative feed sources, including other legume grains, that can be used to replace soya in dairy rations, although it may be harder to meet bypass protein requirements with some of these feeds. Careful formulation is required to balance amino acids. Methionine supplementation with a rumen protected source is recommended to maintain milk yield and milk protein content.
- The most common replacement for soya is protected rapeseed meal but others such as extracted rapeseed meal, distillers dark grains and grain legumes (peas, beans and lupins) can also be used alone or in combination.
- Care must be taken when replacing soya to account for any difference in energy and starch content of the alternative products used.
- Cost is an important consideration. Any change in production must be evaluated against the different ration costs to assess whether the change is cost-effective or not.
Further InformationWatson, C., Reckling, Preissel, S., Bachinger, J., Bergkvist, G., Kuhlman, T., Lindstrom, K., Nemece, T., Topp, C.F.E., Vanhatalo, A., Zander, P., Murphy-Bokern, D., Stoddard, F.L., 2017. Grain legume production and use in European agricultural systems. Advances in Agronomy 144, 235-303. Cefetra Certified Soya. www.certifiedsoya.com Donau Soja Organisation provides on its website a daily price information about certified soya meals from European production (‘GM-free’). www.donausoja.org/en/dses-soya-bean-meal-prices/ Fraanje, W., 2020. Soy in the UK: What are its uses? www.tabledebates.org/blog/soy-uk-what-are-its-uses
Inoculation of soybean seed
If properly inoculated, biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) in soy can fully cover the nitrogen fertiliser needs of the crop. Inoculation typically increases the grain yield and the protein concentration by 40 – 60%. This treatment costs in Central Europe are about 20-30 EUR/ha. The costs per hectare is dependent on product, application rate, country and provider. The return on this investment is therefore very high.
Attention to detail is essentialSeed inoculation: The inoculant is purchased as living strains of rhizobia, either in moist solid or liquid forms. The overall aim is to apply the bacteria to the seed or soil so that it remains viable and can infect all the emerging roots. The easiest way is to buy pre-inoculated seed. Relying on this is not recommended because the viability of the inoculant by the time the seed is sown is very variable. The most common approach is the use of contact inoculation of the seed as soon as possible before sowing. Peatbased preparations (e.g., HiStick, LegumeFix) can be mixed by hand directly in the seed tank or using a cement mixer. Precision ixers are usually mounted to a tractor and are used where a peat-based inoculant has an added polymer adhesive (e.g., Force 48). The adhesive must have enough time to dry on the seed so that the seed does not clump in the seeder. The seed should be treated gently. Pouring seed between big-bags is a good way of gently mixing the inoculum through the seed. Inoculation by spraying a stream of seed is very efficient, but this can only be used with liquid preparations (e.g., LiquiFix, Rizoliq, Turbosoy). Soil inoculation: Inoculation of the soil is practiced in France, usually in combination with contact inoculation of seed. Inoculant granules are applied using a granule applicator on the seeder. Very good results are achieved but care must be taken to ensure the granules flow constantly through the seed drill. A combination of contact and soil inoculation is very effective. [caption id="attachment_9157" align="aligncenter" width="662"] Application of inoculants using a cement mixer is common. The germination rate can be reduced due to physical damage. Larger quantities of seeds are usually inoculated with spraying pistols or mixers mounted on tractors.[/caption]
Products and inoculant strainsThere are marked differences between products that use the same or similar strains of rhizobium. Peatbased products (e.g., HiStick, LegumeFix) are regarded as standard inoculant products. They have the added advantage of colouring the treated seed. The use of polymer adhesives is particularly relevant for pneumatic seeding because pneumatic seeders tend to remove the inoculant from the seed. Liquid inoculants (e.g., LiquiFix, Rizoliq, Turbosoy) come with a range of additives and use polymers for protection and adhesion. In contrast to peat-based products, liquid inoculants don’t colour the seed meaning that inoculated seed must be carefully labelled or noted. There are differences between inoculation products in terms of rhizobium strains. While the French G49 strain has been standard, various new strains from Embrapa in Brazil, the USDA, and from Canadian and South African institutes are currently being used. Several manufacturers combine several strains in one product. Even in China, where Bradyrhizobium japonicum is plentiful in the soil, the use of inoculants is on the rise because the modern commercial strains promise higher performance. The density of rhizobia in the product is a key quality feature. How many bacteria per gram are present exworks, how many survive until delivery, and what number is actually found on the bean when it comes in contact with the soil? The manufacturer‘s data are usually between one and three billion per gram of vaccine (1x109 or 3x109). The higher the initial number, the better the chance that sufficient bacteria will survive even under adverse conditions until germination of the seeds. Nevertheless, a lower density product may be superior if the quality of rhizobia and formulation are better. There are noticeable differences in the quality of rhizobia. It is crucial that as many as possible survive after sowing until the germination starts. For example, the Rizoliq and Turbosoy promote rhizobium stabilization processes and offer pre-treatment for up to 15 days. Rhizobium bacteria are sensitive soil pH outside the range 6.5 – 7.5. Biofil/Terragro (Hungary) offer strains which have been selected for acidic or alkaline soils. [caption id="attachment_14299" align="aligncenter" width="709"] A successful inoculation is essential for soybean production. Soybean without nodules (left) suffer from nitrogen deficiencies. Successful inoculation can supply all the additional nitrogen needs from the soil air (right).[/caption]
Key practice points
- An effective inoculant must be used as instructed.
- Seeds should be inoculated with a double dose if soybean was never grown on the intended fields. It is advisable to combine in this case two different inoculant products.
- Ideally, inoculation and sowing should take place on the same day so that only freshly inoculated seed is sown. Rizoliq or Turbosoy offer the opportunity of treating seed up to 15 days before sowing.
- Inoculants must be stored in a cool dark place, and never above 25°C.
- UV light kills the bacteria. All exposure of inoculant and inoculated seed to sunlight should be avoided. All work should be done in the shade. Seed treated with a polymer adhesive should be stirred about 20 minutes after treatment to prevent clumping.
- The seed drill should be clean of the residue of previous pesticide seed treatments.
- All seed contact with chlorinated water, including chlorinated municipal drinking water, should be prevented.
- About six weeks after sowing, it is possible to check the nodules at soya roots. For this purpose, about five plants from different locations in the field should be dug out with a spade, the soil carefully removed from the roots and the number of nodules counted. An average of 10 to 30 nodules at the roots can be considered as a good or very good nodulation. Peasized nodules perform usually better than smaller nodules.
Further InformationA video is available, in which experts describe what needs to be considered when inoculating soybean seed before sowing and provide practical tips on machines, inoculation technology and application scenarios. Video - Inoculation of soybean seed
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More about crops
Legumes belong to the plant family Fabaceae. Most of the legumes of agricultural interest are in the subfamily Faboideae, characterized by papilionate (butterfly-like) flowers with an erect standard petal, two wing petals and two fused keel petals that protect the ovary.
This pattern may have co-evolved with bees because there are many examples in nature of dependency between bee species and legume species. While some crop legumes do not rely on bees for pollination anymore (soybean, pea, chickpea, lentil), others remain partly (faba bean) or strongly (red clover) dependent on them.
Most legumes support biological nitrogen fixation. They supply themselves with a large share of the nitrogen they need. They also further enrich the soil with fixed nitrogen. This renewable source of nitrogen supports the formation of protein in the seeds. Thus legumes are very valuable crops. They produce high protein seeds for food and feed, high protein forages, and contribute to soil fertility. Legumes are the cornerstone of many sustainable cropping systems.