Oilseed radish pasture improvement
I've had very mixed
success with buckwheat in the garden, so I wasn't terribly surprised
when the cover crop failed to thrive in
our chicken pasture.
Despite reports that buckwheat is great in poor soil, my experience has
shown that the
grain is much less tolerant of low fertility and waterlogged clay than oats, annual ryegrass,
and oilseed radishes are. Here, I think the issue was a new one
We tried to girdle the box-elder trees in this
pasture last fall, but the trees shrugged off our efforts and keep
plugging right along. The result is a pasture that's in pretty
much full (although dappled) shade, so although the buckwheat came up,
the plants are so spindly I doubt I'm gaining much organic
matter. Time to bring in the big guns --- oilseed radish.
radish isn't listed
as shade tolerant either, but the leaves will be off the trees in a few
months, so I might get some good growth anyway. And I know for a
fact that a radish cover crop will thrive in problematic soil where
other things won't grow.
In the garden, I
generally sprinkle seeds of the next cover crop amid the blooming
buckwheat, then pull up or cut the buckwheat so it forms a light mulch
to get the next round off to a good start. Part of the purpose of
cutting the buckwheat is to ensure the plants don't go to seed,
leaving me with lots of buckwheat weeds next year. In a pasture
setting, though, volunteer buckwheat wouldn't really be a weed, so I
just sprinkled the radish seeds amid the standing buckwheat and walked
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