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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My current food plot plan consists of starting with a field of established ladino and red clover, over-seeding the clover with rape, radish, and turnips in July and then over-seeding everything with rye in late August. Rinse and repeat. This plan generally follows the five principles of soil health; limited mechanical or chemical disturbance, ground is never bare, diverse plant species (no mono-cultures), always something growing, and utilizes grazing animals (of course, that's the point :)).

The biggest challenge with this plan is getting the brassicas to germinate when broadcast into established clover. I'm conducting the experiment right now, but I'm not happy with the results so far. The clover is so thick and tangled, I must not have gotten good seed to soil contact. I have success doing this with rye, but maybe there's something different about the brassicas that doesn't lend itself as well to this. I have a possible solution; hairy vetch. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Hairy vetch is a biennial legume that may be better than clover as a nitrogen fixer. Apparently deer love it. It can be planted in the fall with rye and comes on strong again in the spring. Here's the real key, according to my research it terminates easily after flowering by crimping/rolling, just like rye. So when I'm ready to plant my brassicas in July, I can broadcast the brassicas and roll the rye/vetch over the top, terminating it and providing a nice environment for the brassicas to take off.

There may be a few obstacles to this plan, but before I go any further I'd like to hear your feedback.
 
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Sounds like a plan O. Like you, I don’t have any experience planting Hairy Vetch but I have seen volunteer vetch come up in my rye and it does fix Nitrogen modules in its roots. I bought 10# of vetch and will be including it in my cover crop when I plant next week. It is pre-inoculated so it should fix N.

I have also tried broadcasting brassicas into thick clover stands with pretty dismal results. The brassicas germinated but never really grew much. I think there was just too much competition for them to succeed. If I were to try it again I think I would spray the clovers with a moderate rate of Gly to try to set back some of the clovers to make room for the brassicas. I know you are trying to eliminate the use of chemicals so that probably isn’t an option for you.

Looking forward to what others experience has been.
 

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I have a great stand of HV. I don't see the deer eating it. I'm also don't seem to be getting the soil benefits that others are talking of. I've had similar results with over seeding brassicas.
I have also heard that the deer will browse vetch....but it is hard to believe that it would be preferred over perennial clovers. If they browse mine that will be fine but I am including it in my cover crop primarily for its diversity and N fixing attributes.
 
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I have volunteer vetch growing around the property. It’s typically waist high unless it has something to climb. It definitely has a closed canopy which will naturally limit completion. I have yet to see signs of browse. Another legume that grows everywhere around these parts is trefoil. Deer do browse it but I’ve only noticed that happening with snow cover. It’s very drought tolerant even to the point of growing on the shoulders of the roads where farmers transported it more than a half century ago. It’s pretty well glyphosate resistant. I’ve never tried a wick applicator on it with a high concentration mix.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
...it is hard to believe that it would be preferred over perennial clovers...
Agree. Sometimes I wonder if I should just stick with my rye/clover program, which has worked so well for me. I'm trying to introduce more diversity so I can get away from synthetic fertilizer.
 

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O,
Really appreciate how much you share on this site and your constant desire to learn/innovate/improve. I have no experience with what you are doing but I wonder if your answer isn't all or nothing on the clover. Maybe a solution is cutting back #'s/acre on the clover and adding in vetch or other cover crops that can be terminated by rolling/crimping.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
O,
Really appreciate how much you share on this site and your constant desire to learn/innovate/improve. I have no experience with what you are doing but I wonder if your answer isn't all or nothing on the clover. Maybe a solution is cutting back #'s/acre on the clover and adding in vetch or other cover crops that can be terminated by rolling/crimping.
Thanks, jparks02. I like the way you think. Maybe some sort of balance may work.

The nice thing is with these types of experiments (adding new forages), failure is never fatal. The deer still end up with something to eat. When an experiment fails it's usually just my time and money that I'm out, but even that's relatively small.
 

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Clover so dense that broadcast brassies don't thrive?
Step one: Dance a celebratory jig!

I don't grow brassies. (Or apparently clover either from the looks of my last attempt , though still need to find out what it is growing there.)

Rotation of sites is what I encounter looking at planting brassies though.
I know you're adding diversity into clover , for multiple objectives.
But the temptation is to plant either side of your clover and alternate years of brassies. IF distance is enough to isolate grow years. (Keeping the perennials/annuals blend steady in the clover).

W.T. mentioned stressing clover before seeding. That would get sun to seed...
A weed whacker could shorten clover in a narrow swath to broadcast in.
A test row would tell if clover is the issue , vs some other factor.

Frost seeding a test spot in your area risks brassies getting freeze bitten. But better soil contact.
Too much a gamble for more that a small test. And still dependent on spring frost dates variations.
 

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My current food plot plan consists of starting with a field of established ladino and red clover, over-seeding the clover with rape, radish, and turnips in July and then over-seeding everything with rye in late August. Rinse and repeat. This plan generally follows the five principles of soil health; limited mechanical or chemical disturbance, ground is never bare, diverse plant species (no mono-cultures), always something growing, and utilizes grazing animals (of course, that's the point :)).

The biggest challenge with this plan is getting the brassicas to germinate when broadcast into established clover. I'm conducting the experiment right now, but I'm not happy with the results so far. The clover is so thick and tangled, I must not have gotten good seed to soil contact. I have success doing this with rye, but maybe there's something different about the brassicas that doesn't lend itself as well to this. I have a possible solution; hairy vetch. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Hairy vetch is a biennial legume that may be better than clover as a nitrogen fixer. Apparently deer love it. It can be planted in the fall with rye and comes on strong again in the spring. Here's the real key, according to my research it terminates easily after flowering by crimping/rolling, just like rye. So when I'm ready to plant my brassicas in July, I can broadcast the brassicas and roll the rye/vetch over the top, terminating it and providing a nice environment for the brassicas to take off.

There may be a few obstacles to this plan, but before I go any further I'd like to hear your feedback.
Rather than starting with an established clover plot, what if you started with a blank slate by planting a summer soil builder crop (that maybe included more than just brassicas) into an empty plot? Overseed with rye + whatever in the fall, culti-crimp, and then start the program again with the soil builder crop the following summer. Even if your brassicas aren't of magazine cover quality, I suspect the deer aren't going to mind.

As you know, that's the approach I've decided to try on my bigger plots. For my smaller plots (the smallest of which is not much bigger than our living room), I stick with perennial clover.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I think that's basically what I'm proposing, IronMike...a summer planting (brassicas) followed by a fall planting (rye/vetch), replacing the clover with vetch for a legume component.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
...Rotation of sites is what I encounter looking at planting brassies though...
The conventional wisdom that you have to rotate brassicas has discouraged me in the past from planting them, Waif, but according to several sources like Ed Spinazzola, it's not really necessary to rotate brassicas if you have enough diversity in the plot from difference species like my proposed rye, clover, vetch or whatever.
 

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The conventional wisdom that you have to rotate brassicas has discouraged me in the past from planting them, Waif, but according to several sources like Ed Spinazzola, it's not really necessary to rotate brassicas if you have enough diversity in the plot from difference species like my proposed rye, clover, vetch or whatever.
Try it. I'm only about a decade behind you. By the time you've got it down to an art I might have clover. ...

Turnips arouse my suspicion most. By size of tubers in relation to the possibility of disease having a home in the residue.

Scattered tubers in a mixed plot vs dense planting?
Without disease to study in both cases , I have no evidence either way.
I know my luck though.

Having nitrogen being more fixed could be a benefit in reduced/dodging disease?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Question for you guys about inoculant: I'm pretty ignorant about it because I've always used clover that is pre-inoculated. Do you think I would need inoculant for vetch planted in a field that has had clover for several years?
 

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Question for you guys about inoculant: I'm pretty ignorant about it because I've always used clover that is pre-inoculated. Do you think I would need inoculant for vetch planted in a field that has had clover for several years?
Pea, lentil and vetch share the same inoculate bacteria. Clover is a different strain.
 

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Pea, lentil and vetch share the same inoculate bacteria. Clover is a different strain.
I know alfalfa and beans use a different strain as well.

The Hairy Vetch I bought is pre-inoculated so I should be good-to-go.
 

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I have 20 pounds ready to go. I have planted it before with rye, it lays down a thick mat, I never had much deer browse it. But if you want to build soil and produce a thick bio mass, I don't think you can get much better than vetch and rye.
 

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Question for you guys about inoculant: I'm pretty ignorant about it because I've always used clover that is pre-inoculated. Do you think I would need inoculant for vetch planted in a field that has had clover for several years?
When I bought vetch the first time it wasn't inoculated. I did a 50/50 mix with rye, never had germination issues
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I know alfalfa and beans use a different strain as well.

The Hairy Vetch I bought is pre-inoculated so I should be good-to-go.
I can get 50# pre-inoculated for about $3.00/lb or un-inoculated for about $2.50/lb. Which would you buy?
 
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