Vetches are a reliable legume for pasture, green manure, hay/silage, and grain.
Normally they are relatively short season, early maturing varieties with very high feed value for animals and its ability to improve soil fertility, structure and organic matter whilst also offering a weed and disease break for cereal crops in a crop rotation environment.
They are suitable for sheep, dairy and beef cattle. The nutritive and feeding values as a green plant and hay are very satisfactory for ruminants. All common vetch varieties are extremely palatable for grazing and for hay.
The Plant is an annual with moderate stem strength and grows as small bushes 40-80 cm high, with multiple lateral branches from near the base. It has a single or pair of flowers, medium (10-35mm); colour-violet/purple or white.
Vetch has a strong root system that develops nodules at an early stage; this provides sufficient nitrogen for the plants to use and accumulates significant amounts for the following crops.
Common vetch varieties have some resistance to grazing after 15 nodes (30cm high) till the start of flowering. Regrowth is dependant significantly on rain or available moisture after grazing.
It is an excellent feed for growing and finishing livestock. Hay samples of Vetch have shown very high animal feeding values: crude protein (16-28%), digestible (50-82%) and metabolise energy (7-11MJ).
Dry residues of plants and pods, after spray topping provides a useful grazing crop through the summer.
They are not well adapted to waterlogging.
In early growth stages vetches are sensitive to redlegged earth mite, and lucerne flea, and in mid to later growth to cowpea aphids as well to Native bud worm/Heliothis at flowering and podding stages.
Plants infected by rust can cause abortion in pregnant ruminant animals, DO NOT GRAZE that crop if rust occurs.
Use Group E inoculation on Vetches
- Recommended pH Rate: CaCl2 5 – 8.5
- Recommended Rainfall Rate: Annual rainfall 300+; 200 - 350mm during growing season
- Recommended Sow Rate:
Single species: 40 to 45kg/ha in 350ml rainfall areas; 50-60kg in 400m+ areas
Mix with Ryegrass: 66% Vetch, 33% Ryegrass
- Sowing time: Mid-April to end of June