Research Article
Volume 7 Issue 3 - 2021
The Direct-Drilling of Forage Kale (Brassica oleracea L.) Cultivars Revisited
John E Bradshaw*
Honorary Associate, James Hutton Institute, Dundee, UK
*Corresponding Author: John E Bradshaw, Honorary Associate, James Hutton Institute, Dundee, UK.
Received: February 23, 2021; Published: February 23, 2021


Kale (Brassica oleracea L.) is grown in Great Britain as an autumn and early winter forage crop for dairy cattle. When a new breeding programme was started at the Scottish Crop Research Institute in 1981, kale was being direct-drilled (June) into killed grass swards after early grazing or a first cut for silage, as well as sown early (May) into ploughed and harrowed ground. Research was done to investigate the possibility of cultivar × sowing method interactions but not published at the time because the results did not affect the conduct of the breeding programme and there were other priorities. Perhaps surprisingly, the results still provide novel and relevant information for the breeding and assessment of new kale cultivars which has not become available from more recent research programmes because of cuts in government funding for such work. Ten forage kale cultivars were assessed for ten yield and quality traits in three trials in different years from both sowing into a seed bed prepared by ploughing and harrowing and by direct-drilling into killed grass. The trials had split-plot designs with four replicates in which sowing methods were the main-plots and cultivars the sub-plots. With one exception, the mean squares for sowing method were larger than those for the year × sowing method interactions, but not always statistically significant. The prepared seed bed resulted in taller plants and more fresh-weight and dry-matter yield despite a lower dry-matter content. It also resulted in a slightly lower organic-matter and digestible organic-matter content in the dry-matter but a higher digestible organic-matter yield, crude protein content and content of S-methylcysteine sulphoxide, the haemolytic anaemia factor. There was no difference for content of thiocyanate ion, a goitrogen. There were no interactions between sowing method and cultivars with the exception of digestible organic-matter yield. Cultivars either had higher or similar yields in the prepared seed bed compared with direct-drilling. Four cultivars had above average yields with both direct-drilling and a prepared seed bed. The overall conclusion was that it is unnecessary to assess differences between kale cultivars and breeding material under both conventional sowing and direct-drilling and that the former is easier to do than the latter in small plots. Nevertheless, direct-drilled trials would provide farmers with additional useful information about the yield and quality of new cultivars, should they choose to grow them this way. In contrast, three years of trials are desirable for assessing cultivars because of year × cultivar interactions, particularly for dry-matter and digestible organic-matter yield.


Keywords: Conventional Seed Bed; Digestible Organic-Matter Yield; Direct-Drilling; Genotype × Environment Interactions; S-Methylcysteine Sulphoxide; Thiocyanate Ion


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Citation: John E Bradshaw. “The Direct-Drilling of Forage Kale (Brassica oleracea L.) Cultivars Revisited”. EC Agriculture 7.3 (2021): 11-20.

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