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Green cover crop trials on outdoor pig units

Green cover trials on outdoor pig units

An innovative trial – which brings together pig producers and their landlords, organisations including Norfolk Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency, Anglian Water, AHDB Pork and Kings Crops, and a EU project known as ‘TOPSOIL’ –  is underway to compare the use of different cover mixes at outdoor pig sites.

The two sites were divided into approximately 8-10 ha plots following a cereal harvest, and these were sown in autumn with either a standard pig mix, fallow mix or herbal mix. The pigs were then moved onto the respective sites in early spring.

The plots will be closely monitored throughout the spring and summer to compare how the mixes perform in terms of:

  • Establishment and longevity
  • Ability to cope with pigs (grazing and potential poaching)
  • Pig productivity and economics
  • Soil structure
  • Soil nutrient retention – minimising phosphate and nitrate losses through surface run-off and leaching to groundwater

It is hoped that the increased cover will not only protect the topsoil from wind and water erosion, but that it could also highlight the multi-benefits of proactive management to soil protection in terms of water management and nutrient levels and utilisation for the proceeding crop. In addition, improvements in soil structure may allow for a reduction in cultivations for the establishment of the following crop.

Find out more here. A podcast has also been recorded about the project.


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