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Forage crops

Forage crops (also fodder crops) are a group of crops grown for feed for farm animals and birds.



Most field crops can be classified as fodder to varying degrees, since their by-products are suitable for feeding animals. Thus, winter cereal crops (rye, wheat, triticale, barley) are used in the green conveyor system. Domestic and foreign breeders have bred special varieties to obtain high yields of green mass of cereals.

Many leguminous crops are also grown not for food, but for fodder purposes. More than 60% of the produced grain and its processing waste (bran, chaff) is used for animal feed. Potatoes, sugar beet and their products are used in large quantities for fodder. Cakes and meals, which are distinguished by high fodder indicators and obtained in the production of vegetable oil from oilseeds and spinning crops.

In modern agricultural production, a number of crops are cultivated, the green mass or root crops of which are used mainly for animal and poultry feed in fresh or processed form (hay, haylage, silage). For harvesting silage, corn, sunflower , grass mixtures of annual grasses are mainly used . For harvesting succulent fodder, perennial grasses, fodder cabbage , and wild herbs are used.

In 1970-1980. the area under forage crops in the USSR ranged from 40 to 70 million hectares, or a third of all sown areas. In many regions, especially in the Non-Chernozem zone, forage crops accounted for up to 50% of the area. In 2001-2005 26.2 million hectares, or 26.8% of all areas, were occupied by fodder crops.

Thanks to field fodder production in Russia, 70-80% of all fodder is harvested.

In the structure of sown areas occupied by fodder crops, 64% are perennial grasses, 22% are annuals , 9% are corn for silage and green fodder, and 5% are the rest.

One of the main problems of modern fodder production in our country is the low protein content. According to zootechnical standards, 1 feed unit should contain 100-110 g of digestible protein, but the actual content is 75-80 g, which leads to a 1.5-fold overspending of feed per unit of livestock products, its rise in price and decrease in quality.

Currently, agricultural enterprises are faced with the task of producing high-quality feed with low energy, labor and financial resources, for which it is necessary to expand the sowing of perennial legumes , silage, legumes and small seeds, and improve the tillage system.

The range of fodder crops is gradually expanding as a result of the introduction of new and less common plants into production. New crops are taken from wild flora and are distinguished by valuable economic and biological qualities, primarily productivity and protein content.

Many types of new crops are perennial and can produce high yields for 10-15 years. These include:

  • borage (Heracleum) – Sosnowsky’s (Heracleum sosnowskyi) (now considered an invasive weed), Lehmann’s (Heracleum lehmannianum), downy (Heracleum pubescens), Ponticum (Heracleum ponticum);
  • mountaineer (Polygonum) – Weyrich’s (Polygonum weyrichii), Transbaikalia;
  • goatweed (Galega orientális), or oriental galega;
  • sylphium pierced-leaved (Silphium perfoliatum);
  • maral root (Rhaponticum carthamoídes), or Safflower rape;
  • comfrey stiff (Symphytum asperum), or harsh.

Despite the fact that many crops have long been introduced into agricultural production, some of them have not become widespread, for example, oilseed radish, fodder cabbage, kohlrabi.

These crops with a high level of agricultural techniques can be cultivated in many regions of the country and give high yields of green mass under sufficient moisture supply. For example, the yield of annual species is 25-40 t/ha, perennial – 50-150 t/ha. Many of them are highly cold-resistant, perennial species are also winter-resistant, and most of them are characterized by the ability to regrow after mowing.

Plants recently taken from the wild flora also have disadvantages, which can be significantly weakened or eliminated by further work. However, the introduction of new crops also requires careful consideration of the possible ecological and biological effects and their impact on natural phytocenoses. For example, insufficient study of the consequences of the use of Sosnovsky hogweed, which was considered a promising fodder crop, introduced in Tver Region (experimental-field farm “Pobeda”), Stavropol Territory and Odessa Region, Ukraine, caused the mass spread of this plant on the territory of many regions of Russia. Sosnovsky’s borschweed turned out to be a resistant invasive species that cannot be controlled by agrotechnical, chemical, and biological methods yet.


Crop production / P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov and others; Ed. P.P. Vavilov. – 5th ed., revised. and additional – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and textbooks for higher educational institutions).

V.V. Kolomeichenko. Crop production / Textbook. — M.: Agrobusinesscenter, 2007. — 600 p. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Agriculture and crop production. Ed. V.S. Niklyaev. – M .: “Epic”, 2000. – 555 p.