An increase in demand for rye grain in pig feed has led to a recent surge in interest in growing hybrid rye, according to the latest information from Glencore Agriculture UK. Charlotte Cunningham reports.
Glencore, who work closely with agronomy group Agrii, launched a new grain rye buyback contract to UK growers earlier this year and have recently reported significant early uptake, particularly from farmers growing hybrid rye for the first time.
“It’s a very challenging environment for farmers right now. Limitations on the use of agrochemicals, lowering input costs and the need to widen rotations to help control blackgrass all make hybrid rye an attractive new crop choice for many arable farmers,” explains Gencore managing director, James Maw. “Offering farmers the opportunity to grow hybrid rye, supported by the reassurance of the Glencore buyback, alongside excellent technical support available from our partner Agrii, should give farmers a lot of confidence, even if they’ve never grown the crop before. Farmers are business people at heart. They continually assess new cropping opportunities and, if they see an opportunity to drive gross margin revenues, they will grow it.”
Ben Lowe, national forage product manager for Agrii, who provides technical advice to many farmers growing hybrid rye, also sees a positive future for grain rye and feels that there is untapped potential in the UK pig feed sector following positive recent trial work on the new hybrid rye variety SU Bendix.
“Given that 60% of the UK’s pig herd is privately owned and fed primarily on home grown feed stocks there is a significant end market for quality grain rye in ‘mill and mix’ pig rations. Following recent research, alongside trial partners Elsoms Seeds and Harbro, we have seen the health and nutritional benefits that grain rye can offer pigs when a variety offering a very high protein content, such as SU Bendix, is added to pig feed rations and these positive trial results should also lead to future demand from pig feed compounders who account for the remaining 40% of the market.”
For arable farmers SU Bendix offers flexibility in the rotation, is well suited to replacing Winter barley or a second wheat due to its high tolerance to take-all and is a top performing hybrid rye variety on drought prone sites – a key strength given the growing conditions many farmers have experienced in the UK this year, adds Ben.
Evaluating the benefits
Following their key role in the UK’s first hybrid rye pig feed trial with results to be published later this year, seed breeder Elsoms Seeds have now also introduced the MyRye calculator to help pig producers evaluate the benefits of grain rye in pig diets.
Henrietta Wells, the energy, forage and hybrid cereals crop Manager for Elsoms, confirms the new calculator will offer pig producers a quick and easy way of seeing the immediate benefits that hybrid rye can offer.
“With an easy to use sliding bar, the user can quickly assess the benefits of including higher amounts of hybrid rye in pig rations. The end product of the process gives the farmer a printable PDF file detailing both the financial and environmental benefits, including significant reductions in CO2 emissions, when rye grain is included in the ration.”