WINTERMAX TRITICALE – A NEW NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT TOOL FOR REDUCING NITROGEN LEACHING
PLANT RESEARCH (NZ) LTD IN COLLABORATION WITH GRASSLANZ TECHNOLOGY HAVE DEVELOPED A UNIQUE NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT TOOL IN
THE FORM OF A WINTER ACTIVE TRITICALE VARIETY NAMED WINTERMAX.
Nutrient losses to waterways can occur from rainwater either moving organic matter, sediment and nutrients from land
surfaces into surface waters, or leaching of nutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium and sulphur, through soil into
groundwater. Losses due to leaching are often greatest when soils are wet, namely during winter and often after summer
crops, such as maize, brassica or fodder beet are harvested or grazed in autumn and early winter. Cover crops such as
oats have been used as a management option to reduce nitrogen leaching, but the degree of benefit is largely dependent
on the management for achieving high crop yields. This will include sowing date and establishment method, with an early
sowing date being most beneficial. The challenge is to use a crop which can establish and grow during the wetter and the
colder winter months.
Triticale due largely to its ryecorn parentage has a deep root system resulting in an excellent nutrient scavenging
ability. Triticale destined for use as a winter forage supplement is typically sown in March through to early May. The
breeding of a new and unique triticale cultivar with excellent winter activity and early establishment vigour provides
an improved option for nutrient management compared with existing winter cover crops.
Field trials at a number of sites and over years, have shown that this winter active triticale can remove 19%, 21%, 28%,
35% and 45% more nitrogen from wet soils than another triticale, oats, ryecorn, wheat and annual ryegrass, respectively,
and as such provides another mitigation option for managing nitrogen movement and losses. The key to this ability is in
the varieties ability to actively grow in a New Zealand winter.
Trial commercial crops conducted by the Seed Licencee Cates Grain & Seed Ltd based in Ashburton have demonstrated the plants ability to grow quickly in the winter months and accumulate
valuable dry matter that not only absorbs nutrients, but can also be used as a high quality feed source during and
coming out of the winter months.
Cover crops can be used to reduce nitrogen losses during winter. The development of a winter active triticale has
provided farmers with an improved option. On cultivatable soils it can be sown early (May) or later (July) into colder
soils and in both cases captures more nitrogen than other commonly used cropping options or fallow ground.
Winter active triticale offers farmers a practical and improved option for reducing nitrogen losses from cold wet soils
after removal of summer/autumn crops and at the same time providing a valuable, fast growing high quality feed option
for early spring.