Oats

Avena sativa

Oats are a rapid-growing temperate cereal or grass that produce high levels of organic matter. This grass is grown for livestock feed, used as a cover crop, or grown for grain.
 

Oats' ability to produce affordable biomass, act as a smother crop to weeds and creeping grasses, and catch excess nutrients make this a popular cover crop worldwide. It is often used as a companion crop in multi-species cover crop blends.

There are numerous regionally-adapted varieties.   

Benefits

  • High organic matter production

  • Conservation of soil moisture

  • Suppression of nematodes

  • Allelopathic (naturally occurring herbicidal) compounds in oat roots and residue can hinder weed growth for a few weeks

  • Scavenge excess nutrients

  • Prevent erosion

  • Often used as a nurse crop in cover crop mixes

  • Highly palatable to livestock

​Climatic & Soil Conditions
  • Annual, cool-season cereal 

  • Suited to varied climatic conditions - with rainfall >400mm

  • Relatively drought tolerant

  • Production can be greatly improved under irrigation

Planting

  • Seeding rate is dependant on location & planting method (varying between 30-100kg per hectare)

  • Planting usually takes place in February/March (in cooler areas) and in March/April (in warmer areas).

Crop utilization 

  • Oats regrows if grazed prior to seeding.

  • It can also be cut for hay, and silage.