Alkalise spring barley in place of lost wheat

Livestock farmers who normally grow winter wheat as a feed crop for their cattle – but have different cereals in the ground this year – are being urged to consider post-harvest alkalisation to boost nutrient value.

FiveF Alka Limited says that alkalisation works just as well with any cereal crop – whether it be wheat, barley or oats.

Dry matter


Alkagrain Wheat Alkagrain Barley Alkalage





Protein %









Starch % 68 58 32 30
MER 13.5 13.0 11.0 10.5
NDF 14.0 21.1

“The mix of cereal crops in the ground is very different this year because of the very wet sowing season last season. AHDB’s February 2020 Early Bird Survey (EBS) suggested the national wheat crop was down 17% but spring-sown barley is up 47%. There are more oats in the ground too with the survey suggesting a 26% increase in the acreage sown,” points out Rob Cockroft from FiveF Alka. 

Mr Cockroft suggests that farmers growing spring barley for harvest later in the summer as a feed crop consider making Alkalage barley (from fully mature whole crop) or Alkagrain barley (from fully mature grain).

 “The only difference between Alkawheat and Alkabarley is final feed nutrient value (see table), but even that can be equalised to a certain extent by using more Home n’ Dry on your barley – certainly to balance up the protein content,” he says.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.