Hairy vetch is a legume used primarily for soil improvement along
roadsides and for bank stabilization. Well-nodulated hairy vetch can
enrich the soil with 60 to 120 lb/acre of nitrogen through nitrogen
fixation. Later seeded vetch grown as a cover crop for green manure,
will supply a smaller amount of N.
Vetches are also grown for pasture. They withstand trampling, provide
grazing during May and June and have a feeding value slightly lower
than that of clover and alfalfa. The protein content of vetch hay ranges
from 12 to 20%, depending on the stage of development of the crop when
Vetch is often grown with a small grain for forage; rye is generally
used for this purpose in the Upper Midwest. The grain supports the weak
stems of the vetch and reduces lodging. However, when grown together,
vetch and rye make a hay that is fair in quality but tangles badly.
Vetch can be difficult to grow for seed. The pods mature unevenly and tend to shatter easily.