II. Uses

Over half the domestic U.S. field pea production goes to the dry pea market or for planting seed used by growers of fresh garden, frozen or canning peas. A considerable proportion of field peas are exported, primarily to Europe for feed. Field peas are used for human consumption or as a livestock feed. Being a grain legume, field pea is commonly used throughout the world in human cereal grain diets. The smooth, green- and yellow-seeded varieties are used as dry-split field peas.

 Field peas have high levels of the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which are relatively low in cereal grains. Field pea contains approximately 21-25 percent protein. Peas contain high levels of carbohydrates, are low in fiber and contain 86-87% total digestible nutrients, which makes them an excellent livestock feed. Field peas contain 5 to 20% less of the trypsin inhibitors than older, conventional type soybeans. This digestibility allows peas to be directly fed to livestock without having to go through the extrusion heating process. Field pea is often cracked or ground and added to cereal grain rations. Field pea also contains proteases, tannins, and lectins. It has been shown that partial or complete replacement of soybean meal with pea screenings (in barley diets for hogs) did not reduce growth rate or efficiency of feed conversion. Research has shown that field pea is an excellent protein supplement in swine, cow, feeder, calf, dairy and poultry rations. Peas are even used as protein concentrates for pigeon feeds.

 In human consumption, field pea flour is valued not only as a vegetable protein source but also, in part, due to its unique functional properties. The use of vegetable proteins as functional ingredients in the food industry is increasing and special attention has been given to the use of field pea because they are already an accepted part of the human diet throughout the world.

 Field pea may be grown as a forage crop, for hay, pasturage, or silage. Hay from this crop is of very good quality, but peas are a more succulent product and more difficult to cure. Field pea grown in a mixture with oats, barley, or triticale yields more dry matter per acre than a straight pea culture and field peas stand more erect, which makes the crop easier to harvest. Field pea forage is approximately 18 to 20 percent protein. Peas interseeded at 60 to 100 pounds per acre with a small grain such as oats can increase the protein concentration of the mixed forage by 2 to 4 percentage points and increase the relative feed value by 20 points over oats seeded alone. Harvest under this mixed cropping system is recommended when field pea is in full bloom and oats is beginning to head.

  Field pea also may be grown as a green manure crop, in which case soil and future crop productivity will be maintained or improved. Use of field pea as a green manure protects the soil from erosion, improves soil quality, lessens water loss by evaporation and lessens leaching of nutrients, as well as boosts soil tilth. Field pea is most productive with ample rainfall, but can succeed very well in cool, semiarid conditions. Field pea as a green manure yielded 3425 pounds per acre of biomass and 103 pounds per acres of accumulated nitrogen in aboveground biomass at the Carrington Research Extension Center (North Dakota) during 1990-1992.

 The tender shoots of the field pea may be cut and used as salad greens. They can also be grazed directly by animals, including hogs or sheep. Peas can be ground, mixed with grains, and fed to livestock. Specialized uses include the use of certain yellow and green varieties for split pea soup. These split peas are simply the separated cotyledons of the peas after the seed coats and embryos have been removed. A burr mill will hull and split these dry edible peas. The remaining hulls, embryos and seed fragments can be used in mixed feeds.

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