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August 2012
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What is Clover? What are growth habits of clover? – Part 2

What is Clover?

• Clover is an economical alternative to manufactured nitrogen-based fertilizers.
• Clover provides plenty of the essential nitrogen needed for plant growth.
• As a legume, clover obtains nitrogen from the atmosphere and fixes it into the soil in organic forms for its own use as well as for the grass growing around it.
• This translates into economic savings for farmers.
• Plant clover to provide the nitrogen in the pasture instead of purchasing and applying nitrogen-based fertilizers.
• If 20 to 30 percent of the pasture is planted in clover, we can assume that amount of clover could fix 80 to 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre.
• This depends on growth conditions and the clover species.
• This is often enough nitrogen for the whole pasture.
• Clover often has a higher digestibility and contains more protein than grasses.
• It can improve animal performance when incorporated into pastures.
• Animals enjoy eating clover.
• It doesn’t have some of the risks to the environment that nitrogen-based fertilizers can have.
• Clovers and other legumes fix nitrogen into a stable form.
• This will not pollute surrounding areas.

Increasing the White Clover content of Swards

The clover is usually killed off by one of a number of reasons such as:
• The clover seed being buried too deep.
• Sown too late in the year.
• Inappropriate herbicide use following establishment.
• There is no point in sowing white clover in the seed mixture unless you are prepared to mind the clover and make it work for you.
• This means cutting back on fertilizer N from April on and allowing the clover to supply N via biological fixation

Clover cultivars are divided into three categories based on leaf size.
• Small-leaf cultivars are lower yielding but more persistent than large-leaf cultivars and vice versa.
• Medium-leaf cultivars, in general, are intermediate in terms of both yield and persist-ency.
• Small-leaf cultivars are generally recommended for sheep because they are more tolerant of grazing by sheep.
• Cattle and dairy cows are far less selective grazers than sheep and they consume clover in proportion to its content in the sward.

What is Direct Reseeding?

The least cost-effective way of introducing clover into swards is by direct reseeding.
• It is necessary in many circumstances where the sward is run down and infested with undesirable grasses and weeds.
• There are a number of different ways of directly reseeding swards.
• This can involve the conventional approach where the old sward is burned off using a glyphosate-type product.
• The old sward is grazed or cut off; the old sod may be ploughed down.
• It is cultivated using a heavy disc or power harrow.
• Lime is applied in line with recommendations.
• The ground is tilled ideally to create a relatively fine firm seedbed.
• Sowing takes place using a seed drill or by broadcasting using a fertilizer spreader or seed barrow.
• There are many different variations of this approach.

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