31 May 2002

Getting it all right with clover/grass

BALANCING red clover and grass can be a challenge, with swards on some farms becoming overrun with red clover. But varying clover content in spring and autumn seed mixtures may offer a solution, according to one seed company.

Red clover seems to establish much better in spring than it does in autumn, said Francis Dunne, Olivers Seeds. "Perennial ryegrass establishes faster in autumn than spring and the higher slug population at that time of year does more damage to clover than grass, making clover less competitive."

With this in mind, the company produces mixtures for autumn sowing containing 50% more clover seed than those for spring sowing. "An optimum quantity and balance of clover in a mix is critical. It is important to avoid too much clover as it reduces the energy content of the overall crop. &#42

"Many organic farms have become obsessed with legumes, such as clover, and large amounts of clover have been included in seed mixtures at great expense. But on most of these farms it is lack of energy that is a problem, not lack of protein."