2 November 2001

NZ gives clover a lift

NEW Zealand farmers are turning to the use of herbicides to promote high quality clover-based pastures in late spring and early summer for their sheep flocks, writes MLC sheep scientist Jenny Anderson, currently based in the country.

Although winter is approaching here in the UK, it is late spring in New Zealand and the Kiwis theory is that applying a weak solution of glyphosate at the seeding stage slows grass growth.

Once grass is in a vegetative state, clover can compete effectively within the sward, until grasses recover in the autumn.

There are several benefits to this management. High-density clover swards allow youngstock to graze high quality pasture at a time when pastures normally lose quality. Feed intakes improve and growth rates are increased. It also helps with weed control. Figures show up to 60-70% fewer thistles persist after this treatment. Furthermore it is a relatively low cost procedure.

But it is important to take note of several factors before using this technique.

South Island farmers ensure that soil is fertile and pastures are relatively old and of poor to medium quality.

Second, they only apply glyphosate when grasses are short and beginning to seed.

Only a little glyphosate is required – 200-250ml mixed in 55 litres of water/ha. Producers also leave pastures for at least one day before grazing after the application. &#42