SFP likely to mean more use of clover in sward

THE SINGLE farm payment will almost certainly lead to the use of more clover, predicts Ian Wilkinson of Cotswold Seeds. Clover potential has been restricted by the intensive nature of the CAP, with producers opting to use high input/high output leys, he says. But with payments being decoupled from production, producers can make savings by switching to low-input clover leys. “Red clover for silage and white clover for grazing suits the current financial climate perfectly, particularly as nitrogen fertiliser at 150/t now represents about one-third of silage costs,” he says. “We know clover-based production systems have always been an option, with about 20% of UK farms already growing these leys. But the full potential is yet to be realised.” In addition, Mr Wilkinson says leys of 30% clover will contain 2-3% more crude protein and animals grazing clover produce higher liveweight gains than grass-only leys. “It”s cheap to produce, animals like eating it and they produce more milk or meat as a result.”