Seed sales up for red clover

28 September 2001

Seed sales up for red clover

By Hannah Velten

THERE has been intense interest in red clover over the last three years, with seed sales up by almost 250%, the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Researchs Richard Weller told a KT seminar audience.

Dairy producers are increasingly seeing the benefits of a hybrid ryegrass and red clover ley for silage cropping, using the clover varieties Milvus and Merviot.

"Red clover is high yielding, ensiles well and is the only legume containing an enzyme which protects protein nutrients," added KT project leader Raymond Jones. Intakes are also higher than other legumes or grasses.

The crop is flexible and will adapt to different soils due to its deep roots, said Mr Weller.

"It will improve soil structure, fix large amounts of nitrogen and can be conserved, rotationally grazed or used to over-sow poor swards." It is a short-term crop lasting 2-3 years.

However, bloat could be a problem, warned Mr Jones. "Cattle fed on high energy diets through housing could experience problems because of the high protein levels in clover. Hungry animals should never be put on clover pasture."

Red clover is particularly susceptible to over-grazing and must be rested over winter to ensure continued yields, added Mr Weller.

IGER is currently working on increasing the range of red clover varieties, it is concentrating on improving yields, persistency and disease resistance. &#42

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