If you don’t have enough clover in your pastures, you’re not alone – white clover is struggling on many farms these days.
Yet it remains a key species in our farm systems, providing superb animal nutrition; significant amounts of free, natural nitrogen, and higher overall pasture dry matter yield.
Chances are there’s not much clover in your pasture – maybe 10%, possibly 20% if conditions are ideal, probably not the 30% advised for optimal farm performance.
Oversowing clover seed in spring is a good way to start restoring pastures that need a top up.
The first step is to identify if there is an issue that caused clover to run out in the first place. Grazing management, lack of fertility, sowing technique, and broadleaf weed herbicides are common causes.
Check soil test results, or get new tests done. To thrive, clover needs phosphorus (P), potassium (K), sulphur (S) and molybdenum (Mo). It also needs the right soil pH – 5.8 to 6.2.
You can spin on 5-6 kg/ha AGRICOTE Oversow clover through September and October in pastures with nil or minimal clover.
Best results come from doing this no more than three days before grazing. This allows stock to ‘harrow’ the seed for good soil contact.
Seed can also be spun on a day or two after grazing, ideally following a good even grazing. In this situation harrowing afterward can improve the results.
After oversowing, clover seedlings need lots of light to grow properly, so it’s really important grass is not allowed to get too long – don’t use oversown paddocks for silage crops.
The biggest factor in the success, or not, of clover over-sowing is how pastures are managed after seed is applied. A couple of short, sharp grazings is perfect to allow clovers to establish.
Kotuku white clover is ideal for oversowing. It was bred for rapid establishment, helping it compete better against ryegrass already present in the pasture.
Modern clovers like Kotuku have been bred for higher DM yields which equates to extra N fixation, too.
Seed coating is also essential for oversowing, using a formulation that does not include insecticides or fungicides. AGRICOTE Oversow contains lime and nutrients, to improve seed to soil contact and give clover a good start, with zero grazing withholding.
Now more than ever, white clover has a lot to offer. Feed quality is very high; animals love it and it’s an important source of protein in summer when pasture is often deficient.
Clover can also fix 25-30 kg N out of the atmosphere for every tonne of DM grown/ha, improving pasture growth and quality for no cost.