Clover will be a key topic in the Grassland Village at Beef 2014. Teagasc grass management experts Paul Phelan and James Humphries will be there on the day covering the key issues in relation to clover such as establishment and management.

According to Humphreys white clover will become more and more attractive to farmers as the fertiliser prices continue to rise to new heights year on year.

In a detailed presentation to ASA members at a recent technical event on nitrates management Humphreys said: “There has been an awful lot of interest in white clover particularly in recent years with the rising cost of fertiliser.”

He said: “Research has shown fixation rates of up to 200kg of nitrogen per ha/ year are achievable with white clover. We have been looking at it over 15 years. We looked at all the different systems during that time.”

“We recently published a paper which was an economic comparison between fertiliser nitrogen and white clover. Of course what we found was it varied with the price of milk and price of fertiliser.

“What we have seen is that fertiliser prices have continued to increase since early 90’s. During the mid-90’s through to 2005-2006 it was always more profitable to have a fertiliser based nitrogen system. That is assuming REPS was not part of the story.”

“Then in more recent years white clover systems are becoming more attractive. Because of the rising cost of fertiliser. What we have seen recently is a very high milk price, so that has meant fertiliser is still more profitable.”

Humphreys commented: “But you could see a situation in the future where white clover will become more attractive. It is definitely something that should be on all beef farms.”