A number of farmers have oversown clover in the last number of weeks in an effort to increase the amount on their farms.
Increasing the amount of clover in swards has major benefits to the soil. In simple terms, white clover can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, which can then be used to feed the soil and help increase growth in plants – in this case, grass.
Ultimately, as a result, this benefits the output of cows too.
The advice at Teagasc farm walks earlier this year, was to identify paddocks that were suitable for oversowing and have a target of between 15-20%.
It was advised that no more than 20% be oversown, due to the management required for newly established swards.
The main reason behind encouraging farmers to increase the clover content in swards is to reduce emissions from the agricultural sector.
Having an increased amount of clover in swards reduces the need for chemical nitrogen, which reduces emission from farms.
It also has the potential to make a huge financial saving to farmers, based on current fertiliser prices.
Swards that were oversown with clover in April and May need careful management over the next number of weeks.
These paddocks need to be grazed at covers of 1,000kg of dry matter (DM)/ha to 1,100kg of DM/ha, for at least the first five grazings.
Grazing these swards at a lower cover allows light to get down to the bottom of the sward and stops the grass from overshadowing the young clover swards.
By the time August comes around, the cover plants should be somewhat established, but it will take the plant 12 months to fully establish.
It may also be prudent to start thinking about closing these paddocks at the end of the season.
Ideally, covers will be as low as possible on these paddocks over the winter months, meaning these paddocks need to be grazed last in the closing rotation, which may require some planning.