The first of a series of clover farm walks organised by Teagasc will start today (Tuesday, April 5) across the country highlighting the beneficial role of white clover on grazing farms.
The first meetings are taking place on the farms of William Dennehy, Ballybeg, Currow, Co. Kerry, and on the farm of Kevin Moran, Ballinvoher, Caherlistrane, Co. Galway.
Clover management and establishment have been very successful on these farms through early over sowing in April/May and reseeding combined with good grazing management, Teagasc said.
The proportion of paddock clover was 15% on average across all of the farm in 2022, Teagasc said, according to measurements this spring.
Good management will lead to a proportion greater than 25% in the mid-season which will allow lower nitrogen usage, according to Teagasc.
Grassland researcher at Teagasc Moorepark, Dr. Michael Egan said that a total of 33 clover pilot farms are distributed across the country. He said:
“The clover proportion on the farms ranged from 6% to 22%, which is good, but we still have some more clover establishment to do. But early over sowing combined with appropriate grazing managements has been successful for the clover pilot farms.”
With rising input costs this year, Teagasc said, it is important for grassland farmers to renew their emphasis on clover establishment combined with grazing management.
The input of clover is beginning to reduce nitrogen surplus on the farms, according to Teagasc, with 169kg/ha of nitrogen on average, ranging from 123 to 203kg/ha.
Farmgate nitrogen-use efficiency was 33% on average, ranging from 20% to 43%, which is well ahead of Teagasc’s National Farm Survey figure of 25%.
Head of grassland science at Teagasc, Dr. Michael O’Donovan commented:
“These farmers will continue to improve clover percentages on their farms and will reduce nitrogen usage accordingly. The objective of the clover pilot programme is to increase the level of clover on farms as well as decreasing farmgate nitrogen surplus.”
Head of dairy knowledge transfer at Teagasc, Dr. Joe Patton added that “it is important for farmers this year to make sufficient home-grown feed from their farms, starting with good first-cut silage”.
The final meetings in the series of clover farm walks will take place on the farms of Michael Gowen, Kilworth Co. Cork (April 14) and Trevor Boland, Skreen, Co. Silgo (April 19).