Clover Understorey Trial

Goldilocks

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Oxfordshire
In Conjunction with Marek Nowakowski and Richard Pywell from CEH we are going to trial a field with a clover understorey and see how long we can maintain this through the rotation.
I appreciate that this is not a new concept and has been tried by numerous individuals and organizations over the years.
To give us a head start was just wondering if any of you that have tried it have any useful comments/experiences to share?
Thanks in anticipation.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Old mate up the road does.
His take on maintaining the clover correctly is to double-graze it with sheep to keep it prostrate and small leaflets are the result, if you just mow it or graze it properly then it becomes more upright and leafier.

by double graze: let it come away above the stubble then put lambs on it, then hammer it with old ewes repeatedly including a week post-drilling, which has it setback until the canopy has well emerged.

He does it as we are fairly damp and unpredictable weather around here, once the cereal is well up having that green cover stops the steaming bare earth from raising the canopy humidity, plus he can crop without any added N as it is provided by the clover and preceeding bean/pea crops at the beginning of the rotation, which he bales or mob grazes.

Makes for a very cheap cereal, no pesticides, growth regs or N applied. Occasionally a fungicide but not every year.
 

soilsaver

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
bucks uk
My white clover went on 11 june didn't start to germinate till mid August, rape+ burseen clover on 20 july and germinate about the same time, all looking very good now ,no insecticide no csfb,only problem so far small amount of sow thistle
 

cows r us

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Buckinghamshire
I'm drilling beans into a clover cover. It was an old clover grass ley. I round upped the field but didn't realise you need a large dose to kill clover. I'm left with a lot of clover which I thought probably wouldn't be an issue for the beans.
 

juke

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
DURHAM
I'm drilling beans into a clover cover. It was an old clover grass ley. I round upped the field but didn't realise you need a large dose to kill clover. I'm left with a lot of clover which I thought probably wouldn't be an issue for the beans.

Check for bean weevils , they have a nasty habbit of living in other legumes like vetch or clover we have found in our experience, having to change our cover crop mixes somewhat next year because of this ...
 
Last edited:

Badshot

Member
Location
Kent
I'm drilling beans into a clover cover. It was an old clover grass ley. I round upped the field but didn't realise you need a large dose to kill clover. I'm left with a lot of clover which I thought probably wouldn't be an issue for the beans.
If it's well established clover it won't die from 4 l/ha, a pre harvest diquat will burn the top off to allow combining.
 

Oakbank

Member
BASE UK Member
Saw this done in France, where they grew WOSR with a small leaved white clover sown at the same time. Seed was mixed and drilled together without problems. When the WOSR was combined, even after dessication, the clover grew on pretty rapidly and formed a nice green cover in the field. The next wheat crop was drilled into this sward and the clover was "knocked back" with a couple of litres of Glyphosate. The trial was very successful at controlling Ryegrass, which is the French farmers equivalent to the Blackgrass problems that we get here. Their view was that if the weed species in the Wheat required a herbicide that would kill the Clover then it would be sacrificed, if not then it would continue top grow in the bottom of the crop. The fields of wheat that I saw had been sprayed and the clover had gone.

So, in conjunction with Opico and Sky Agriculture, we tried the same at College Farm and initially the clover grew very well in the WOSR. We sprayed the field with KERB and this did a decent job on a range of weeds, but Thistles did become an unwelcome problem. The clover looked very well established at harvest, despite the drought and we were hopeful that it would provide good cover. It was decided that the field would benefit from sub-soiling, so this was done with an Ultra-Low Disturbance machine, but I feel the effects of this machine, along with the severe drought conditions caused significant harm to the clover and it largely died off. This was a great disappointment as it looked really well after the OSR was taken off (See attached pics), but the combination of sub-soiling, high temperatures and drought were too much for it.

Another grower did a similar trial on quite a large area, but mistakenly sprayed the field with AstroKerb. This absolutely did a better job on the weeds, but it had a fairly devastating effect on the Clover. There is some left in the field now, but it would definitely not be something we would recommend using.

Feel free to get in touch if I can be of more help, as we are trialling some other ideas along similar lines. This autumn has been challenging though!

[email protected]
 

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Fred

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Mid Northants
Hi we tried it a few years ago , the clover was a bugger to grow , however my agronomist has been running several field scale trials , doing exactly this PM me and i'll put you in touch with him.
 

CHAP Webinar - Innovative tools to overcome the challenges of Regen Ag

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