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Clover Swards on Derogation Farms

Have you really considered the benefits of clover? Increasing the clover content in grassland can result in increased production and quality with less nitrogen fertiliser thus improving farm sustainability. Teagasc Advisor Liz Duffy has more information.

To grow 14 T Grass DM/Ha requires the application of nitrogen fertiliser to ensure the plant has access to nitrogen for grass growth. This is a cost to the system with 1 Kg nitrogen costing approximately €1. White clover has rhizobia bacteria in its roots that “fix” nitrogen from the air, and this can supply 50-200 kg N/ha per year. More information here Benefits of mixed grass/white clover swards

Derogation Requirements

As of this year all grass reseeding on derogation farms must include clover. 

  • A minimum of 1.5 kg/ha naked clover seed or 2.5kgs of pelleted clover seed is required for all new grass reseeds
  • Either white (grazing) or red (cutting) or mixture of clovers can be used

Over sowing of grass seed mixtures with clover post weed control will be permitted.

For more information on this and to view all of the new 2020 changes to derogation requirements, visit: Derogation Review Changes - Improving environmental outcomes

Review the Benefits

The benefits of incorporation of white clover into grazing system swards are well documented. The key findings from Teagasc research trials in Clonakilty & Moorepark are three fold. The higher quality feed offered through the grass/clover swards leads to improved animal intake, higher performance thus improving farm profitability. Find out more Moorepark clover study update

Improved Pasture Performance

  • Increased dry matter production - + 800 kg DM/ha
  • Potential to reduce nitrogen fertiliser (white clover @ 25% in sward)
  • Save ~€50/acre on Nitrogen fertiliser (save a potential 110 units N/acre, CAN @ €250/t)

Benefits to Dairy Farm                                             

  • Increased dry matter intake - + 1.5 kg DM/cow/day
  • Increased milk solids production - + 30 kg MS/cow/year

Benefits to Drystock Farm

  • Improve animal performance
  • 13% increase in animal carcass weight
  • 25% increase in lamb live weight gain

The Grass 10 programme shows a potential increase farm profit by €150/ha if the full potential of clover swards can be maximised.  For more details on clover on intensive grazing systems click here 

How to

  • The strategy for direct seeding or over-sowing with clover can be viewed here: Clover
  • Key areas for focus for clover on Drystock farms can be viewed here: White Clover

Where to from here?

Either in your discussion group or with your Advisor have a conversation about how to bring the benefits of clover to your grazing swards.  There are clear benefits and some considerations (e.g. bloat) to be looked at but the long-term benefits can no longer be ignored.