With the appearance of first spring flowers, it’s time to start planning activities on farms, from soil preparation to sowing. Spring is an excellent time for sowing of clover-grass mixtures because spring gives the most rain necessary for their growth. Moisture facilitates soil tillage and allows to obtain a fine crumble soil structures which will enable smooth and uniform emergence of a crop.
Combinations of clover-grass mixtures vary depending upon their purpose. If the mixture is used for animal feed, then a clover-grass mixture will be made of white clover, bird’s foot trefoil and several species of perennial short grasses such as meadow bluegrass, red fescue and perennial ryegrass, and medium-high grass (Italian ryegrass). Which grass to mix together, depends on the soil type and climate conditions. On dry fields is usually sown alfalfa, while on moist soils most preferred is sowing of red clover.
Clover-grass mixtures are also sown for green manure, which means plowing of green plant’s matter into the soil. Prior to sowing of a mixture, it’s necessary to add some organic fertilizer to the soil, to enhance its growth and faster closing of rows.
Plants for green manure are usually plowed into the soil during the flowering stage, when the nutrients level is the highest. Plowing is performed 2-3 weeks before sowing of the main crop.
Entering of green plant’s matter in the soil enhances the content of soil organic matter, thus reducing amount of fertilizers, the biological soil activity and prevents the spread of nematodes and some pests and diseases (especially for crops grown in monoculture). Sowing of clover-grass mixtures has a positive effect on usage of harder available nutrients by making them more available, reduces nutrients leaching and water evaporation from the soil. As a cover crop, clover-grass mixture also overshadows the topsoil, thus retaining soil moisture, prevents weed growth and protects soil erosion. In heavier soils, deep root system loosens the soil and improves its water and air ratio.
Clover-grass mixtures are excellent pre-crops, especially for grains, and are highly recommended in the crop rotation. Not only growing of clover-grass mixtures over several years improves soil characteristics, but also it represents a cost-effective way of animal feed production. After sowing, farmers don’t have many activities and investments, which means saving the time and money for them.
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