Effect of seed rate of red clover and of companion timothy or tall fescue on herbage production


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Tetraploid red clover (cv. Hungaropoly) was sown at seed rates of 6,12 or 18 kg ha−1 alone and in mixture with timothy (cv. Scots) at 2, 4 or 6 kg ha−1 or with tall fescue (cv. S170) at 6,12 or 18 kg ha−1. Two ‘silage’ crops and an ‘aftermath grazing’ crop were harvested in 2 successive years. In harvest years 1 and 2, total herbage production levels of 11.12 and 7.47 t dry matter (DM) ha−1 respectively were obtained from pure‐sown red clover compared with 11.84 and 8.78 t DM ha−1 for red clover‐timothy and 12.23 and 9.64 t DM ha−1 for red clover‐tall fescue. Corresponding red clover production levels were 10.93 and 5.30 t DM ha−1 (red clover swards), 8.04 and 3.131 ha−1 (red clover‐timothy), and 6.42 and 109 t ha−1 (red clover‐tall fescue). Total herbage organic matter digestibility was improved by the timothy companion grass but not consistently by the tall fescue, whereas crude protein (CP) concentration was decreased by the addition of either grass. Increased seed rate intensified these effects, as well as the general effect of the companion grass in depressing red clover DM, digestible organic matter (DOM) and CP production. Total herbage DM, DOM and CP were not markedly affected by increasing red clover seed rate but red clover DM, DOM and CP were increased as red clover seed rate was raised, due to increases in the red clover component. The potential for silage cropping of red clover swards was confirmed but there was advantage in sowing a companion grass. Taking yield and quality parameters into consideration, timothy proved a better companion than tall fescue. A seed rate of 2 or 4 kg ha−1 timothy and 12 kg ha−1 red clover proved the most satisfactory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-465
Number of pages7
JournalGrass and Forage Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPrint publication - Dec 1985


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