A new high biomass annual clover, included in spring-sown catch crop mixtures alongside short term ryegrasses, could offer dual benefits for farmers struggling with ground that has been waterlogged and left uncropped over winter.
According to forage crop specialist Germinal, the fast-growing Fixation clover – launched by the company in the UK this season – can provide a boost to forage production as well as valuable soil conditioning, all within a short growing window.
“From results we’ve seen around the world, we can see great potential for Fixation, and in field trials in Wales we certainly saw significant biomass production from just 12 weeks growth,” says Germinal GB’s Ben Wixey.
“Most notable was the fact that we saw root nodules within a few weeks, showing the capability for this fast growing leguminous plant to fix nitrogen in a relatively short period of time and therefore improve soil fertility.
“Grown in combination with rapidly establishing ryegrasses such as Italian ryegrass and Westerwolds, we see Fixation having great potential as a solution to currently uncropped land.
“Drilled in late April or May, as a short term soil conditioner, a mixture including Fixation would produce a valuable forage crop within about three months. This would then offer the option of overseeding something like a hybrid brassica or stubble turnip or could be left to produce a second cut before drilling a crop like winter wheat in the autumn. In both cases, the rooting activity of the grass and legume mix will help improve soil structure and soil fertility, whilst the top growth will generate a silage crop for feeding or sale.”