Clovers are one of the main drivers towards New Zealand’s high pasture production. Due to their Nitrogen fixating properties, clovers are one of the most economic and valuable additions to any grass based pasture system. Not only do they provide much needed soil available Nitrogen to the companion grass species accompanying them, but their own quality (e.g. metabolisable energy ME, protein content) and production is also high. This high quality leads to high animal intake and pasture performance. The most common clovers used in New Zealand farming systems are white and red clovers but there are also a range of annual clovers available such as subterranean clovers, which are suitable in specific environments.
Red clover is a perennial tap rooted legume which offers a high feed value. It performs well in the summer months and drought tolerance due to its tap root. Generally sown as a component of a permanent pasture mix to add quality to the sward and to boost summer production. Red clover has limited growth over the winter.
White clover is the most common legume in New Zealand’s pastoral system. Its ability to fix nitrogen, its high quality and its relatively low sowing rate ensure that it is a feature in most perennial pasture mixes. White clover has strong spring and summer growth combined with good cooler season production.
Subterranean clovers use is widespread throughout dryland areas of New Zealand. Its unique growing and seed setting characteristics ensure that it is a valuable contribution to dryland farming in New Zealand. Subterranean clover offers spring to summer production with limited cool season growth.