White clover supported pasture-based systems in North-West Europe
White clover (WC) (Trifolium repens L.) is a useful component of European grasslands due to: (i) its capacity to convert dinitrogen (N2) gas to plant-available nitrogen (N) in the soil via biological nitrogen fixation (BNF); (ii) its tolerance of grazing; and (iii) its high nutritive value for ruminant livestock. Its relative importance has declined in recent decades in line with the intensification of ruminant production systems that increasingly rely on maize silage and intensively fertilized grass leys. There are many challenges in managing WC on farms. These include: (i) maintaining the ideal balance between the grass and WC in grassland; (ii) low and inconsistent dry matter (DM) productivity; (iii) difficulties with ensilage due to the low herbage DM and sugar concentrations; and (iv) increased risk of bloat. However, the cost of fertilizer N has increased substantially since the late 1990s, particularly relative to the farm-gate price received for milk, beef and sheep meat. This price:cost squeeze has generated renewed interest in the use of WC on farms.
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Humphreys, J., Phelan, P., Li, D., Burchill, W., Eriksen, J., Casey, I., Enriquez-Hidalgo, D. and Søegaard Karen (2017). White clover supported pasture-based systems in North-West Europe. In: Murphy-Bokern, D., Stoddard, F. and Watson, C. (Eds.). Legumes in cropping systems. CABI.