|Over-Seeding RegalGraze Ladino Clover into Grass Pastures Improves Pasture/Hay Production|
Many Southern haying and grazing pastures are composed predominantly of grass species, and, as a result, require routine nitrogen fertilizer applications to maintain or increase production. However, today’s cost of nitrogen fertilizer is making this too expensive to be profitable. A more cost effective management practice would be the addition of a persistent, high-quality nitrogen fixing legume like RegalGraze Ladino Clover into established pastures. Adding a legume like ladino clover into grass pastures can significantly improve overall yield and quality of the pasture’s forage production. The ladino clover is not only a high-quality forage addition to the pasture, but its nitrogen fixing ability also improves the yield of existing pastures by supplying nitrogen to the grasses.
In the past, adding a ladino clover into grass pastures was difficult since some varieties did not persist well under heavy grazing pressure and any pasture benefit was often short lived. As a means of overcoming this limitation, plant breeders developed a new ladino clover selected for increased performance and persistence under grazing called RegalGraze. This new genetics has numerous advantages for livestock producers.
1. Fall over-seeding RegalGraze Ladino Clover into grass pastures pays financial dividends the first year! Over-seeding pastures in the fall optimizes establishment and results in significant improvement in pasture yield and quality during the next growing season.
2. Producers have reported up to a 200 percent return on investment in fertilizer savings alone. Research has estimated the nitrogen-fixing ability of RegalGraze Ladino Clover provides 70-100 lbs/N/acre/year, which significantly reduces fertilizer costs. One producer commented, "My Bermudagrass hay field is 22 acres. This year I have not used a quarter of the fertilizer I would normally use on this field."
3. OverGraze Protection is bred into RegalGraze to ensure years of productivity. To obtain the optimal benefit of a grass/legume mix, researchers recommend maintaining 20 to 30 percent clover in the pasture. In choosing a clover, the small and intermediate leaf type clovers are less desirable in grass pasture mixes since they tend to be low growing, too aggressive and less productive. The tall, upright growth habit of ladino clovers is more desirable for use in grass pasture mixes, but had the limitation of not persisting well under grazing pressure. However, that limitation has been overcome with the development of RegalGraze Ladino Clover. It has been selected for increased performance and persistence under grazing. RegalGraze is the result of two successive generations of plant selection at the University of Georgia Eatonton Station for yield and survival under high stocking rates.
4. Reduces cost for supplemental feeding. RegalGraze’s bred in OverGraze Protection helps stabilize the optimal 20 to 30 percent legume mix in the pasture, resulting in better overall yields. RegalGraze’s early spring growth continues into summer and early fall, providing season-long forage production and reducing the need for supplemental feed.
5. The addition of RegalGraze to a fescue pasture dilutes the negative effects of fescue toxicity. Over-seeding RegalGraze Ladino Clover into tall fescue pastures helps dilute the negative effect of fescue toxicity on livestock production.
6. Cattle prefer to graze legumes. The addition of a legume to pastures most often increases forage quality and grazing performance of livestock. However, the preferential grazing or overgrazing of the legume generally results in plant loss. RegalGraze’s advantage is its ability to survive frequent top growth removal by grazing animals or haying, and its ability to rejuvenate itself via active stolon growth and/or by self-seeding. RegalGraze’s ability to persist under grazing will help optimize animal and pasture performance.
7. Cattle prefer the large leaf RegalGraze Ladino Clover over other clovers. Farmers need to be sure and ask about leaf size when purchasing clover seed, since the large leaf type of RegalGraze Ladino Clover is more desirable when compared to small and intermediate leaf clovers whose lower-growth habit is less preferred by livestock and wildlife. RegalGraze’s large, palatable leaves and its upright growth habit provides excellent forage for livestock and undoubtedly contributes to cattle preference that has been documented with RegalGraze when compared to forage mixes utilizing small and intermediate leaf clover. RegalGraze’s leaf size is approximately double that of intermediate leaf clovers and triple that of small leaf clover varieties.
RegalGraze has low levels of anti-quality factors (cyanogenic glucosides), making it more palatable than small and intermediate leaf clovers
8. Cattle performance is increased when grazing Ladino Clover. Alabama research demonstrated an extra 44 percent gain by steers over tall fescue alone.
9. RegalGraze has a longer grazing season than annual clovers like crimson and arrowleaf clovers.
RegalGraze Ladino Clover will provide several years of production compared to annual clovers. RegalGraze starts with the spring grazing season and continues growth well into the fall or early-winter.
10. Inexpensive and easy to establish! The planting rate of RegalGraze is only three to five pounds per acre, making it relatively inexpensive in a mix for pasture renovation or for over-seeding into established pastures.
Summary: What Advantages Does RegalGraze’s OverGraze Protection Provide to the Southern Producer?
Over-seeding RegalGraze into grass pastures in the fall is a low-cost management practice to maximize profits on existing acreage by increasing forage yield and quality. RegalGraze demonstrates better plant survival under overgrazing pressure, which means a more stable legume plant population from year-to-year in a grass/legume pasture. Achieving the optimal 20-30 percent legume component will increase a pasture’s forage quality and RegalGraze’s nitrogen-fixing ability will supply approximately 70-100 lbs/N/acre/yr to increase the grass forage yield and quality. RegalGraze’s OverGraze Protection will make it easier for the producer to maintain the optimal species mix of legume/grass in established pastures, thus significantly improving profitability.
For detailed information on how to plant and/or manage RegalGraze Ladino Clover, contact your AGRI-AFC representative or local Extension specialist.
Don Miller, PhD, is Director of Product Development for Producer’s Choice Seed.