Note to readers, attached is a complete final report for FNE00-314
This project set out to compare no-till seeding of alfalfa, no-till seeding of clover, and frost seeding of clover against a control plot receiving lime and fertilizer only in an attempt to renovate pasture land and boost forage production. Each technique was tested on field plots; forage samples from each plot was analyzed after grazing. The goal was to gather and disseminate information about forage improvement techniques.
A pasture paddock was separated off and four different treatments and a control were repeated four times. The treatments were alfalfa no-till drilled at 6 lbs/acre, red clover drilled at 6 lbs/acre, red clover frost-seeded at 6 lbs/acre, and a fertilizer treatment of 87 lbs/acre of 46-0-0 after a grazing in June and a clipping in September. All four areas got 87 lbs/acre of 11-52-0. The frost seeding was done in mid-April and the no-till in early June. Sheep were grazed rotationally throughout the summer. The pasture has been in grass for more than 20 years and had a thick grass stand with little legume. It is on a side hill and tends to be wet.
In October, treatments and checks were evaluated. On visual evaluation, only the fertilizer treatment appeared different in that it was taller and a darker green. There was no sign of alfalfa in the alfalfa treatment and little red clover in the two red clover treatments. The NIR analysis did show some difference in protein and yield; there were no significant changes in energy.
The NIR analysis indicates that visual evaluation gives little insight in to the true state of the treatments. The control and all treatments were actually all of good quality due to regular grazing and clipping. Alfalfa did not do well because the field is wet. The best yields and the most protein came from the urea fertilizer; the highest percent protein and second-highest yield came from the drilled clover. The frost-seeded clover also showed significant increases in yield and protein.
Pasture improvement can be done several ways. Adding nitrogen fertilizer has the greatest yield, but can be costly and time consuming. In this trial, alfalfa did not work well because of soil and field conditions; other conditions may have different results. Both frost seeding and no-till drilling red clover increased protein and yield. In general, it seems practical to seed clover into a grass pasture, and the technique is not a factor.