Perennial Legumes for Sustainable Pasture Systems

Project Overview

LNC98-134
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1998: $99,800.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2001
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Craig Sheaffer
University of Minnesota

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: dairy

Practices

  • Animal Production: pasture renovation, grazing - rotational, feed/forage
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Abstract:

    Objectives:
    1. To evaluate alternative pasture renovation establishment strategies for new perennial legumes using a research/education network.
    2. To develop a new kura clover variety through plant breeding.

    Methods/approach: This is a participatory research/demonstration project with research conducted on-farm in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Objective 1: Producers interacted with personnel from nonprofit organizations and universities in evaluating alternative establishment strategies that fit their farm operations.

    Treatments included legume species and establishment strategies. Species: kura clover; and either birdsfoot trefoil, alfalfa, or red clover. Establishment strategies for pasture renovation: The strategies varied depending on the farm operation but included some of the following:
    (a) Frost seeding into existing pasture;
    (b) broadcast seeding and packing following moldboard plowing or disking;
    (c) No-till seeding using a no-till drill; and
    (d) companion crop or ‘solo seeding’ following primary and secondary tillage.

    Objective 2: Experimental populations that have undergone three cycles of selection for seedling vigor under controlled conditions in the greenhouse were evaluated under field conditions in Minnesota.

    Results: Experiments involving kura clover and other legumes were established in diverse environments in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan; however, successful establishment varied with environment and establishment strategy. Competition with existing vegetation and weeds was an important factor in influencing the success of establishment. Improved populations of kura clover had superior establishment and yields compared to existing varieties. Educational activities including workshops and field days were conducted in each state.

    Impacts and Potential Contributions: kura clover is a promising new perennial forage legume that has potential to increase the productivity of pastures if successfully established. However, our work showed that establishing kura clover into existing or new pastures is challenging. For successful establishment, we recommend maximizing the suppression of existing vegetation and seeding during periods of favorable soil moisture. New varieties with improved yield and vigor should enhance establishment and profitability. Greater use of kura clover should increase long-term farm profitability.

    Project objectives:

    1. To evaluate alternative pasture renovation establishment strategies for perennial legumes using a research/education network.

    2. To develop a new kura clover variety through plant breeding.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.