Legumes are a highly nutritious feed (protein and energy) for livestock which is the perfect companion to grasses in pasture. Legumes have the ability to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and utilise it to produce plant growth and incorporate this into the soil for other species to use, such as ryegrass.
Often during the summer season legumes can prove invaluable, with additional high quality feed during this period increasing the annual carrying capacity of pasture. Legumes include clovers, medics, vetch, lucerne, sulla, stylo and centro.
- High nutritious feed – high levels of energy and protein
- Palatable feed
- Companion to pasture grasses
- Good summer feed
There are a number of clovers available on the market, all with varying characteristics and benefits for your farm. White clovers are a perennial legume used in pasture mixes to fix nitrogen and to provide high quality forage. Best used on moderate to highly fertile soils. Red clovers are a short-lived, tap-rooted legume used in pasture mixes to provide high quality summer forage. Flowers later than white clover. May persist 2-4 years in mixed pastures and up to 5 years under favourable conditions. Performs best under low stocking rates, long summer rotations, or hay production.
Vetch is a multi-purpose legume that offers high quality feed in the winter months. It is ideal for early grazing (green pasture), dry grazing, green manure and hay & grain production. Vetch is suited to the lower-mid rainfall regions and a wide range of soils types. Vetch’s ability to produce nitrogen in the soils improves soil fertility which helps meet the nitrogen needs of the following crops.
Medics are high protein self-regenerating annual clovers – if established successfully they can regenerate year after year if allowed to set adequate seed. Medics are known for their great drought protection mechanisms which allows this legume to grow in areas of a minimum rainfall of 250mm. Their drought tolerance and persistence allow Medics to be grown over a range of soils and rainfall areas.
Growth patterns are predominately in autumn, winter and spring, with a well managed pasture producing up to 8 tonne per hectare, and up to 200kg/ha of nitrogen annually.