Adding Legumes to Pastures Provides Weighty Benefit
February 3, 2012
This spring, consider adding legumes to your pastures to reduce costs and increase production.
Five years of grazing research in eastern Nebraska showed that brome/legume pastures produced almost four-tenths of a pound higher average daily gain on yearlings than did straight brome pastures fertilized with 50 lb of nitrogen.
Carried through the whole season, that faster gain produced an extra 51 lb of beef per acre with no nitrogen fertilizer cost. Adding the value of heavier yearlings plus reduced fertilizer expenses resulted in more than an extra $50 per acre profit.
Similar research was conducted with warm-season grasses with nearly the same results.
Red Clover a Quick Start
February and March are good months to start adding legumes. Red clover is the easiest one to establish because seed can be broadcast on pastures even if they are covered with several inches of snow. As snow melts and temperatures fluctuate in early spring, the seeds will get worked into the soil, germinate, and start to grow. With a little attention to controlling competition from the existing grass, new red clover plants can start increasing your pasture production by summer.
Extension Forage Specialist