Clover increases protein content and grass yield

Using clover and cutting at the right time are the two most important factors to ensure high grass yields with excellent protein content. Even with the extremely strict fertilisation rules, 14 tonnes of dry matter per hectare with 16% protein is achievable.

Relationship between nitrogen and protein

Nitrogen is directly related to the protein content in grass. A plant makes 6.25 kg of crude protein from 1 kg of nitrogen (N). 16% protein in roughage is ideal to produce milk with a high protein content. A first cut of 3,500 kg of grass fertilised with 100 kg of nitrogen yields 500 kg of protein (14%). Clover is a possible solution for a shortage of raw protein. 

Benefits of clover in a meadow

Adding clover in a meadow increases the protein content in the grass. Clover acts with Rhizobium bacteria to fix atmospheric nitrogen. White clover fixes up to 150 kgs of nitrogen per hectare, red clover up to 350 kg per hectare. As a rule of thumb, each tonne of clover produced leaves 25 kilograms of nitrogen in the soil. Grass then utilises this nitrogen to its advantage in summer and autumn. Despite a lower application of nitrogen, livestock farmers are ensured high-protein yields from their grassland.


What’s the ideal quantity of clover in a meadow?

30 to 50% clover in a meadow gives the highest milk yields, best health and minimal losses. You can control the amount of clover in a meadow by altering your cutting height. Cutting short (4 cm) or leaving the cows in the meadow for half a day longer will increase the proportion of clover in the meadow. Cutting higher (7 cm) stimulates grass growth, and reduces the percentage of clover.

The ideal time to cut

Besides adding clover in a meadow, cutting at the right time is essential to ensure the protein content in grass is high. Imagine a cut of 3,500 kilos of dry matter contains 560 kilo of protein. This represents the ideal cutting time, because the protein content is 16%. If the grass continues to grow, an average of 300 kilograms of dry matter is added per day. However, the protein content remains at 560 kilos, so the overall protein percentage in the grass decreases.

Clover mixtures

Barenbrug has a number of clover mixtures in its range, each with its own specific properties.


Click here for more information about Barenbrug’s clover mixtures.

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