Growing More Grass With Less Nitrogen, Where Do I start?

I wrote and published this article 15 months ago but make no apologies about doing so again as farmers are now being paid £102/ha to maintain or establish clover in their grassland swards.

The statement in the title isn’t logical but if clarified with …. and increasing the proportion of clover in the sward ….. it could make sense.  We say that if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it, i.e., the clover.  Measuring doesn’t involve getting on hands and knees and assessing microscopically the proportion of clover in the sward.

The level of clover distribution will determine how to manage the sward subsequently to increase the clover distribution and thus the proportion in the sward.

  1. In April, take a quadrant and walk in the shape of a W across a field and throw it on the ground.  If there is one or lots of clover in the quadrant give it a Y .
  2. Repeat every 20 metres that you walk, if no clover plant give it an N.
  3. By the end of the walk across the field you can calculate the % of quadrants that have clover vs the total.

Follow On Management
0-40% distribution - treat with High N rate to meet target yields or reseed with Clover.

40-70% distribution - oversow with Clover in spring/early summer.

70% + distribution - cut out N application entirely from May onwards.

As the clover plant grows over the surface of the ground, if encouraged it will spread where you have a 40% + distribution in a field.

Whole farm research in Ireland is showing the increased benefits in terms of profits, lower emissions and output being maintained with little or no N saving £,000’s resulting in an extra £560/ha extra profit.

Unfortunately, no one sells clover seed to farmers as you are the sole beneficiaries as well as the environment.  It is more difficult to manage than applying Nitrogen, but a lot more rewarding if you follow and implement the well proven management strategies which are practiced at research and now at farm level.

Although at the time or writing in early April, clover is furthest from peoples’ minds with the extra workload and issues of the late start to spring and delayed turnout to grass for livestock. Make a start today by resolving in 2024 to reduce your dependence on Nitrogen permanently and save thousands of pounds annually in your business,  by contacting Gerard at 
or Tel: 07976 426420.