IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE - The information on this site is subject to a disclaimer and a copyright notice.
European Flag    Europa The European Commission Research Agriculture FAIR
index by sub-area Reformed CAP
index by country United Kingdom

European farms for effective clover technology

Contract nr: FAIR-CT97-3819
Project nr: 3819
Project type: SD
Starting date: 01/03/1998
Duration: 51 months
Total cost: 1,270,387 EUR
EC Contribution: 670,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Armin MUNZINGER
Research topic: Optimization of methods, systems and primary production chains
Acronym: EFFECT

The use of legumes such as white clover as a source of biological nitrogen, and improved animal nutrition in grass-based livestock systems is recognised as the way forward for the less intensive, more environmentally friendly and sustainable farming systems of the future. Organic systems depend almost entirely on legumes for their nitrogen source. Uptake of clover-based systems by farmers has been slow because of perceived fears concerning their reliability and the persistency of the clover component.

To increase the uptake and utilisation of white clover in European grassland farming by (1) demonstrating new technology to improve the performance and reliability of grass/white clover swards on commercial farms, and (2) organising a publicity programme to highlight the benefits of the new technology demonstrated.

Proposed Programme
To overcome these problems and to achieve the stated project objectives, it is proposed to establish a total of 24 demonstration sites on farms in six European countries. The sites will be distributed as follows UK seven, Ireland two, Netherlands four, Germany three, Spain four, France four. The farms will encompass a range of farming systems and situations from organic to conventional and from dairying to dry stock farming. Each farm will demonstrate the same core package of new clover technology designed to improve the reliability and performance of grass/white clover pastures.

Technology to be demonstrated
The clover technology package will consist of introducing new improved white clover varieties into existing pastures using oversowing techniques, inoculation of clover seed and the persuance of a pasture management strategy designed to optimise clover content and persistence.

Publicising the outcome
The participating farms will be used as focal points for a series of public events designed to demonstrate the benefits of the proposed technology package to local farmers and policy influencers from government bodies and farming organisations. These events will receive wide coverage in the local farming press. A video will be made during the course of the project for use at farmers' meetings and discussion groups. Advisory literature based on the outcome of the project will be published in English and in the participating country's own language while more formal presentations on the project will be made at appropriate national and international conferences. A formal report on the outcome of the project will be published and widely circulated to interested organisations.

Current situation/results
Oversowing was carried out on 21 of the 24 farms in the first year of the project and on all farms in the second year. A total of approximately 200 hectares was oversown involving about 70 sites on the farms.
The provision of inoculated pelleted clover seed for use in this project represents a major technological and commercial breakthrough for the involved seed company. 1998 was the first time that the new ABER clover varieties became commercially available from this company in inoculated pelleted form. It was also the first time that such seed has been simultaneously used in so many European countries.
The oversowing operation was carried out reasonably well to very well on around 75% of the sites, while the effectiveness of oversowing was poor to very poor on about 25% of the sites. Weather conditions at the time of oversowing and shortly afterwards was considered to be good to very good on 86% of the sites in relation to conditions for machine operation and subsequent clover establishment. The remaining sites were affected by poor wet and cold conditions which reduced the success of the oversowing operation.
Success of the oversowing technique appears to depend greatly on the openness of the grass sward at the time of seed insertion, and on the prevailing weather conditions. More difficult densely matted grass swards require preconditioning, either mechanically or by herbicide or a combination of both treatments, to ensure successful oversowing.
The project has received considerable initial publicity through the press, TV and radio within the participating countries and through farmers' meetings and open days organised by the Country Project Leaders and participating organisations.


Scottish Agricultural Colleges (SAC)
Agronomy Department
Ferguson Building
Craibstone Estate, Bucksburn
UK-AB 21 9YA Aberdeen
Tel.: +44 1224 71 10 72
Fax: +44 1224 71 12 93


  • Gwyn MOSELEY
    Institute of Grass and Environmental Research
    Plas Gogerddan
    UK-SY23 3EB Aberystwyth
    Tel.: +44 1970 62 36 83
    Fax: +44 1970 62 36 83

    Department of Agriculture
    Greenmount College of Agriculuture and Horticulture
    Greenmount Road 22
    UK-BT41 4PU Antrim
    Tel.: +44 1849 42 67 61
    Fax: +44 1849 42 67 77

  • Andre LE GALL
    Institut de l'Élevage (Association Loi 1901 APE731 Z)
    Rue De Bercy 149
    F-75595 Paris
    Tel.: +33 2 99 14 86 28
    Fax: +33 2 99 14 87 55

  • Ton BAARS
    Louis Bolk Instituut
    Hoofdstraat 24
    NL-3972 La Driebergen
    Tel.: +31 34 351 78 14
    Fax: +31 34 351 56 11

  • Michael WACHENDORF
    Institut für Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenzüchtunglehrstuhl Grünland und Futterbau Der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
    Olshausenstrasse 40
    D-24098 Kiel
    Tel.: +49 431 880 21 37
    Fax: +49 431 880 45 68

  • Juan PINEIRO
    Centro de Investigaciones Agrarias de Mabegondo
    Apartado 10
    E-15080 La Corura
    Tel.: +34 98 167 30 00
    Fax: +34 98 167 36 56

Commercial Sponsors

    Thomas Hatzenbichler and Sohn
    Fischering 2
    A-9433 St. Andrae
    Tel.: +43 4 358 22 87
    Fax: +43 4 358 22 08

  • John GILBERT
    Germinal Holdings Ltd.
    Commercial Road
    UK-BT39 3ES Banbridge
    Tel: +44 1820 66 27 77
    Fax: +44 1820 66 26 88
  Search Top