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Seeding clover provides benefits for pastures
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DODGEVILLE - Landowners and farmers in southwest Wisconsin are reminded that seeding clover in late winter improves pastures for the growing season. According to Gene Schriefer, agriculture agent for University of Wisconsin- Extension in Iowa County, when the snow is melted but the ground is frozen in late February to early April, freezing and thawing of the soil surface will plant small seeds that are broadcast on a closely grazed or mowed pasture.

The reminder is part of the regional Grazing Broker project. More than 200 landowners and livestock producers in nine counties in southwest Wisconsin are engaged to keep grasslands intact by decoupling land ownership and pasture management through contract grazing. Adding clover improves the rental value of pastures because clover's deep roots allow it to grow during the heat and drought of late summer.

In addition to filling the summer slump in forage production, five to 10 pounds of clover seed inoculated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria will eventually capture 20 to 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre. This nitrogen is released slowly to make the grass green and lush and increase its appeal for grazing.

Livestock producers may face a dilemma between investing in pasture renovation and switching to a class of livestock with market demand but greater nutritional needs. Seeding clover can increase pasture yield at a cost ranging from $10 to $30 per ton of additional forage. Over time, managed grazing and fertilizing, according to soil test recommendations, can shift the pasture species to a higher-energy mix suitable for grass-finishing cattle or growing dairy heifers.

A field day is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 19 at the Balch Farm, 8712 Brue Road, Hollandale, to demonstrate clover seeding by broadcast and no-till methods. Speakers will provide lessons including how to calibrate a no-till drill, balancing clover with animal health and how pollinators benefit from clover. The workshop is co-sponsored by Southwest Badger RC and D, UW-Extension and Peak Forage Products LLC. The cost for the event, lunch and a one-pound bag of clover seed is $5 per person. The event is open to the public but RSVP is requested at 608-732-1202 before March 10.

Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working in the southwest Wisconsin region. The organization's mission is to implement natural resource conservation, managed growth and sustainable rural economic development in the area through education and implementation of best practices relating to agriculture, grasslands, forests and surface waters.

The grazing broker connects landowners with livestock producers to keep grasslands intact and increase support for the restoration of additional productive grasslands. The project is supported by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation. To sign-up to receive updates on events in the region visit, phone 608-732-1202 or email