Farmers who do not use herbicides on their grassland because of fears over killing the clover could be missing a trick by not embracing clover safe sprays.
More than 70% of farmers who do not use herbicides on their grassland say they do not have faith in clover safe herbicides.
However, Nufarm’s Brent Gibbon says there are a number of sprays on the market which cannot only kill production-inhibiting weeds, but also safeguard the clover.
“Some farmers favour spraying new leys with a non-clover safe spray and then stitching in clover later.
However, this can make clover establishment difficult, especially if there is a lack of rain,” he says.
“If a farmer definitely wants clover in the seed mix, we have a clover safe herbicide that works well.”
Cheshire farmer Chris Blythe believes clover is an essential component in his grass mixes and adds white clover to a blend of intermediate and late heading perennial rye-grasses, plus Timothy. He has been using clover safe sprays for a number of years.
“I’ve always had clover in the sward. It adds palatability, depth to the crop and adds nitrogen to the soil,” he says. “I’ve never had problems using sprays or with the clover dying.”
Weed control is part of Mr Blythe’s strategy to produce quality fresh grass and silage
“The reseed stage is the Achilles’ heel of perennial weeds such as docks. It is the ideal opportunity to get those perennials out of a ley and get grass established,” says Mr Gibbon.
Weeds in a reseed are best controlled at the 2-3 leaf stage and before the first grazing. Docks and chickweed are the two most critical weeds to control in reseeds and must be controlled at the seedling stage.
As there will be a mix of annual weeds and seedling perennials coming through in a reseed, a mix of Clover Master (2,4-DB) and Squire Ultra (amidosulfuron) will ensure coverage of a wide spectrum of weeds.
Use a mix of Clover Master (2,4-DB) and Squire Ultra (amidosulfuron) at an increased rate on established pasture.
In a study on a Welsh sheep farm, Mr Gibbon found an application of a mix of 3.3 litres/ha of Clover Master and 40g/ha of Squire Ultra achieved 90% control of docks in an established ley with a 20% infestation.
The grass was sprayed in September and there was no detrimental effect on the clover.
Get involved with #GrasslandToolkit
Visit the series homepage for more information