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Topics : Species and Forage Variety Trials : Species Fact Sheets : Red Clover

Species: Red Clover

Additional red clover information via the Forage Information System (FIS)


Red Clover Fertility

Soil tests are required for proper determination of soil nutrient availability. In soils with a pH below 6.0, addition of lime is essential to make the soil less acidic and improve the nitrogen fixing activity of red clover. Nutrients should be added to the soil on the basis of a soil test. Starter fertilizer applications up to 20-60-20 lb. per acre may benefit red clover seedings. Soil test recommendations which exceed this amount should be incorporated into the seedbed prior to planting.

Nitrogen (N) is essential for amino acid and protein production. Atmospheric N is captured (fixed) and converted into plant N by well nodulated plants. On acid soils with pH less than 5.5, nodulation and N fixation are suppressed and fertilizer N should be suppled for vigorous growth. However, excess N fertilizer also reduces nodulation and substitutes for atmospheric N which would have been fixed by the nodule.

Red clover should be top dressed annually with fertilizer (using soil testing as a guide for determining fertilizer requirements) as long as the plant numbers are sufficient for economic production. When the red clover makes up less than 30 percent of the clover-grass mix, apply 30 or 50 pounds of N per acre on sandy or clay soils, respectively.

Additional and more detailed information on forage fertilization is also available.