Clover is a important part of hill country pastures, as it improves feed value leading to enhanced animal performance and fixes nitrogen to bolster grass growth and quality. Top-performing hill country pastures contain at least 20% clover, yet many hill country paddocks have as little as 2% clover present. Fertiliser applications offer an opportunity to apply both fertiliser and clover seed at the same time, with the aim of increasing clover establishment in pastures.
Common questions and answers for oversowing hill country
Where should I oversow?
|In dry regions the areas that give the best returns are usually south-facing slopes that are less than 35 degrees with good subdivision. Consider the soil fertility of hill blocks: soils with adequate phosphate, potassium, sulphur, molybdenum and pH (5.8-6.2) will enhance clover growth and presence.
When should you oversow?
|Oversown seeds are vulnerable to the extremes of temperature and moisture availability. In dryland North Island environments, oversowing is completed in summer/early autumn when soil moisture is present and before soil temperatures decline significantly. In contrast, South Island oversowing generally occurs in late winter/early spring to avoid unfavorable establishment during colder autumn and winter conditions.
Preparation for oversowing
|Prior to oversowing, careful planning should be undertaken. Paddocks should be soil tested to allow blocks with higher soil fertility to be targeted for autumn oversowing. During the season prior to oversowing, hard graze pastures to remove excess vegetation to allow seed to come into contact with the soil and support seedling establishment.
What species should I oversow?
|Several clover species are available to fill a range of conditions, with white clover, red clover, balansa clover and subterranean clover (autumn) all suitable for oversowing. Perennial white clovers, including Hilltop, are a good starting point for most oversowing projects. White clovers are well-suited to south facing slopes with higher moisture levels. Drier north-facing slopes are well-suited to annual clovers, including Bindoon subterranean clover and Taipan balansa clover, but do require specific management to set seed and establish a ‘seed bank’ for future years.
|Prillcote® seed treatment is recommended for aerial oversowing to improve ballistics and facilitate seed in reaching its target on the soil surface. Prillcote also contains rhizobia bacteria for fixing nitrogen, fungicides to protect against damping off diseases, a bird repellent and lime base that provides localised pH correction around the seedling. Clover seed can be applied aerially with Superstrike® treatment, which provides adequate ballistics for seed to soil contact. Clover Superstrike® seed treatment includes fungicides, insecticides and nutrients to enhance seed germination and survival. Superstrike treated clover also contains rhizobia bacteria for fixing nitrogen.