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Why grow pasture legumes?
A hard-seeded legume-based pasture can:
- offer free nitrogen which improves the productivity of other pasture species, the persistence of the pasture and the nutritional content of the whole pasture
- fix free nitrogen for the cropping phase of the rotation
- extend the production window
- improve pasture resilience to climatic conditions and seasonal variation due to their deep roots and/or capacity to produce sufficient seed for regeneration in subsequent years, even under adverse growing conditions
- provide more options for weed control in preparation for the cropping phase
- improve overall soil health
- regenerate after the cropping phase without re‑sowing (species and variety-specific)
- produce hard seed which can be harvested using standard grain harvesting equipment, reducing costs
- be sown outside the crop sowing window with summer (unscarified or in-pod seed) and dry sowing options
- be sown within the cropping phase using low-cost techniques, such as twin seeding (unscarified or in‑pod seed) with a cereal crop
- produce high quantities of nutritious winter feed
- provide similar and, in some cases, higher weight gain in ewes and lambs in winter and spring compared with lucerne, lucerne/phalaris and volunteer pastures
- be used for a high quality hay (particularly bladder clover) offering similar and, in some cases, higher weight gains than sub-clover or lucerne/oaten hay.