RAGT offers a range of companion species to support optimum pasture production, from forage herbs to clovers.
Companion herbs such as chicory and plantain are characterised by tap roots that allow access to deep soil minerals, which can support grazing animals in hard/dry environments. Herbs offer high nutritional quality and production and can enhance permanent pastures.
Clovers are one of the main drivers underpinning New Zealand’s high pasture production. Due to their nitrogen fixing capability, clovers are one of the most economic and valuable additions to any grass based pasture system. Not only do they provide much needed soil-available nitrogen to the companion grasses accompanying them, but they have their own high quality attributes – metabolisable energy ME and protein content – and are high producers. This leads to high animal intake and pasture performance.
The most common clovers used in New Zealand farming systems are white and red clovers but there are also a range of annuals, such as subterranean clovers which are suitable in specific environments. Lucerne can also be used as a legume component in perennial mixes where suitable.
Red clover is a perennial tap-rooted legume with a high feed value. It performs well in summer and has superior drought tolerance. Generally sown as part of a permanent pasture mix to add quality to the sward and to boost summer production. Red clover has limited growth over winter.
White clover’s ability to fix nitrogen, its high quality and relatively low sowing rate ensure it is a feature in most perennial pasture mixes. White clover has strong spring and summer growth, combined with good cooler season production.
Subterranean clover use is widespread throughout dryland areas of New Zealand. Its unique growing and seed setting characteristics make it valuable for dryland farming. Subterranean clover offers spring to summer production with limited cool season growth.
In some environments, where other legumes are less suitable, lucerne can be used as a legume component of a perennial pasture mix. This provides high quality to the sward with the ability to access moisture at depth. Lucerne gives the sward high quality feed, especially over summer.