The ladino clover growing up amongst the perennial ryegrass in Bob Brewington's pasture was thick and lush. That's one of the things that has amazed the Versialles no-tiller this spring. He frost-seeded the clover around the first of March.
"I wanted to get some legumes back in the pasture, and I gave overseeding a shot," he says. "We've really got a lot of clover coming."
Brewington likes what he sees from the perennial ryegrass, too. He planted it a year ago at frost-seeding time, especially hoping to improve cover on areas where cattle congregate for feeding. With the perennial ryegrass in place, it's providing cover to prevent erosion on spots that are otherwise often bare.
Some producers take care of those spots by digging down 8 to 9 inches, laying down a geotextile fabric and then adding rock, followed by a layer of limestone. These heavy-use area projects are suitable for cost-sharing under some conservation programs, including the long-term EQIP program administered through the Farm Service Agency. The idea is to cut down on soil erosion and eliminate as much mud as possible during wet seasons. The areas do need maintenance, and perhaps re-lining, after time, say those who have used them for several years.
As for the clover, Duane Drockelman, coordinator of the South Laughery Creek Watershed in southeast Indiana, says that Brewington isn't the only one who has seen success from frost-seeding this year. Drockelman isn't sure if the cool, wet, weather pattern favored successful seedings, particularly for clover, or if some other factor is involved. He does know, however, that frost-seedings into existing pastures aren't always that successful.
"Two years ago it was a disaster to do that," he says. "Many people invested money in seed and saw nothing in return. The problem was the hot, dry summer. The young seedlings came up, got a couple of inches tall, and then just withered when it turned hot and dry."
Another phenomenon is also baffling about clover showing up in many pasture fields and untilled fields by mid-May this year, Drockelman notes. "Several farmers are telling me they didn't plant it. Perhaps there was seed there form some past clover crop. All we know is that this has been a very good spring for clover, especially in our area. Unfortunately, it hasn't been a very good start for planting corn and soybeans."