Submitted to: Great Lakes Grazing Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/11/2002
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum Bieb.) is a relatively low growing, spreading perennial legume. Its primary use in agriculture will likely be as a grazing crop because of its prostrate growth habit, its leafiness, and its high moisture content. The first growth in spring, however, can be harvested as hay or silage. Its spreading growth habit makes it ideal for soil erosion control. The exceptional winterhardiness and persistence demonstrated in early trials were the primary impetus that prompted efforts to 1) characterize its growth and development, 2) determine its adaptation and management, and 3) attempt to overcome the limitations to its use. We discovered many things in our team research on this new crop. First year forage yields are lower than for alfalfa, red clover, and birdsfoot trefoil. Nodulation is remarkably slow, and seeding year yields can be improved with fertilizer N. Commercial rhizobial inoculum should be improved. Selection for seedling vigor has been successful but is insufficient to match yields of other forage legume species. Successful overseeding Kura clover into established cool-season grass stands requires reduction of grass competition. Once established, however, Kura clover is very competitive and produces yields equal to or greater than most other grazed legumes. Stands have persisted for at least 15 years in Minnesota, which is substantially longer than any other forage legume subjected to regular harvest. Symbiotic nitrogen fixation in pure stands averaged 125 lb per acre annually in established swards. This perennial forage legume appears to be well adapted to a wide range of soil conditions in the Upper Midwest. Research aimed at improving seedling vigor and nodulation will provide the largest gains in adoption of this crop.