Overview and vision for white clover
AbstractWhite clover (Trifolium repens L.) is the key to the international competitive advantage of New Zealand's pastoral industries, which are reliant on a cheap, high quality feed source. White clover benefits pastoral agriculture through its ability to fix nitrogen, its high nutritive value, its seasonal complementarity with grasses, and its ability to improve animal feed intake and utilisation rates. The annual financial contribution of white clover through fixed nitrogen, forage yield, seed production and honey production is estimated as $3.095 billion. The impact of white clover has resulted from understanding how it grows, and then developing appropriate management systems, fertiliser strategies, and improved cultivars. While the future of white clover as the legume base of our pasture is secure there are challenges and opportunities ahead. These include the increasing use of mineral nitrogen, competitiveness with high endophyte ryegrasses, filling gaps in our knowledge base, responding to industry signals, the advent of transgenic technologies, the removal of anti-quality characters particularly those associated with the incidence of bloat, and assuring that nitrogen fixation rates, in grazed pastures, increase as the yield potential of white clover is itself increased. Keywords: economic value, nitrogen fixation, nutritive quality, pastoral agriculture, white clover
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