A substantial proportion of the improved permanent pastures found across the UK were last reseeded many decades ago. Over time the grasses and legumes originally planted have been replaced by unsown species, leading to a decline in pasture and stock performance. Sowing forage legumes into such swards can lead to substantial improvements in both nutrient supply and nutrient use efficiency. An alternative approach to mechanical seeding could be to feed Trifolium (clover) seeds to stock. Using the dacron bag technique, we assessed the viability of seeds of varieties of Trifolium repens (white clover; n = 8) and T. pratense (red clover; n = 8) following digestion in the rumen. Most seeds germinated within the rumen, regardless of clover species or variety. For red clover, only seeds from the variety Sangria continued to grow, and the proportion of these relative to those incubated was low (0.22). Almost all the white clover varieties had seeds grow on, but the proportions relative to those that germinated were variable and generally low. The highest proportions were recorded for the varieties AberAce (0.60) and AberDai (0.46). The between-variety variation in seedling performance suggests that improved seedling resilience could be selected for as part of breeding programmes targeting more sustainable, multi-functional grasslands.
|Title of host publication||Grassland at the heart of circular and sustainable food systems|
|Subtitle of host publication||Proceedings of the 29th General Meeting of the EGF|
|Publisher||European Grassland Federation|
|Publication status||Published - 2022|