The importance of the role of the legume plant known as the clover, is growing on Irish farms.

Legal requirements to reduce fertiliser usage, along with needs to reduce chemical fertiliser for environmental reasons – as well as holding forage production on farms, means that clover has very much returned to the fore.

In the last two years are so, clover has been really pushed due to the fact that it is able to take in nitrogen (N) from the atmosphere, which it can then use to grow herbage.


Many farms have already began the clover journey and have started to establish it in paddocks on their farms.

While many others have not yet, now is a good time if you have not already done so, to identify paddocks that may be suitable for establishing clover.

The paddocks that are suitable will be the ones that have a low weed burden and a high level of soil fertility.

Clover requires soil indexes of three for phosphorus (P) and potassium (K); it also requires a soil pH of 6.5.

It is also important not to select too much area to try and establish it in. These paddocks will need to be managed differently to all the other paddocks on the farm, and will need to be grazed at the correct times.

Having too many paddocks like this will make it difficult – if not impossible, to manage. You should aim to have it planted in roughly 15-20% of the farm.

Weather depending, from next month and into May is the ideal time to sow clover, as typically during this time, there is a combination of good sunlight and moisture available.

If you wait until June or July, it is too dry and the seed won’t be able to penetrate down into the hard soil.


For the farms that have already started to establish clover on the farm, the process should continue in 2024.

You should have a good idea of the method that works best on your farm and how to manage paddocks in the first season after sowing.

Some of the farms could now have up to 45% of their farms with clover present by this time next year, which is very positive.

However, almost 50% of the farm having clover does create other potential issues, such as bloat.

This may mean that some management practices may need to be adopted to prevent against cases of bloat.