What Kind of Mixtures?

(Lesson 2. Plant Species Selection continued)

Mixtures should be kept simple. Keep in mind that you are trying to match forage species with the soil characteristics of a particular field. Persistent species are often not as competitive during the seedling stage as less persistent species. Excessive competition of complex mixtures (more then 4 species) can result in the persistent and desirable species not surviving during the establishment period.

Advantages of Mixtures

Mixtures will provide more uniform seasonal production and are higher yielding than pure stands. The desirable traits of grasses and legumes are combined in mixtures:

  • Legumes provide nitrogen for grasses in a mixture.
  • Legumes improve forage quality and reduce the potential for nitrate poisoning.
  • The fibrous root system of grasses helps in stabilizing slopes and reducing erosion
  • The stand life of forages is lengthened with grasses.
  • Grasses reduce bloat potential when included with legumes
  • Grasses compete better with weeds then legumes.

Seeding Rates

Table 1 gives recommendations for seeding rates of legumes, grass and grass-legume mixtures for pastures in Maine.

For sod seeding into grass pasture:

Table 1. Seeding rates for pasture in Main

Species lbs./ac Species lbs./ac
Ladino/White Clover 4 Red Clover 5
– with smooth bromegrass 10 – with smooth bromegrass 10
– with orchardgrass 4 – with orchardgrass 4
– with timothy 3 – with timothy 3
– with reed canarygrass 7 – with reed canarygrass 5
– with perennial ryegrass 4 – with perennial ryegrass 4
– with smooth bromegrass &
– orchardgrass
6
3
– with smooth bromegrass &
– orchardgrass
6
3
Birdsfoot trefoil, pure1 10-14 Reed canarygrass 8
Smooth bromegrass 10
Smooth bromegrassh
with orchardgrass
10
3

1Best results with a clear seeding of birdsfoot trefoil

See Appendix B; Frost Seeding: Low-Tech Wonder or Wishful Thinking?

Forage Yield Trial Information

Click on the links below to finish Lesson 2: