Published Feb 6, 2018

Red Clover: Still the “Cadillac” of Cover Crops

By Practical Farmers of Iowa


In many regions of North America, red clover has a long history of use as an underseeded cover crop in small grain systems. While enthusiasm for cover crops is increasing, red clover use is in decline due to perceptions that other cover crop options are superior, and also due to concerns of poor red clover stand establishment.  Research data, however consistently demonstrates that red clover is still the preferred cover crop for soil health, rotation effect, and nitrogen contribution.  When used in combination with winter wheat in a corn/soybean system, the impact on soil health and economics is profound.  Based on 20+ years of red clover experience, Dr. Deen will describe how to estimate yield and nitrogen benefits of red clover and will discuss recent research aimed at ensuring red clover stand uniformity when underseeded to either small grains or corn.

Bill Deen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph.  He has internationally recognized knowledge of crop rotation, cover crops, tillage and field-based research techniques and experience managing interdisciplinary research efforts based on long-term field trials. He has been involved in red clover research and extension for the past 20 years.