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Clover in the wheat

Test plot Heide 2022/23

Sowing 2021

Based on what we have learned so far, we have chosen the “LG Character” variety this year. The wheat was sown directly into the clover at the beginning of October at 350 grains per m². The Primera DMC seed drill from Amazone, which had been adapted to the test, was used again.

In both variants, the wheat stock developed satisfactorily and evenly after sowing.

Weizenaussaat 2021

Sowing 2022

After the positive experiences of last year, we decided to use the "Character" variety again this year. The wheat was sown at the beginning of October directly into the clover - which we had previously mulched - at 370 grains per m². As in previous years, the Primera DMC seed drill from Amazone, which had been adapted to the test, was used.

In order not to experience nasty surprises with field slugs again, we took precautions directly when sowing...

Aussaat 2022

Winter 2022/23

A herbicide trial was also carried out in the late autumn of this year in the clover variety. The focus was on practical measures and mixtures, that are customary in the company.

The first reactions of clover and winter wheat to the various applications can already be documented at the beginning of winter (which has not yet arrived). Let's see how it goes over the next few weeks.

Winter 2022

Spring 2023

Employee and master candidate Elia made the first arrangements for his master project back in the fall. In a nitrogen increase test, yield and quality parameters as well as economics in the cultivation system with and without living mulch are compared - a

project from practice and for practice.

The first rating results, including the number of plants after the winter, show that we have not lost any plants over the winter by regulating the clover with the help of the herbicides customary on the farm. 

In addition, the main culture is very appealing in all variants and in the different fertilizer levels, plant samples were taken for EC 39 (flag leaf fully developed) to determine the nutrient supply.

The herbicide test carried out in winter also confirms previous findings and allows for recommendations for action.

It's exciting and we'll stay tuned!

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Schlag Neubitz 2021/22

Harvest 2023

This year's harvest in all crops, both on the farm and in the trials, turned out to be extremely difficult. An extremely early and hot period in mid-July, which brought the winter barley harvest forward, was followed by a three-week rain break with precipitation of around 200 litres/m². This had serious consequences for the quality and stability of the wheat. We had to record some storage in the clover plots, but by regulating the clover we were able to provide the main crop with the nutrient nitrogen.

Take a look at the graphs! The yield (graph 1) and the protein values (graph 2) in the fertiliser levels from 0% to 100% according to fertiliser requirements show interesting values. Just like the comparison of the years 2021 to 2023. We consider these results not only worth discussing, but from our point of view they reveal a lot of potential, but also one or two stumbling blocks.

The detailed samples and results from the fertiliser trial are currently being processed in the laboratory and in Elia's master thesis. The findings will be published later.


Test plot Neubitz 2021/22


Sowing 2021

Based on what we have learned so far, we have chosen the “Character” variety this year. The wheat was sown directly into the clover at the beginning of October at 350 grains per m². The Primera DMC seed drill from Amazone, which had been adapted to the test, was used again.

In both variants the wheat population developed satisfactorily and evenly after sowing.

Winter 2021/22

So far, the winter of 2021/2022 has tended to be on the wet and cold side. There have been no long periods of frost with really low temperatures, nor has there been extensive snow cover. The few days of frost left no traces in the clover and non-clover plots.


Also in late autumn/winter we set up a herbicide trial. Two test questions were in the foreground, which will also keep us busy in the spring:

  1. How resistant is clover to herbicides? 

  2. Can the growth of clover be regulated by herbicides and can the competitive pressure on wheat be reduced as a result?


Spring 2022

This spring again a fertilization trial was carried out in wheat. In order to compare the results with the first year, the original experimental setup was retained, but was supplemented by chemical and mechanical variants to regulate the clover. 


Harvest 2022

Due to the weather, this year's wheat harvest took place fairly early on July 25th. By implementing the experiences from last year, such as the choice of variety or early regulation of the living mulch, the loss of yield (marked with ∆ in the graphic) in the clover plots could be halved. In the variant with full fertilization (according to DBE), this was around 15% for the 2022 harvest. This positive trend can also be seen in the different levels of fertilizer intensity. And the fact that the protein content in the clover variants is higher than in the usual farm plots is very pleasing. 

Ertrag WW 2022.png

Test plot Hahn 2020/21

Sowing 2020

The winter wheat of the "RGT Reform" variety was sown at the end of September directly into the clover stand established with the previous field bean. The Primera DMC seed drill from Amazone, which had been adapted to the test, was used. In both variants, the wheat stock developed satisfactorily after sowing.


Winter 2020/21

In contrast to barley, there was no measurable frost damage in wheat on the test field. The focus of the sampling was in the area of the monthly Nmin investigations as well as in the weekly measurement of the soil moisture. Models for the nitrate dynamics were then calculated from both data sets in order to be able to record the effects of the living mulch on nitrate leaching.

  • In the months of October, November and February, significantly lower nitrate levels could be detected in the clover variant, thus reducing the risk of nitrate leaching into the groundwater.

  • At the start of vegetation in March, the nitrate concentrations in the soil were approximately the same in both variants.

Nitratdynamik Weizen.png

Development of nitrate levels from October to March in winter wheat at the Hahn site for the two test variants (solid line = with clover, dashed line = without clover assigned to the primary axis) and the ⌀ volumetric water content (assigned to the secondary axis) in the top soil layer (0-30 cm). Statistically significant differences between the variants are marked with a p*.

Winter 20/21
Witterung Mineralisation.jpg

Temperature profile in the winter months November - January

The thin blue arrows mark the day of sampling. Die Thick blue arrows reflect the trend in temperature development. The red dashed line indicates the approximate temperature limit for the mineralization.

The development of nitrate levels in the soil is strongly influenced by the weather. In addition to precipitation, temperature in particular has a major influence on the mineralization of organic material.

  • In November and December there were very large temperature differences (marked with a Δ in the graph)

  • In the clover plots, the strong temperature fluctuations could have led to partial death of the clover with subsequent mineralization and thus influenced the nitrate levels

Spring 2021

In the spring, a fertilization test was carried out with different N fertilization intensities in order to be able to depict potential savings. For this purpose, the strip system with the mirrored large plots (P1 - P4) was supplemented by application windows with different N fertilization levels.

Frühjahr 20/21

Furthermore, the chlorophyll content of the variants with clover (MK) and without clover (OK) was recorded in the individual fertilizer levels at stage EC 31/32.

  • Significant differences could only be determined in the 0% variant.

  • The clover has no effect on the chlorophyll concentration of the wheat

The biomass distribution of the wheat alone and wheat with clover as living mulch at stage EC 31/32 was also determined.

  • The biomass of the wheat alone differs significantly only in the 0% variant.

  • The biomass of the wheat in the living mulch system is significantly lower than in the wheat alone.

  • The clover does not differ significantly within the fertilizer levels (biological fixation in the 0% -  variant?)

Harvest 2021

After a long wait due to the changeable weather, the harvest took place on August 25th. After the farms own combine harvester with GPS had threshed the test plots, the exact harvest of the test plots could take place in core threshing. 

Ernte 20/21

As in barley, the application windows with the different fungicide strategies were individually sampled and evaluated in wheat.

  • In contrast to barley, no statistically significant effects of the fungicide strategy could be determined in wheat

Fungi Weizen.jpg
Ertrag Weizen Düngung.jpg

The individual fertilization variants were repeated four times for exact harvesting and the yield was determined using the core threshing method.

  • In the usual farm variant (100%, fertilization according to needs) 2.5 tons/ha less wheat was harvested in the clover plots. 

  • The reduced fertilization led to significant yield losses in the wheat alone as well as in the living mulch system only in the 50% and 0% variants.



What have we learned and what's next?

In the first year of the trial, the main focus was on establishing the main seed in the permanent living mulch. We can state the following findings:

  • Establishing wheat into an existing clover stand works!

  • The clover is very well suited to minimizing the risk of nitrate leaching over the winter and can therefore contribute to groundwater protection!

  • The competition between living mulch and wheat is still too big, the yield is not yet satisfactory!

In the second year of the experiment, we wanted to tackle these questions:

  • How can we mechanically or chemically regulate the clover to minimize competition with the main crop? 

  • How can we manage to return the nutrients fixed in the biomass of the clover to the system? 

  • Is it possible to use the clover's ability to fix nitrogen from the air to reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers? 

In the third year of the experiment we will deal with these topics:

  • How can we combine customary production measures with the management of the clover stock and thus keep the competition with the main crop as low as possible? 

  • What differences in the different variants do the plant analyzes show with regard to the supply of trace nutrients?

  • Is this trend repeating itself this year in terms of nitrogen application and supply to the crop as well as the yield and quality of the harvested crops?

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