Skip to Main Content

The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Overseeding Unimproved Warm-Season Pasture with Cool- and Warm-Season Legumes to Enhance Forage Productivity
Year: 2010
Author(s): Bartholomew, P. W., Williams, R. D.
Source Title: Journal of Sustainable Agriculture
Source Type: Journal
pages: 125-140
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: Overseeding forage legumes into existing warm-season pasture may help to reduce cool-season forage deficit on small and resource-limited small farms in the southern Great Plains of the United States. Unimproved warm-season grass pastures were overseeded with Korean lespedeza (Lespedeza stipulacea Maxim) or were not overseeded with summer legume. These same plots were subsequently overseeded with hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth), crownvetch (Coronilla varia L.), black medic (Medicago lupulina L.) or ladino white clover (Trifolium repens L.) or, not overseeded with cool-season legume. Including lespedeza in a forage mixture increased total forage yield by an average of 15%, or 1700 kg ha-1 over 4 years. Overseeding with cool-season legumes provided a net benefit in total annual forage yield of 0.75 kg for each 1.0 kg of legume produced. Yield increases resulting from overseeding with hairy vetch or black medic were largely limited to the harvest season following sowing, while overseeded crownvetch or white clover provided limited short- to medium-term yield benefit. Improvement of low-productivity pasture resulting from legume introduction is likely to be slow and will require sustained management input to ensure the presence of a productive legume plant stand.