White Clover is the go-to yard crop for livestock owners the world over. A native of Europe and Central Asia, it has since become a popular choice in such far-flung regions as North America and New Zealand.
Australia, too, has seen the benefits of using White Clover as a ground cover. A cool season plant, White Clover is best grown in Australia’s more temperate regions. While it is relatively hardy, it will struggle to produce its best results if the climate is too warm or dry.
With these things in mind, what are the uses for White Clover?
The reason that White Clover has spread throughout the world is due to the way it excels in the following areas:
As a Pasture
As a pasture plant, White Clover produces very high yields, allowing more livestock to be kept on a piece of land than might otherwise be possible. When compared to more basic grasses, it offers far greater levels of nutrition for the livestock that grazes on it.
It is often used in combination with other perennial grasses. If you choose a partner grass that is a little more drought resistant, it can help the White Clover to cope with Australia’s often extreme conditions.
As a Living Mulch
The other common use for White Clover is as a living mulch. As a ground cover for things like vegetable gardens, vineyards and orchards, White Clover has a lot to offer.
The purpose that a living mulch usually serves is to suppress weed growth (by choking out any potential invaders), help to trap moisture, and regulate soil temperature. White Clover does all of these things well, but as an added advantage, it also adds a significant amount of nitrogen to the soil. Your fruit and vegetables are all the better for being surrounded by White Clover.
On top of the common uses, White Clover has a couple of other applications that are a little more offbeat.
Bees love White Clover. Being a densely growing and heavy pollinating plant, many beekeepers have used it to boost honey production efforts, by planting it in fields near the hives. Not only do the bees enjoy it, but it also makes for a beautifully light and sweet honey of the highest quality.
For Human Consumption
Why let your livestock have all the fun? Somewhat surprisingly, White Clover is actually a member of the pea family. While White Clover eaters will readily describe it as an “acquired taste”, there’s no doubting that the plant is good for you. High in protein and vitamins B and C, it packs a nutritious punch. The whole plant is edible, but perhaps introduce yourself to the foodstuff with a simple tea made from the blossoms.
It should be noted that while Red and Purple Clover are suitable for wine-making, White Clover is not.
To Attract Wildlife–
Wildlife sanctuaries around Europe have started to plant White Clover in an effort to attract native birds to the protected areas, and away from farmland where they’re at risk of getting shot. Geese seem to be one of White Clover’s biggest fans when used in this capacity. It remains to be seen whether it would be quite as effective here in Australia.
The unique qualities of White Clover give it a surprisingly wide range of uses. And whether you decide to use it as a ground cover, a pasture, or in a honey production capacity, White Clover should prove to be a great addition to your land.
If you’ve got any questions about how you might be able to utilise White Clover, contact the friendly team at McKays.