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  • Soil texture
    crop soil texture
    medium to heavy soils
  • Min. temperature
    crop temperature icon
    2 – 3 °C
  • pH
    Fodder Grass crop pH value
    5 - 8
  • Water demand
    Fodder Grass crop rainfall value
    600 – 2000 mm, good distribution important
  • Vernalisation
    Fodder Grass crop vernalisation
  • Plant density
    crop density
    25 – 35 kg/ha for new plantings
  • Seeding Depth
    crop seeding depth
    0.5 - 1 cm
Fodder Grass
Forage is the cultivation of clover, different grasses.  The most common mixture is with grasses with legumes such as clover (clover-grass), or lucerne. It is used as fodder for one or multiple years. The clover-grass mixtures have a better energy/protein ratio, this is because grass or clover if used for silage and their yields are more reliable. However, cultivated clover/grass mixtures are seldom used for biogas production, instead maize is used but the energy/protein ration in forage remains important.
The integration of forage grasses into crop rotations is beneficial as it improves soil properties.
Key facts
  • High nutrient withdrawal due to high biomass production.
  • Phosphorus and potassium fertilization is based on offtake created by the harvest. 

  • Organic fertilization, biological nitrogen fixation, and organic matter provide significant amounts of nitrogen.

  • Sulphur increases the efficiency of nitrogen fertilization.

  • The withdrawal of calcium and magnesium has to be replaced through fertilization.

General Information
General Information
Nutrient demand
Nutrient demand
Good for the soil, good for the crop rotation

Next to biological nitrogen fixation by the legumes, the cultivation of forage has other positive effects on the soil, for example it is a superb crop for the suppression of weeds. In order to optimize the fixed nitrogen, the forage crop must be destroyed in spring in allowing the succeeding crop to access it. Weeds such as creeping thistle and black grass do not tolerate multiple cuts. Other weeds are reduced due to the permanent soil cover. The intensive root system improves the crumb structure of the soil, mobilizes nutrients and increases soil organic matter. 

The protein content of grasses is with 12 to 15% lower than that of legumes (25% protein in lucerne). The mixing ratio of grasses and legumes determines the protein content of the harvest. Legumes are more competitive during the warm summer months and increase their relative mass. Fertilization with nitrogen increases the competitiveness of grass and facilitates a stable grass/legumes ratio. 

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The fertilization demand is determined by the offtake created by harvest and composition of the crop. As legumes fix nitrogen from the air, they need a maximum of 30 to 40 kg N/ha to start growing and they supply N for the grasses to a certain extent. The mixture has to consist of a minimum of 70% legumes to supply the total N requirement. The biomass accumulation of grasses and corresponding nutrient export with the yields is high. Fertilization with nitrogen is essential for the cultivation of forage grasses.  A harvest of 15 t/ha (3 to 5 cuts) of Westerwold ryegrass removes 375 kg N per hectare and year. 
Demand and extraction quantities of forage grass (20% DM)



(Unit/t of production)


(Unit/t of production)

Sensitivity to deficiency




Very Sensitive








Very Sensitive




Moderately Sensitive


The table shows uptake and removal per tonne of forage grass (20% DM). A yield of 50 tonnes (3-4 cuts) removes 260 kg N, 80 kg P2O, 325 kg K2O per hectare. 

The mineral fertilization is based on offtake by the yields, supply of nutrients from the soil and percentage of legumes and organic fertilization. The timing, frequency of cuts and N-fertilization determine the protein content. The fertilized nitrogen is first converted to biomass (quantity) and only further N supply increases the protein content (quality). 

Nitrogen supplementation of organic fertilizers is necessary at higher use intensities (4 to 5 cuts). The first two cuts receive little more nitrogen then the later cuts. 

High yielding forage grass removes a lot of potassium (> 400 kg/ha K2O). The potassium supplied with organic sources of often not enough to balance the export.

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