Planting Kura Clover Reduces Fertilizer Needs of Biofuel Crop

Planting a legume such as Kura clover in conjunction with a biofuel crop like prairie cordgrass improves soil microbial activity and reduces the amount of fertilizer needed, according to a 10-year study from South Dakota State University. It takes time for the clover to begin providing visible benefits, however. Study leader Vance Owens explains, “It took until the fourth year before we saw any direct benefit in terms of yield in the prairie cordgrass plots mixed with Kura clover, but by then, the nitrogen benefit from the Kura clover ranged from 20 to 80 pounds per acre across the four locations.” Related research showed that the cordgrass-and-clover stands also had higher levels of microbial community structure with more total bacterial and fungal biomass than control plots. The researchers concluded that interseeded legumes have potential for helping produce biofuels crops more sustainably, as well as improving overall soil health.