Reviving Old Herbage - The Secret to Great Meat?
I believe that grazing fields rich in varieties of old herbage makes a huge contribution to the flavor of our meat.
I’ve spent much time reviving old herbage by re-introducing a wide range of grasses and clovers to the land.
Clover grown in forage leys offers a natural alternative to modern day fertilizers and provides a home-grown source of protein. Clover plants are able to extract nitrogen from the air, (which itself is three quarters nitrogen) passing it into the soil via bacteria nodules on the plants roots. Red and white clovers are the two key plants which naturally produce nitrogen. When at high proportions in grass leys they can provide 40-90kg of usable nitrogen per acre per year. Farmers adding modern fertilizers would typically use 150kg per acre per year to achieve any worthwhile yield. Clover plants are also high in protein and therefore can reduce the need for bought in feed. When sown with grass, clover increases the protein content of forage by around 20%.
How I introduce the new seeds.
The method is harrowing the field until there is dust, but not too much as you do not want to take out the old herbage and then broadcasting the new seeds.
The key is making sure there is rain due, giving your seeds the best possible chance.
In two weeks’ time, graze with sheep until bare and then leave without stock so your new seeds will have less competition.
Food for Thought.
I believe that conventional farmers have been encouraged to use nitrogen fertilizer but it's a little like eating fast food, it works well for an hour and then you’re left feeling hungry.
Adding Nitrogen fertilizer boosts grass, but it redirects the roots up to the surface and then the roots wait for more.
When we farm organically using herbage like Clovers, the roots naturally go down through the soils accessing the minerals and nutrients that they need.