are clovers and lucerne weeds?

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are clovers and lucerne weeds?

Post by jenni » Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:47 pm

hi there this is my first post. I have just read the two books. Wow. I feel so happy like i've just been let in on a huge secret. I am currently experiencing a new sense of joy when i think of the work i have in front of me repairing our farm. This is replacing feelings of dread and anxiety about problems i thought were outside my capabilities to overcome. So thankyou. My first of many questions is: varieties of clover do well in our acid soils. I have a sloping paddock with a fantastic strike of clover and the winter rye grass is receding.i an happy to have the clover but is this a sign of declining fertility?peter talks about grass species being what comes in when fertility improves. Also if weeds are defined as having broad leaves and tap roots. Is lucerne-aside from being a legume- a weed in a sense that it can be used to improve fertility and encourage grasses. I am seeing a lot of good looking native grasses starting to develope in what i was told was a very poor establishment of lucerne. I was told to spray it out and start again but i didn't have the money so i've been slashing it just before the winter spring weeds seed instead.

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Post by gavinfialkowski » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:17 am

Hi Jenni, Im no expert, others please feel free to correct me but I'd like to try and help anyway:

My basic understanding is that if you are trying to revive a paddock then any vegetation that grows is good, nature will take care of itself, no need for spraying anything out. You can then speed this process up by altering the water flow across the land as described in Peter's books - a more natural way for the Australian environment - and of course mulching the plant material at the right time of year. If you want to speed it up even further you can bring in more mulch and manure perhaps.

Back to the weeds - the only thing I know about clover is that the cattle love it so we encourage it, lucerne is like a weed (with tap root) but wont be of any benefit if you harvest it (need to mulch it to add nutrients into the soil)

hope ive helped in some way - Gavin

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Post by duane » Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:51 pm

Welcome Jenni to the NSF forum.

Its great to have you on board and better still to share your farming experiences with us. Its all about shared learning here.

Sounds like you are making good progress though and saving yourself some $$ by not spraying.

Look this argument about weeds is really a total nonsense.

We have all got ourselves in such a bind over the overuse of one word in the english language--WEEDS.

Weeds are not a family of plants; they are not a genus, a phyla or anything else. They are simply PLANTS. Why dont we just call them that.

In Australia, since settlement we have lost 95% of the original plant biodiversity----95%!!!

We farm foreign animals, using foreign plants, clovers, rye grasses etc etc etc and we get upset when a thistle or a dandelion arrives.

Every plant and animal that was not here prior to 1788 is a 'weed' if you want to be purist about it.

We have changed this landscape can NEVER go back to what it was in 1788.NEVER. It can only go forward.

So to answer your question from my perspective the clover/lucerne ARE edible 'weeds' but more importantly they are solar PLANT factorys bringing minerals and carbon to your topsoil.

You did yourself a great favour by not spraying out the lucerne. Use it to slash and mulch and you will recycle those minerals and carbon and rebuild your fertility very quickly.

All plants when they are green and growing are performing a service that Nature designed them for...that I think is the key to better farm management. Always encourage biodiversity....and remember DO NOT SPRAY TO KILL A SINGLE PLANT simply RECYCLE THEM AS MULCH.

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Post by jenni » Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:45 am

hi thanks for your speedy replys and your welcome.i'm really excited about joining this forum.i think i readily understand the concept of the importance of green surface area no matter what that plant maybe. it is my understanding at this point please let me know if i am or are not correct- that the prevelance of the clover over the rye is a stage in a sequence, and if managed correctly, should move toward the return of perrenial grass species,at present we have a scattering of red grass,wheat grass, plus phalaris, paspalen and coxfoot for example. i am planning on direct seeding a light rating of oats dry in to the mostly dormant paddock with no super or chems, for the purpose of managed grazing.

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Post by duane » Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:00 pm


Once your raise OM in your soil (it needs to be continous) and reinstate the hydrology, many of the native grasses and plants will return (the seed will be dormant in the soil).

Much of the flat country will in the past have had a HIGH water table such that it was like a soil at full Field Capacity. It was as Haikai Tane described a stepped diffusion system of broad acre hydroponics.

Once you realise that we had a natural system of hydroponics supplying our plants with constant water and fertility, you realise that we had a hugely productive natural system.

So remember the three key landscape components: surface area/biodiversity cover at all times
2.the hydrology links all the biodiversity/ raise or increase
the natural fresh water tabletable
3.the daily water cycle/a full planting cover will trap moisture and allow it to recondense as dew meaning the plants will not need to take water from the soil but will be able to recycle the transpired water.

When you get these things reinstated Nature will do the only need to observe the natural cycles and the sequences.

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Post by duane » Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:21 pm

Jenni the following is an extract taken from Peter's new book Beyond the Brink courtesy of ABC Books, Chapter 4 p41, 2008.
It gives a clear picture of the role of plants to restore fertility.
Almost a decade into the twenty-first century, people are still locked into
the old idea that weeds are bad and have to got rid of.
The truth is weeds are the key to a landscape’s fertility. There
is a natural balance between grass and weeds. Grass consumes
fertility. Weeds accumulate fertility. Weeds are the great carbon
manufacturers of the landscape. They grow rapidly and produce
a large bulk of organic matter, both above and below the surface.
This is especially true of thistles. Moreover, because they are
weeds and generally are not eaten, 100 per cent of the large
quantity of organic matter they produce is recycled in the soil
and so enhances fertility — provided, of course, that the farmer
has not killed them before they have a chance to grow.
Weeds are repair plants: their job is to restore degraded land
to good health. A natural cycle exists in nature governing the
relationship between weeds and grass. The key to this relationship
is that grass grows well only in fertile soil whereas
weeds not only grow well in poor soil but, by growing there, are
able to turn the poor soil into good soil. So if land is degraded,
weeds will grow there in profusion but grass will struggle. After
a time, as the weeds feed the soil with more and more organic
material, the fertility will rise to a point where the grass starts to
grow vigorously. Now it is a fact (the matter is discussed
elsewhere in this book) that, in good soil, grass will always outcompete
weeds, one reason being that grass can steal sugars from
the roots of the weeds. So when the grass starts to flourish,
thanks to the extra fertility generated by the weeds, the weeds
will begin to recede. This hardly seems fair to the weeds after all
their productive work, but that is how the cycle works out.
Clearly, weeds have a specific, beneficial role to play in the
landscape. They are not harmful plants that a farmer must get rid
of in order to maintain productivity. Nor are they merely useless
and expendable plants to get rid of simply because the farmer
does not like the look of them. Take the weeds out of a paddock,
whether by spraying them or ploughing them, and you will have
done serious harm to the health of that paddock.

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Post by jenni » Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:39 am

hi there thanks for your replys.just wanted to run an idea past the forum any comments greatly appreciated. we have a paddock on a creek flat( not on the creek itself) that has been a very good cropping paddock in that after several years of chemical treatment practically nothing grows. the weed burden is very low. in summer we have a few summer weeds even then pretty low amounts. our goal now is to create continuous groundcover and we like very much the idea of pasture cropping.what does the forum think of undersowing a light rate say 1 kg/ha lucerne plus clover with the 30kg/ha of iether oats (grazing) or wheat (non grazing)- not sure which would be better yet.if i don't put in a summer perrenial there will be very little there after december. my thinking is that the light rate of lucerne will allow any remnant native or any other species a chance to compete in the future also room for us to direct drill species in the this sound? any better ideas? keeping in mind our budget is VERY low.

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