Aussie clover thrives in Ara farm trial

News News & events

31 Oct 2016

Trials of Australian subterranean clover could help farmers to be more sustainable and save money, says Ara Institute of Canterbury Agribusiness tutor David Mills.

David will be showing members of the agribusiness sector and general public around the trial at the Timaru Open Day on 3 November, when the Washdyke Campus will be open to the general public for the first time.  

The six month trial has shown five types of subterranean clover to be thriving in the Canterbury conditions. That’s good news for farmers because the clover is hardy and productive.

“Another local farmer is using it, but it is an unusual seed for New Zealand. We have already had agribusiness partners visiting us here to see the progress.”

“Indications from the trial are very promising. It is producing two to three times the volume of other pastures and it produces its own seed so you don’t have to keep replanting pastures. Most New Zealand pastures need 30% clover. We are trailing it with different companion plants to see which is the most effective.”

As well as producing more, and self-seeding, the Australian variety is proving more sustainable, as it uses less water resources.

“It is important for us to look at sustainable farming. Subterranean clover thrives in dry conditions so it needs less irrigation and no nitrogen at all. It fixes its own nitrogen.

Although naturally occurring, Nitrogen can be a problem for farming in Canterbury. High Nitrogen levels can be associated with nitrogen leaching into the soil, which can contaminate groundwater.

Sustainability is a core component of practical, farm-based training at Ara. Ara offers Certificates in Agriculture (Farming Systems or Vehicles, Machinery and Infrastructure), Primary Industry Skills and Primary Industry Production Management (Livestock Production), as well as the Diploma in Agribusiness Management.

The Ara Open Day is also an opportunity to explore the Timaru city campus, where visitors can talk to tutors, learn about the institute’s 150 career-focused study options across all the campuses, and check out updated facilities such as the library, student services area and hairdressing room.

The Ara Timaru Open Day is on 3 November, 2pm-5pm. For the Ara Timaru campus go to Arthur Street (G Block), Timaru. The Ara training farm is at 102 Racecourse Road, Washdyke. For further information, including a timetable of information sessions, see, email or phone 0800 24 24 76.