Establishment and Early Yield Development of Five Possible Alternatives to Trifolium repens as a Grassland Legume

Kai Kuchenmeister, Frank Kuchenmeister, Nicole Wrage, Manfred Kayser, Johannes Isselstein


The performance of Trifolium repens as the main grassland legume in temperate climates may decrease under climate change due to more frequent water shortages. This calls for alternative legumes with agronomic potential. We examined germination rates, establishment, winter tolerance and yield potential of Medicago lupulina, Medicago falcata, Lotus corniculatus, Lotus uliginosus and Onobrychis viciifolia both in monoculture and in mixture with Lolium perenne in a two-year container experiment. Germination and establishment of all alternative legumes were comparable to T. repens except of M. falcata with a retarded initial development. L. uliginosus was the only species with an insufficient winter tolerance. In pure stands M. lupulina and L. corniculatus showed a yield potential almost as high as of T. repens. However, their performance in mixture with L. perenne was lower than T. repens. This has to be considered with the choice of less competitive grass partner species when designing seed mixtures.

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Journal of Agricultural Science   ISSN 1916-9752 (Print)   ISSN 1916-9760 (Online)  E-mail:

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