Using Clover in Sustainable Agriculture

Many of us have begun to realize that mono-cropping and other conventional farming practices are not only degrading the landscape but lack practicality.  So as a solution, we have to turn to the natural processes going on around us.

One of these solutions is to balance out the landscape with a diversity of plant species, each with its own function.  Since it is almost Saint Patrick’s Day, I wanted to focus on what clovers can do for the earth and how it may benefit your growing area.

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One of the main reasons people are adding clover to their landscapes is its use as a nitrogen fixating species.  This means clover will convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil.  Nitrogen is the most abundant element in our atmosphere and it is the most common element depleted in the soil.  Clover will replenish one of the most important parts of the dirt and allow future crops to grow vigorously.

Clover also benefits the land by regulating soil temperature.  This reduces water loss from evaporation and reduces drastic temperature fluctuations that harm plants. The insolating effect that a nice layer of ground covering clover has on the soil can extend the growing season and increase the amount of food you can produce.

Farmers and gardeners plant clover in between rows, during winter and on edges of growing areas to take advantage of clover’s soil building affects.  You can let your animals eat the clover for a boost of nutrients.  Even apartment gardeners can take advantage of clover by planting in the empty spaces of a planter.

Adding clover to your growing area can be another great species in your repertoire of biodiversity.  Each little step we take towards re-building our ecosystems will benefit both us and the Earth we live on.

Here is a great list of other nitrogen fixating species:

http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/plants-nitrogen-fixers.html

Photos: Robert Couse-Baker, Kathleen Tyler Conklin

PrintBy Jake Frazier

Jake Frazier is an outdoor enthusiast and the owner of Residential Ecology, a sustainable ecological resource management company. He uses existing natural systems to improve the quality of life for both humans and the Earth. Jake is interested in permaculture, living systems and exploring. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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