Interseeding annual legumes into bermudagrass pastures showed good economic potential in a first-year trial at The Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK.

The scientists no-till drilled a mixture of winter-annual legumes (hairy vetch, crimson clover and arrowleaf clover) into dormant bermudagrass in October and compared forage availability and stocker-cattle performance with those from an interseeded grazing-type alfalfa and bermudagrass-only fertilized with nitrogen. The research was done in nine 3.5-acre paddocks continuously stocked with 450-lb steers.

The nitrogen fertilizer system supported 84 grazing days compared with 66 grazing days for the annual legumes and 56 for alfalfa. Average daily gain and gain per acre were similar among the systems. The annual legumes provided the highest forage availability in April and May, while nitrogen fertilization offered the most forage in June and July.

Per-acre net returns were $118, $92 and $44, respectively, for the nitrogen fertilizer, annual legume and alfalfa systems. However, the researchers point out that poor establishment limited forage availability, grazing days and net returns within the alfalfa system.