Subterranean clover

This is more commonly known as Sub clover or Sub.

Subterranean clover is an annual legume that underpins most of south-eastern and south-western Australian broadacre agriculture. It is an amazing legume that buries its seed, hence the "subterranean" (it means underground), after flowering.

Its international or scientific name is Trifolium subterraneum and there are some other varieties called Trifolium yanninicum and Trifolium brachycalycinum.

Go to the home page: for more grazing & farming info you can walk out & use
Site conditions
No body represents this as:
free from omissions
free from errors
suitable for your use
nor as advice.
Your situation is different from anyone else's. Make informed decisions and if necessary get advice
Sub clover is a good example of most of the reasons why pasture legumes are special.

The sub part of the name refers to the fact that after the flowers are fertilized the seed stalk reaches down and into the ground. This allows it to bury the seed where it has the greatest chance of survival and germination. The varieties that do not bury their seed often find a convenient crack to drop it into in the cracking or self-mulching clays that they are adapted to.

The species evolved in the Mediterranean, western Europe and southern Britain and Ireland. It is an annual that dies off in late spring to early summer and as a result doesn't need to survive the hot dry summers of the Mediterranean climate throughout the growing area.

The excellent sub clover improvement programs based mainly in Western Australia have bred dozens of varieties of sub, all suited to different conditions through having such characteristics as:
Much improvement of native pastures in these areas has been based on "sub and super" - sub clover and superphosphate topdressed over the existing native grass-based pastures to add phosphorus, sulphur, nitrogen and enhanced digestibility.

This was a low-cost, highly effective way to improve pastures dramatically. It often trebled pasture production.

An organic farmer wanting to achieve similar results could use a suitable rock phosphate instead of the superphosphate. They would need to increase the application rate to as much as three times but would need to apply it less often, provided they maintained a high level of organic matter and biological activity in the soils.

Using rock phosphate requires local knowledge as well as a good understanding of the different processes involved in phosphate availability and how these processes operate in local soils and under local climatic conditions. You also need to have a reasonable understanding of the differences between superphosphate and the particular rock phosphate that you choose.

The availability of phosphate in the short-term is dependent on the amount of available phosphate applied. This applies to both superphosphate and rock phosphate.

However, with rock phosphate, the amount of phosphate available longer term is set by
This is why some specialist local advice will make it easier to get the best results with rock phosphate. And this applies whether you are

If you would like to contact us, please use this link.

If you are looking at a printed version of this page and you would like to visit it on the internet and get a stack of other info that may assist you, the full web address is

All material on this website is copyright 2007 Michael Burlace, The Organic Exchange Pty Ltd and others as shown. Material on this website may be downloaded and printed for your personal use only.

FarmRef and Organic Exchange are registered trademarks and Info you can walk out & use is a trademark of Michael Burlace.

This page was updated on December 27, 2007