Under natural conditions clover (genus Trifolium) is spread out in the most regions of the world with temperate and subtropical climate, with the exception of Southeast Asia and Australia. The cultivated clover species have naturalized and have been used successfully in temperate regions around the world.
Clover is very useful as feed for livestock animals, as it is rich in protein, phosphorus and calcium. It provides good nutrition in both the green and dry phases. Its flowers are very attractive to bees, and clover honey is a common product of beekeeping.
In addition to its main value, as a food for animals in the form of haylage pasture and silage, clover is a valuable improving and preserving soil prior plant (predecessor). Clover adds up to 170 kg per hectare of nitrogen to the soil and increases the availability of other nutrients for subsequent crops.
Red clover (Trifolium pratense L. sensu lato) grows well on many types of soil exept for very light, acidic or marshy soils.
It has a deep penetrating root system that makes red clover drought-resistant. Red clover is an important component of the clover-herbal mixture for one- and two-year hayfields (for haylage).
Red clover is widely cultivated in many countries with a temperate climate and tolerates low temperatures well in the winter period.
Tetraploid varieties are more viable and leafy.
White clover (creeping trefoil)
White clover (Trifolium repens L.) grows well on soils with good water holding capacity. On sandy soils it is also possible to get high yields with sufficient rainfall or watering. White clover is more resistant than red clover. It forms a lot of new shoots, and it is winter hardy.
On pastures, white clover significantly improves the taste of grass mass and its consumption by cattle. Digestibility of white clover, including flowers, is very high.
Small-leaved varieties are particularly suitable for grazing, while large-leaf species can also be used for haylage.
Alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum L.) has the same growth characteristics as red and white clover. It grows well in acidic and marshy soils. Hybrid varieties of clover are used in grass mixtures for growing on these types of soil in temperate climates. The common life span of hybrid clover is 2–3 years.