Dwarf white clover supports pollinators, augments nitrogen in clover–turfgrass lawns, and suppresses root-feeding grubs in monoculture but not in mixed swards

Daniel A. Potter, Carl T. Redmond, Timothy D. McNamara, Gregg C. Munshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The runoff or leaching of nitrogen fertilizers from monoculture turfgrass lawns contributes to water pollution, and such lawns are susceptible to insect pests and provide few resources for pollinators. One approach to creating more sustainable lawns is to incorporate white clover (Trifolium repens L.), a nitrogen-fixing legume, into grass seed mixtures or existing turfgrass swards. “Dutch” white clover (DWC), a ubiquitous landrace, forms non-uniform clumps when intermixed with turfgrasses, thus it is often considered to be a lawn weed. Recently, several dwarf varieties of white clover have been selected for their small leaf size and low growth habit, allowing them to tolerate low mowing heights and blend better with grasses. To date, there have been no studies published on the entomological aspects of dwarf clover in pure stands or intermixed with turfgrass. We established field plots with combinations of DWC, two cultivars of dwarf clover, and tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort.) in monoculture or mixed swards, and compared the invertebrate communities therein. Predatory arthropods and earthworm numbers were similar in all plot types. The clover monocultures were resistant to white grubs, but the grub densities in the clover–tall fescue dicultures were similar to those found in the pure tall fescue swards. Dwarf clovers and DWC were similarly attractive to bees and supported similar bee assemblages. The tall fescue foliar N content was elevated 17–27% in the dicultures with clovers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11801
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume13
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords

  • Low-input lawns
  • Pollinators
  • Popillia japonica
  • Schedonorus arundinaceus
  • Trifolium repens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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