12th of February 2015 – Ian Wilkinson and Cotswold Seeds


Another day on the road to meet Ian Wilkinson of Cotswold Seeds in Moreton in Marsh. I have heard Ian speak at various conferences and have bought seed of him in the past. His knowledge and experience with clovers, legumes, ley mixtures and various plant growth habits made me want to meet him and pick his brain! So I spent a few hours chatting to Ian and his colleague Sam about all things plants and soils.

There were a few points that stood out for me from this meeting:

  • continuous Yellow Trefoil sown with spring cereals can be done and was done in Kent years ago (not much new in agriculture)
  • if you rotate clover species you will avoid clover sickness and it is specific to species
  • most clover seed production is abroad
  • oats and vetch could be a good mixture with both going to animal feed
  • yellow trefoil can be sown under beans
  • sweet clover could be a good understorey in cereals but could become very aggressive in second year
  • Main problem of undersowing is the variability from year to year
  • the best way to improve soil is a perennial mixed ley

This is probably just a snapshot of Ian’s knowledge and hopefully I will be able to tap into it in the future.

On the way out I had a look at their mixing plant and warehouse.


This his is one of the seed mixers and it is loaded all by hand and is not automated as each order is mixed individually which needs care.

I would like to thank everyone at Cotswold seeds for an interesting day and for lunch.

4 thoughts on “12th of February 2015 – Ian Wilkinson and Cotswold Seeds

  1. Andrew Barr February 18, 2015 / 7:41 am

    good work with the blog Andy. Was the yellow trefoil left permanently and spring cereals planted into it it was the yt resown every time?


    • Andy Howard February 18, 2015 / 9:38 pm

      I think it was left every year. Ask you dad he may well remember the work. I think it was on Romney marsh


  2. John Pawsey February 18, 2015 / 7:58 am

    Hi Andy. Great article, Ian Wilkinson is a top man. My only comment is that we have had a problem with yellow trefoil being eaten by weevil when undersign in beans so we have avoided it in recent years.

    I would also agree that the main problem with under sowing is variability. My feeling is that in our case in the east we can be very dry when trying to scratch in clover mixes and I don’t think that we have always got enough soil around the seed. Also, if the under-sown crop’s growth stage is beyond GS31 if is iffy wether you roll or not. We have also had a problem with slugs and/or weevil eating small growing under/sown plants especially a problem in drought stress situations. I did see a new seed drill in Sweden last year with can drill in-between the rows of your crop with a press wheel after it to push the seed in. http://www.gothiaredskap.se/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=39&Itemid=878&lang=en When I visited Sweden I did not see a failed under-sown crop of clover with this system but did see failed attempts with a harrow comb and seed box which is the system we currently use.

    The only issue you should be aware of with sweet clover is that if you allow it to be harvested with the crop there can be issues with taint which can be a problem if growing a crop for human consumption.

    Best wishes

    John Pawsey


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