There are over 200 known varieties of Alfalfa, but only 6-8 are used commercially at a great scale. Generally, different alfalfa varieties perform differently in various growing regions. We have to make a research on which variety is most used in our region for our intended use. Although alfalfa plants have great adaptability in various weather conditions, we have to check that there are cases of good yields of a potential variety in our region, before making a decision.
The preparation for the cultivation of alfalfa starts during the summer of the previous year. Most farmers start by fixing soil pH close to 6,5. Many farmers add lime (through deep tillage) at a quantity of 3-4 tons per hectare (ask a licensed agronomist in your area). Lime is believed to increase the activity of nitrogen-fixing Rhizobium bacteria, while functioning as a soil conditioner. Some farmers also add 2-3 tons of manure per hectare and they plow deeply close to the day of seeding. (Keep in mind that 1 ton = 1000 kg = 2.200 lbs. and 1 hectare = 2,47 acres = 10.000 square meters). We have to take into consideration the soil condition of our field through annual soil testing, before applying any nutrition or tillage method. Generally, when growing Medicago sativa, the last tillage usually takes place just the day before the day of sowing.
Although alfalfa is a well-adapted plant that usually gives good production for many years, it can be severely affected by weeds. Weeds compete with alfalfa plants in water and nutrient, resulting in thin and underperforming plants. We may have to consult local farmers and/or agronomists in order to get the latest information on the weeds most commonly found in our region. Then we have to plan a solid (pre and after sowing) weed management policy, taking into account the local legal framework and the agronomist’s suggestion. Some chemicals widely used in some countries are strictly forbidden in other countries.
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4.) Alfalfa Soil Requirements – Variety Selection – Weed Management
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