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Alfalfa crop

Alfalfa is one of the most reliable sources of forage for producers, with the ability to withstand challenging growing conditions and come back for more the following year. From seeding irrigated acres as an intensively managed forage crop to improving the grazing production of a dryland pasture, there is a variety of alfalfa that will fit your needs.

We carry Enduro Plus, WL, Genuity RR (also a low cost Cisco brand). We can help you to determined which ones will work best for your production goals, while we constantly strive to bring more top choices to expand our lineup.

Cereal Rye

Alfalfa

Feeding livestock is something we take very seriously at Martin Seed. Whether you are just taking care of the family “pets” or feeding out a herd. You want someone who has years of local knowledge to help you choose what works on your pasture or hay production acres.

Alfalfa crops can be harvested as hay or silage which is processed or fed directly to animals. Large quantities of dehydrated alfalfa are also used in manufacturing concentrated feeds for poultry and livestock. Alfalfa can be grown by itself or in combination with grasses in improved pastures. It is grazed by all types of domestic livestock. Caution should be taken when using alfalfa for grazing due to its potential bloat hazard. Even though some of these animals are not native to our Indiana/Illinois area, alfalfa is also an excellent wildlife food for antelope, deer, elk, Canada geese, sage grouse and sharp tail grouse. It is fair food for sandhill cranes, mallards, hungarian partridge, and pheasants.

BENEFITS OF ALFALFA

Alfalfa is one of the oldest foraging livestock crops cultivated, having been domesticated throughout most of the world for more than 2,000 years. Like other cover crop legumes, non-GMO heirloom alfalfa is popularly grown for its ability to repair damaged soils, prepare uncultivated spaces, loosen soil, minimize weeds, and convert nitrogen from the atmosphere back into the soil. Annual alfalfa is foremost grown foraging crop used to sustain commercial dairy cows, steer, horses, goats, sheep, and rabbits for its boosted protein content, digestible fibers, and reliable yields.

BLENDED WITH FIELD GRASS SPECIES

We’ve put together a list of the most commonly used cool season grasses. If you have precise goals for an area, we can build a customized blend to meet those requirements. From choosing a drought tolerant species to pair with alfalfa or designing a twenty species grass and legume pasture mix, Martin Seed is ready to blend your seed.

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CONCEPT OF NURSE CROPS FOR NEW ALFALFA SEEDING

A nurse crop is an annual crop used to assist in establishment of a perennial crop. The widest use of nurse crops is in the establishment of legumaceous plants such as alfalfa, clover, and trefoil. Occasionally nurse crops are used for establishment of perennial grasses.

Nurse crops reduce the incidence of weeds, prevent erosion, and prevent excessive sunlight from reaching tender seedlings. Often the nurse crop can be harvested for grain, straw, hay, or pasture. Oats are the most common nurse crop, though other annual grains like spring barley, triticale, peas or summer millet are also. Nurse cropping of tall or dense-canopied plants, may protect more vulnerable species through shading or by providing a wind break.

Depending on the situation nurse crops should be considered carefully. Some people don’t like the idea of nurse crop since the typical cereal grain used for the purpose may act more like a weed, taking up water and nutrients needed by the more important perennial forage crop. On the other hand, when soil erosion is a serious threat, a nurse crop can save the day.

Here are a few pros and cons to including a nurse crop with your new alfalfa seeding.

Advantages

  • Nurse crops provide erosion control where needed.
  • Nurse crops can help with weed suppression.
  • Roundup-ready alfalfa provides easier control of nurse crops at early stage of growth.
  • Nurse crops can provide extra forage or grain during the establishment year for a perennial forage.

Disadvantages

  • Alfalfa or mixed hay harvest usually begins sooner without nurse crops.
  • Nurse crops use water, nutrients and sunlight otherwise available to the perennial forage crop.
  • Nurse crops generally reduce first-year perennial forage crop yield and may result in thinner stands.
  • Excessive nurse crop seeding rates add to seeding cost.

Generally, nurse crops should be used only when needed. Otherwise, clear seeding of alfalfa or mixed hay is likely to be more efficient in the long run. Waiting to harvest grain from a nurse crop can result in significant reduction of stand in the alfalfa or other perennial hay seedings. Consider the comparable value of oat grain from a thin, nurse crop seeding compared to the value of a good stand of multi-year alfalfa or mixed hay forage established without a nurse crop.

Alfalfa/Forage & Hay Support
+1 765 986 2030