If you want to grow alfalfa, it’s important to know how much seed you need for your acreage. According to the University of Vermont, if you’re planting alfalfa on a new field, you should plant three and a half to six pounds of seed per acre. If you’re overseeding an existing field with alfalfa, you only need two and a half to five and a half pounds per acre.
Alfalfa is a perennial, forage crop that grows in all types of soil. It’s a great source of nutrition for livestock and it can be used to create other products such as hay and silage. Alfalfa needs the proper amount of seed per acre in order to grow effectively and meet the needs of your farm or business.
Uses Of Alfalfa
Alfalfa (scientifically called Medicago sativa) or Lucerne is the most important forage crop in the world. Alfalfa means “father of all foods” in Arabic. It is cultivated in more than 70 countries, due to its great adaptability and its multiple uses. It can be used for grazing of horses, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and dairy cows. It can also be used as hay, silage, green manure and as a cover crop. Alfalfa can also be eaten by humans (the sprouts –not the seeds). It contains high levels of many essential vitamins, such as A, B, D, E, K and it is rich in minerals.
It has been proposed that alfalfa has many human medicinal properties that help against arthritis, urinary tract infections, kidney, bladder and prostate disorders. It is also used for the lowering of cholesterol and as a dietary supplement. Alfalfa can be consumed as a tablet or capsule, consumed in a tea or eaten as a leaf. The FDA has advised that children, the elderly and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid consuming raw alfalfa sprouts. Many people consume alfalfa tablets and capsules as a dietary supplement.
Some researchers support that alfalfa is indeed the most important crop in the world, although most of alfalfa production is not directly consumed by humans, as wheat and barley. If alfalfa did not exist, the global Meat and Dairy industry (among others) would be different, probably considerably smaller or less efficient.
Selection of Field for Alfalfa Seed Production
The most important factor in field selection is the weed spectrum present. Good recommendations for perennial weed control in established alfalfa seed fields are not presently available. Consequently, it is important to eliminate perennial weed problems before seeding down to alfalfa. Sweet clover is considered a weed in these circumstances. It is advisable to avoid fields with a history of sweet clover to control the problem of carry-over seed in the soil.
The importance of starting alfalfa seed production on a clean field, requires field management practices to start two years earlier. Certified production requires using land that has not grown alfalfa two years prior to seed down. Begin by assessing the weed spectrum and initiating an appropriate weed control program. Do not plant rapeseed the two years prior to alfalfa establishment to avoid the problem of volunteer rapeseed. Cereals are the preferred crops to grow at this time as they allow the broadest range of weed control. If perennial grasses, such as quack grass, are present consider a fall application of Roundup or an equivalent.
Although alfalfa is adapted to a wide range of soil conditions, best results are achieved when using deep, medium textured, well drained soils. Avoid poorly drained or saline soils. For certified production ensure neighbouring fields pose no hazard. Keep other alfalfa at least 165 feet (50 metres) from the seed field. A field sheltered from the wind benefits the bees, increasing the chances for pollination in the field. Keep in mind the difficulties of maintaining isolation posed by removing stray alfalfa plants from bush areas. Another requirement for good establishment is a well worked seedbed. Summerfallow the year prior to establishment is advisable.
In conclusion, The amount of alfalfa seed you use per acre is largely determined by your planting method. If you’re overseeding an existing stand, you’ll want to use 25-35 pounds per acre. If you’re direct drilling, you’ll want to use 35-45 pounds per acre. In general, the more seed you plant, the better your chances of success—allowing for a margin of error in case some seeds don’t make it to germination. However, if you are on the higher end of recommended seeding rates and are still not getting uniform stands, it’s possible that your soil may be lacking in nutrients, or that there’s too much disturbance from heavy traffic during planting or harvesting.