Alfalfa Cover Crop
Alfalfa is a cool-season perennial commonly grown as cover crop and soil conditioner. It is highly nutritious and a natural source of nitrogen. It’s ideal for improving the soil and providing erosion control.
Alfalfa Cover Crop History
Alfalfa is a cool-season perennial commonly grown as cover crop and soil conditioner. It is highly nutritious and a natural source of nitrogen. It’s ideal for improving the soil and providing erosion control. Alfalfa’s extensive root system nourishes both plants and soil. The alfalfa plant has been cultivated for generations and growing alfalfa in your garden is easy.
How To Grow Alfalfa
Easily grown and propagated, alfalfa adapts well to nearly any garden, tolerating a wide range of growing conditions. It makes a good drought-resistant plant too, as it doesn’t like wet feet. In fact, too much moisture can lead to mold growth. When growing alfalfa, choose an area with plenty of full sun. Also look for a well-draining area with a soil pH level between 6.8 and 7.5. Prior to planting, you should clean the area, work the soil, and remove any debris.
Those living in cooler climates can plant alfalfa in spring while milder regions should opt for fall planting. Since alfalfa roots quickly, it doesn’t require deep planting—only about a half inch deep. Merely sprinkle the seeds evenly onto the soil and cover lightly with dirt. Use about ¼ pound of seeds per 25 square feet and space rows about 18-24 inches.
When To Harvest Alfalfa
If you are planting alfalfa for livestock, it will need to be harvested and cured prior to flowering (known as early-bloom stage). It becomes more difficult for these animals to digest once the plant matures. Do not cut alfalfa if rain is imminent, as this can damage the crop. Rainy weather can lead to issues with mold. Quality alfalfa hay should possess good green color and leafiness as well as a pleasant aroma and thin, pliable stems. Alfalfa has few pest problems; however, the alfalfa weevil can cause serious damage. In addition, the stem nematode can infest and weaken stem buds.
What Is The Purpose Of A Cover Crop?
A cover crop slows the velocity of runoff from rainfall and snowmelt, reducing soil loss due to sheet and rill erosion. Over time, a cover crop regimen will increase soil organic matter, leading to improvements in soil structure, stability, and increased moisture and nutrient holding capacity for plant growth.
Alfalfa Cover Crop Uses
Alfalfa provides the most protein-per-acre, reduces soil erosion and improves soil structure, moisture-holding capacity and nutrient content. It also increases beneficial soil biota, suppresses weeds, provides habitat for beneficial predatory insects and wildlife and facilitates crop pollinators
Other Alfalfa Varieties Worth Checking Out
Alfalfa Sprouts contain the following: Vitamins A, B, C, E, K, and minerals. These vitamins are essential for healthy reproduction, vision, immune function, healthy bones, and regulating bodily functions.