1. Home
  2. Agripedia

Alfalfa Plant and its Usage

What is alfalfa, and what are its uses? How can we grow alfalfa?

Swati Sharma
Alfalfa plant
Alfalfa plant

Alfalfa is an incredible plant commonly grown for feeding livestock or a cover crop and soil conditioner. It is highly nutritious and a natural source of nitrogen. It is 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. 

Alfalfa Uses 

Alfalfa leaves are edible and can be consumed as a leafy vegetable. It is used primarily as fodder for animals and is cut and stored as hay or silage. As a legume, the plant fixes nitrogen so it can be used to increase nitrogen in the soil and is a commonly used cover crop. 

Alfalfa Propagation 

Basic requirement - alfalfa is adapted to grow in various environments, but it requires careful management. It grows best in deep, fertile, well-draining soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Alfalfa has a deep and vigorous root system and quickly depletes nutrients from the ground. It grows in soil that is poor in nutrients; the crop may require the addition of ample amounts of fertilizer. The vigorous root system means that alfalfa can tolerate dry periods and still give a good yield. It should well prepare seeding soil before plant alfalfa seeds.  

A firm seedbed recommends improving the growth by improving seed contact with the soil. This helps seeds retain moisture and prevents new roots from drying out. It can firm the soil before planting by using a roller. The seedbed should also be free of weeds and kept moist. It should sow Alfalfa fields 5 cm (2 inches) deep in rows spaced 45 to 60 cm (18 to 24 inches) apart. Seeds should be water immediately, and the bed kept moist while the seedlings come out.  

General care and maintenance 

The alfalfa stand should be kept free from weeds. The easiest way to achieve a weed-free crop when grown on a commercial scale is using a pre-plant herbicide.  

There are several products available for use on alfalfa. You should apply fertilizer following soil test results. Lime, phosphorus, and potash are the essential nutrients for a healthy alfalfa stand. Alfalfa is harvested at different times depending on its intended use. Alfalfa which is cut between the late bud and early bloom stage gives acceptable yields of high-quality feed without reducing the quality of the stand. In contrast, the repeated harvest of alfalfa which is still in the vegetative stage of growth leads to a reduced perspective.  

In the first year, the plant can be harvested two times without any harmful effect on winter survival, once in summer before the flowers emerging. Later in the year, with the date depending on location, Alfalfa is harvested by combine & baled as hay or cut for direct feeding to animals. 

International No Diet Day 2024 Quiz Take a quiz
Share your comments
FactCheck in Agriculture Project

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters