Alfalfa/Lucerne is grown in most temperate regions of the world. It thrives very well on well-drained soils with a sufficient content of lime, potash and phosphate.
It has a deep tap root system and is thus able to withstand severe drought. It is a productive plant with high nutritional value.
It has an early spring growth and rapid regrowth after cutting.
Alfalfa can be conserved as hay but it is also possible to ensile the crop by mixing it with grasses, alternatively by drying it artificially and making it into pellets. Alfalfa is divided into dormancy rates that refer to autumn growth after the last cut.
A field composed of forage grasses and alfalfa provides more protein than a field of forage grass, maize silage or soybean. What is more, the deep rooting system helps farmers maintain or even increase feed production during dry seasons.
High-yielding farm animals that require high levels of protein perform better with alfalfa. Alfalfa contains 18 to 20% protein, compared with 14% for grasses and 9% for maize. Alfalfa also has a very high feed-conversion rate together with essential fibres and nutrients to improve digestion.
Finally, alfalfa is good for soils as it provides symbiotic N2 fixation. Nitrogen fixation gives high amounts of nitrogen to grass mixtures and improves the yield in subsequent crops by up to 5%. Altogether, alfalfa saves money, improves milk production and supports long-term sustainable farming.