Growing Quality Alfalfa and Other Forages

The impact of quality forages is far-reaching. Feed for livestock turns into food for people so what you feed your animals has a direct impact on their health and the health of people. An animal's health dictates the quality of their milk, and their meat.

 

alfalfa imageHealthy Livestock

Forages that are dense with nutrients and protein provide your livestock with the nutrition they need to build immunity to diseases and pests. When your livestock is disease- and pest-free, you save a lot of money in veterinary bills and medications. When your livestock is healthy, you reduce lost production due to sick animals.

 

Better Returns; Higher Profits

Healthy animals produce more and what they produce is of higher quality, so you win in three big ways:

 

1) Lower Cost of Supplements
2) Higher Production
3) Better Quality Milk and Meat

 

Improved Immunity to Disease

There are many forage diseases that affect the root, leaf, stem and crown of the plant. These diseases reduce yields, reduce forage quality, thin or destroy stands, decrease stand persistence, and increase susceptibility to winter kill, diseases and environmental stresses. Supplying proper fertilizer to your forage crop can help to reduce its susceptibility to diseases.

 

The Right Fertilizer

Agriculture Solutions offers a wide range of fertilizers and custom blends that are recommended based on soil and tissue analysis. Some of our most popular products for forage include AgriCal, Liquid Fish, and TrueBlend micro. Each animal has different nutrient needs, and fertilizer recommendations can be adjusted to address these specific requirements.

 

Sample Forage Program

 

  • In the fall or the spring, spray TrueBlend™ Soil Rejuvenator on the soil at a rate of 8 litres per acre. Our Soil Rejuvenator concentrated solutions should be diluted with clean, fresh water and can also be mixed with biological inoculants, if desired.

    Note: If you are planning to spray glyphosate for a burn-down, also plan on adding Agri-Gro® Ignite S2 to the tank at a rate of ½ litre per acre to stimulate microbial activity, and buffer the harmful effects this material can have on your soil's microbial life.

  • Treat your seed with a biological seed treatment that contains nutrients, a microbial inoculum, and biological stimulants just before planting.


    A seed treatment, such as Seed-Start™, will speed germination and fill the soil around your seeds with soluble, plant-available nutrients that will feed your tender, new seedlings. Microbes will begin digesting soil minerals, releasing them as food to your plants. Over the weeks that follow, nutrient release levels will increase exponentially as microbial populations increase until they reach levels that can build plant health and sustain your forage through even its most demanding stages of growth. Adding beneficial microbes such as Nutri-Life Platform™ or Nutri-Life 4/20™ will heighten microbial activity even more, building even more strength and productivity into your crop.
  • Plant with TrueBlend starter solution at a rate of 8 - 12 litres per acre mixed with enough water to make a planting rate of 20 litres per acre of total solution. Please note that your application rate will vary depending on results of a soil analysis.


    Top quality alfalfa is rarely produced with a single fertilizer application per year. Fertilizer should be split-applied into two applications, usually applied after the first and third cuttings. More frequent applications may be beneficial depending on soil temperature, compaction, and oxygen levels. Low temperature, high compaction and low oxygen can all hinder a plant's ability to get adequate nutrients, especially phosphorus.

 

  • Apply a custom foliar solution 7-10 days after cutting based on soil and tissue analysis. Common foliar sprays may include Calcium, Sulfur, Boron, and other nutrients. Mix with enough water to spray 80 - 100 litres of solution per acre.


    Forages have a high nutrient demand, yet many producers neglect to address this demand with a proper nutrition program. The addition of plant nutrients and soil amendments can produce returns of 2-3 times that of the initial investment in land and crop establishment. Not only can you impact yield with proper nutrition, but you will also produce a higher quality forage with greater longevity of the stand.

    Note: A tissue analysis conducted prior to cutting will allow you to resolve specific nutrient deficiencies and achieve nutrient balance in your crop.
  • Crops grown on our program typically have better nutrient content, higher sugar levels and better fermentation. This results in healthier animals with greater production and weight gain.

    Many forages harvested today have high levels of potassium, but low levels of calcium and micro-nutrients. High potassium levels can cause general metabolic issues in livestock and digestive conditions such as acidosis. Lack of adequate micro-nutrients inhibits the formation of complete proteins causing high nitrate levels in forages. Nitrates inhibit the optimal function of blood-cleansing organs like the liver and the kidneys which, in turn, causes high white blood cell counts and low immunity.