Assessing Alfalfa for Forage Quality
Sowing alfalfa by hand: rules and recommendations
It's hard to imagine a real rural backyard without livestock. Poultry, rabbits, nutria and especially cattle need quality nutritious food. It can be grown on its own plot by sowing perennial alfalfa. And beekeepers do not ignore the wonderful melliferous qualities of this plant. Ordinary gardeners successfully use the grass to control weeds and saturate the land with nitrogen, which is very useful for increasing the yield of the site.
Unpretentious alfalfa of the legume family can bring a rich harvest of green mass for 5-6 years for direct feeding and to provide animals with high-quality forage (hay) in winter.
The root system of alfalfa is able to penetrate into the soil to a depth of about 10 meters, contributing to improved air exchange and saturation of the soil with nitrogen, which is reproduced by nitrogen-producing nodule bacteria.
In order for sowing to give the desired results, it is imperative to complete some preparatory measures to improve germination and increase crop yields.
Preparing soil and seeds
- The site must be plowed deeply or dug manually if it is small. Moreover, the preparation must be performed immediately after harvesting in the fall, and in the spring, before sowing, it is enough just to fence the site.
- The soil needs to be fed with organic and mineral fertilizers and the calculation of 4-6 kg of manure and 40-50 grams of superphosphate mixed with potash fertilizers in a 2: 1 ratio.
- Thorough cleaning of the site from weeds is of no small importance for a good crop yield in the first year. This is especially true for the so-called coverless sowing, when the seeds are placed in the soil without additional cover crops that protect the seedlings from the attack of numerous weeds.
- The strong, dense shell of alfalfa seeds, typical of all legumes, prevents moisture penetration and the emergence of timely shoots. To solve the problem, you need a special scarifier or clover grater, which is unlikely to be available on a small backyard farm. It's easy to get out of the situation: grind the seeds with coarse river sand.
- Add 20 to 30% untreated seeds to scarified seeds. They will be able to compensate for possible loss of seedlings in the coming years.
- Some gardeners apply additional moisture to the seeds before sowing, but this technique is fraught with some danger. Already swollen, they can die if there is a lack of moisture in the soil.
How to sow alfalfa
In large farms, tractor seeders are used for this. In a small peasant farmstead, all manipulations are performed manually.
There are two methods for manual seeding.
- Method 1
Seeds are placed in the ground in rows prepared in advance, located at a distance of 15-20 cm from each other.
This approach is most often used when sowing crops under cover of spring cereals, when alfalfa is adjacent to a small amount of barley or oats.
For high-quality performance of work, manual seeders are used, planting seeds to a depth of 3 cm.
With a larger plowed area, it is advisable to use small-scale mechanization tools - various trailed or attachments to walk-behind tractors.
The method is often used for clean sowing of alfalfa However, in this case, the main danger lies in the abundant germination of weeds between the rows of the crop, which can drown out young immature seedlings.
- Method 2
It was widely used by our great-grandfathers and still gives excellent results without the use of any technique.
The tactics are simple. Prepared seeds, mixed with sand, dry sawdust or simply with the ground, are scattered with hands in a fan-like motion.
When picking seeds by hand, do not pay attention to their number.
Much more important, after passing the plot in one direction, be sure to repeat the sowing procedure, moving across the previous direction. In this case, the required density of seeds and the uniformity of their location on the site will be guaranteed.
Alfalfa is very unpretentious in terms of sowing. Some believe that summer crops are the most optimal and allow, with a significant extension of daylight hours and fairly high average daily temperatures, to get 2-3 hay mows by autumn.
If sowing alfalfa in early spring during the very first warm days, then this cold-resistant plant is able to provide 5-6 harvests per summer.