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How Can I Grow Alfalfa?

Alfalfa is used for livestock feed.
Alfalfa sprouts are high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants.
Alfalfa can be rotated with other crops, especially oats and wheat.
Growing alfalfa sprouts requires a high amount of moisture.
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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2014
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Alfalfa is the most cost-productive crop that can be grown for livestock feeding. In fact, it is so easy to grow that it has been the crop of choice for farmers for over four centuries. Throughout the centuries, different types have been created in order to help it grow in diverse soils and climates. It is susceptible to attacks from weevils, however, which are a major pest. Pests that affect these plants are easy to control through non-chemical methods, which makes it easier to protect than other crops.

To grow successfully, this crop needs soil with a pH of about 7.5; acidic soils and soils with bedrock or low humidity are not a good medium for the plant, which needs high levels of phosphorus and potassium to thrive. It is often rotated with other crops, especially oats and wheat, to allow the soil to recuperate. Red clover is a great crop to plant just before alfalfa, as its roots will promote drainage and increase breathing room for the alfalfa roots, which are long and deep.

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Alfalfa needs a few basic things to grow successfully. These include a soil free of weeds and with a well-planned drainage system. The ground can be used for grazing as the crops are growing, but only after the first year. At the beginning, the plant needs time to adjust to the soil and the first year crop may not thrive. Starting with good-quality seeds can have a big impact on the crops, so it is important to invest appropriately as the process starts.

This plant can also be grown at home, especially by people looking to produce the sprouts. Sprouting alfalfa seeds can be done in a simple glass jar by adding a handful of soaked seeds to soil and then sealing the jar covered with a screen of woven fabric. This is an essential step that will allow the seeds to breathe as they sprout. The seeds should be rinsed with warm water daily for 5-6 days, after which they should be laid in the sun for about 15 minutes. The seeds are easy to grow at home, and the sprouts provide fiber, protein, and antioxidants.

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anon311365
Post 6

Fresh alfalfa is liked by horses very much and it is helpful for livestock and humans.

honeybees
Post 5

I belong to a few different health groups and food co-ops and have been very interested in sprouting. Growing alfalfa sprouts and wheat grass are on my list of things to try. I have seen kits in the health food store and think this would be an easy way to get started.

It sure looks like it would be much more economical to grow your own sprouts than it would be to buy them all the time. The health benefits sound amazing and would be great in smoothies.

LisaLou
Post 4

My mother has also taken alfalfa for a long time. One of the best alfalfa uses for her is to help control her blood pressure. She has borderline high blood pressure and has noticed that when she is consistent with taking alfalfa, her blood pressure stays down.

I don't know if there are any studies that have been doing for this, but she swears by it.

SarahSon
Post 3

@bagley79 - Yes - alfalfa has many benefits. I have been taking an alfalfa supplement for many years. The roots of the alfalfa plant grow very deep into the soil and are able to pick up many minerals that other plants do not have.

I have read about several benefits of taking alfalfa on a regular basis. It really helps me with stiffness in my joints. If I go a few weeks without taking it, I can really notice a difference and quickly get back on the supplement.

bagley79
Post 2

Growing up on a small acerage, we often grew alfalfa, along with other rotating crops. We also had a few horses and they loved the alfalfa hay.

Alfalfa was always a pretty easy crop to grow and has so many benefits for livestock and humans. It was not hard for our horses to recognize good alfalfa - some years crops were better than others. They would always eat the hay, but always preferred the fresh alfalfa every time.

anon152576
Post 1

pH of 7.5? I would suggest that 6.8-7.0 is more ideal with my experience as a forage agronomist.

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