Production Technology of Lucerne/Alfalfa
Muhammad Umair Yasin*1, Hina Ahmed Malik2.
1Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.
2Soil Agriculture Research Center Lab D-138, Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.
*Corresponding author’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Common Name: Lucerne/Alfalfa
Botanical name: Medicago sativa L.
Lucerne thought to have originated in Iran, from where it travelled to the Arab countries where it was called alfalfa, meaning “best fodder”. Afterwards it was introduced in Europe and called ‘lucerne’. Within the next 150 years it became a popular forage crop in many countries including Indo-Pakistan subcontinent.
Lucerne is a multi-cut, perennial, legume forage crop. It is known as the ‘queen’ of fodders because of its unique and multiple characteristics. Alfalfa contains 18% protein, 11% carbohydrates, 85 fats and 30% fiber. The dry matter equally filled with nutrition containing calcium, magnesium and other mineral salts. It provides fodder throughout the year especially during the two periods of fodder scarcity in the country, May-June and October-November.
Soil and Climate:
Lucerne is well adapted to a wide range of climatic and soil conditions, but it does best under conditions of low rainfall and high sunshine. It grows well in a dry climate on deep, well drained, loamy soil with a PH of 6.5-7. It can tolerate extreme heat and cold.
Seed rate and method of sowing:
Drill 15-20 kg/ha of healthy seed in lines 45cm apart in good wattar. Line sowing better than broadcasting because lines sowing facilities hoeing and other cultural operations in subsequent years. Lucerne is also broadcasted in some parts of the country.
Seedbed preparation and sowing time:
A good seedbed is prepared with a furrow-turning plough followed by three to four shallow cultivations and planking. The assumption that alfalfa does not require any fertilizer is incorrect. A crop sown between October 15 and November 15 gives a good fodder return. In Baluchistan the latest sowing time is in March.
This crop needs a first irrigation three weeks after sowing. Subsequent irrigation are to be applied at interval of 15-20 days in winter and 10-15 days in summer, depending upon the weather. Alfalfa can tolerate drought better than other crops.
Intercultural practices and weeding:
After the seasonal rains in summer are over, hoe the crop to keep it free of weeds and fertilize. This will ensure a good crop throughout the year.
Pest and Diseases:
Armyworm, gram caterpillar and aphids, if the insect pest is observed attacking at least five percent of the crop near the flowering stage, Seven-85 should be dusted.
Time of harvesting and Yield:
The first cutting should be taken three months after sowing. Later cuts may be taken after an interval of five to six weeks. The best time of cutting the fodder is when 10-25% of the flowers have emerged.
Type-8, type-9 and type 8×9