Alfalfa OGMedicago sativa Perennial legume. Up to 3' high. This fragrant plant with beautiful purple flowers is a favorite for multi-year stands. Home gardeners like to cut it and add it to their compost piles. Herbalists consider it a valuable nutritive tonic. excellent feed for all classes of livestock. Best suited to light well-drained soils because alfalfa's taprooted structure makes it susceptible to heaving. Delicate seedlings benefit from a nurse crop of barley or oats.
Alfalfa was first cultivated in ancient Persia; it was adopted by the Greeks when they were invaded by the Persians in 490 BCE, and was brought to California from Chile in 1850.
As perennial hay: Typically interplanted with grass in organic systems. Often rotated with field corn on livestock farms (2–3 year alfalfa stand followed by 1–2 years of corn).
As cover crop: An excellent choice to build organic matter and nitrogen in fields that will be taken out of production for more than one year. Regular mowing will help deter quackgrass and annual weeds.
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