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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Management of Alfalfa in Grasslands

Authors
item Hendrickson, John
item Berdahl, John
item Liebig, Mark

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 22, 2005
Publication Date: February 12, 2006
Citation: Hendrickson, J.R., Berdahl, J.D., Liebig, M.A. Management of alfalfa in grasslands. Meeting Abstract. 59th Annual Meeting of the Society for Range Management, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, February 12-17, 2006.

Technical Abstract: Alfalfa can enhance the quality and quantity of forages on range and grasslands and new cultivars of alfalfa are being developed with improved grazing tolerance; however, little is known regarding defoliation management. A hay-type (Vernal) and 2 grazing-type (Anik and SCMF 3713) alfalfas were space-planted into 2 sites on a native rangeland and 6 different defoliation treatments and a control were imposed on them beginning in 2003. Defoliation treatments were 1) alfalfa only defoliated in the mid-bud stage; 2) alfalfa and surrounding vegetation defoliated when alfalfa was in the mid-bud stage; 3) alfalfa only defoliated in the flower stage; 4) alfalfa and surrounding vegetation defoliated when alfalfa was in the flower stage; 5) alfalfa only defoliated when it was in the flower stage followed by a defoliation in the mid-bud stage and 6) alfalfa and surrounding vegetation defoliated when alfalfa was in the flower stage followed by defoliation in the mid-bud stage. SCMF 3713 produced 1.3 to 1.6 times as much total biomass as Vernal, while Anik’s production was similar to Vernal. One site only produced 50% of the biomass of the other site and showed no responses to defoliation treatment. On the more productive site, both Anik and SCMF 3713 produced the most biomass when alfalfa was selectively defoliated at the flower and bud stage. Grazing-type alfalfas have been shown to have increased persistence under grazing but this data suggests that some cultivars are also more productive than hay-type alfalfas when planted into grasslands.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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