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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Enhanced Alfalfa Germplasm and Genomic Resources for Yield, Quality, and Environmental Protection

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Alfalfa non-feed uses

Authors
item Lamb, Joann
item Jung, Hans Joachim -
item Russelle, Michael
item Sheaffer, Craig -
item Samac, Deborah
item Vance, Carroll

Submitted to: Grain Legumes
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 10, 2013
Publication Date: July 31, 2014
Citation: Lamb, J.F., Jung, H.G., Russelle, M.P., Sheaffer, C.V., Samac, D.A., Vance, C.P. 2014. Alfalfa non-feed uses. Grain Legumes. 4:38.

Interpretive Summary: Alfalfa plays an essential role in sustainable agriculture. Alfalfa’s perennial growth habit and extensive root system permits the crop to aerate soil, access deep water resources, capture nutrient run-off and mitigate soil erosion. Using alfalfa in rotation interrupts pest and pathogen cycles and through symbiotic N2 fixation with soil bacterium, provides up to 100% of the N nutrient requirement of the subsequent crop. Non-feed uses are needed to increase and diversify revenue streams for growers and allow alfalfa a greater role in sustainable agricultural systems. New uses include alfalfa as a renewable biomass feedstock that can help meet the energy demands of the future, and as an inexpensive and efficient remediation tool to remove sub-soil nitrate from N contaminated sites .

Technical Abstract: Non-feed uses for alfalfa such as biomass energy and phytoremediation could increase alfalfa acreage and improve farm profitability. The new bio-energy alfalfa and production system increased forage yield and ethanol production. New alfalfas with enhanced nitrogen cycling capacities would protect water quality and enhance alfalfa’s value in crop rotation systems.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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