Location: Plant Science Research
Title: Alfalfa non-feed uses Authors
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.