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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Plant Science Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #293276

Title: Alfalfa non-feed uses

item Lamb, Joann
item JUNG, HANS JOACHIM - Retired ARS Employee
item Russelle, Michael
item SHEAFFER, CRAIG - University Of Minnesota
item Samac, Deborah - Debby
item Vance, Carroll

Submitted to: Legume Perspectives
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/10/2013
Publication Date: 7/31/2014
Citation: Lamb, J.F., Jung, H.G., Russelle, M.P., Sheaffer, C.V., Samac, D.A., Vance, C.P. 2014. Alfalfa non-feed uses. Legume Perspectives. 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.