Location: Plant Science ResearchTitle: Lessons learned in managing alfalfa-grass mixtures
Submitted to: Forage Focus
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/31/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Grass-alfalfa mixtures have a number of benefits that make them attractive to producers. However, they can be problematic to establish and maintain. Research programs have made progress in understanding the benefits and challenges of alfalfa-grass mixtures. Mixtures may have greater winter survival in cold weather climates, are less expensive to establish and maintain, and have fewer insect problems than alfalfa monocultures. Compared to grass monocultures, mixtures with alfalfa often have higher total yields. Also, the harvest intervals for a mixed stand may be longer, allowing for more biomass accumulation. Use of a non-lodging type of alfalfa in a mixture was shown to increase yields when harvest intervals are extended. Research is still needed to develop the ideal partners for growth in a mixed stand. Progress has been made in selecting alfalfa plants that preferentially fix N, rather than removing it from the soil, as part of a research program to develop alfalfa germplasm that is better suited for use in grass mixtures.