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Cultivation of ashvakshura - Medicago sativa

ashvakshura - Medicago sativa - Fabaceae

ashvakshura :

ashvakshura : Medicago sativa


Alfalfa is widely grown throughout the world as forage for cattle, and is most often harvested as hay, but can also be made into silage, grazed, or fed as greenchop.[18]Alfalfa usually has the highest feeding value of all common hay crops. It is used less frequently as pasture.[17] When grown on soils where it is well-adapted, alfalfa is often the highest-yielding forage plant, but its primary benefit is the combination of high yield per hectare and high nutritional quality.[19]

Its primary use is as feed for high-producing dairy cows, because of its high protein content and highly digestible fiber, and secondarily for beef cattle, horses, sheep, and goats.[20][21] Alfalfa hay is a widely used protein and fiber source for meat rabbits. In poultry diets, dehydrated alfalfa and alfalfa leaf concentrates are used for pigmenting eggs and meat, because of their high content in carotenoids, which are efficient for colouring egg yolk and body lipids.[22]Humans also eat alfalfa sprouts in salads and sandwiches.[23][24] Dehydrated alfalfa leaf is commercially available as a dietary supplement in several forms, such as tablets, powders and tea.[25] Fresh alfalfa can cause bloating in livestock, so care must be taken with livestock grazing on alfalfa because of this hazard.[26]

Like other legumes, its root nodules contain bacteria, Sinorhizobium meliloti, with the ability to fix nitrogen, producing a high-protein feed regardless of available nitrogen in the soil.[27] Its nitrogen-fixing ability (which increases soil nitrogen) and its use as an animal feed greatly improve agricultural efficiency.


Alfalfa can be sown in spring or fall, and does best on well-drained soils with a neutral pH of 6.8–7.5.[30][31] Alfalfa requires sustained levels of potassium and phosphorus to grow well.[32] It is moderately sensitive to salt levels in both the soil and irrigation water, although it continues to be grown in the arid southwestern United States, where salinity is an emerging issue.[33][34][35] Soils low in fertility should be fertilized with manure or a chemical fertilizer, but correction of pH is particularly important.[36] Usually a seeding rate of 13 – 20 kg/hectare (12 – 25 lb/acre) is recommended, with differences based upon region, soil type, and seeding method.[37] A nurse crop is sometimes used, particularly for spring plantings, to reduce weed problems and soil erosion, but can lead to competition for light, water, and nutrients


In most climates, alfalfa is cut three to four times a year, but it can be harvested up to 12 times per year in Arizona and southern California.[39][40] Total yields are typically around eight tonnes per hectare (four short tons per acre) in temperate environments, but yields have been recorded up to 20 t/ha (16 ts per acre).[40] Yields vary with region, weather, and the crops stage of maturity when cut. Later cuttings improve yield, but with reduced nutritional content.
 When alfalfa is to be used as hay, it is usually cut and baled.[49] Loose haystacks are still used in some areas, but bales are easier for use in transportation, storage, and feed.[50] Ideally, the first cutting should be taken at the bud stage, and the subsequent cuttings just as the field is beginning to flower, or one-tenth bloom because carbohydrates are at their highest.[51] When using farm equipment rather than hand-harvesting, a swather cuts the alfalfa and arranges it in windrows.[52] In areas where the alfalfa does not immediately dry out on its own, a machine known as a mower-conditioner is used to cut the hay.[49]The mower-conditioner has a set of rollers or flails that crimp and break the stems as they pass through the mower, making the alfalfa dry faster.[53] After the alfalfa has dried, a tractor pulling a baler collects the hay into bales.

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