How to grow Alfalfa

The following are a few numbers regarding the cultivation of alfalfa, an important fodder for global animal husbandry; The plant should be harvested with close cuts every 20-25 days, starting from mid-April. A it can be mowed successfully a maximum number of 7 per year, even if limited to the first year.

Cuttings can be more limited, up to 4-5 cuts. With these numbers, the production per hectare fluctuates between 14 and 17t of dry matter and 300-3500 kg of protein.

To get the maximum benefits, the planting of alfalfa must follow on from corn on at least 30% of the farm area normally used for the latter. Thus, the alfalfa is utilized for three years, followed by six years of corn. Three years of alfalfa cultivation produces on average 45 tons of dry mass per hectare and 9000 kg / ha of protein with high quality fibre thanks to precocious cuttings. In this way, corn (grain, or maize silage) increases production by 8% to 13% compared to corn in mono succession.

Other important benefits are nutritional and phytosanitary in nature. In fact, after its production, it is possible to reduce the nitrogen intake and treatments against borer can be avoided.

The total production of dry matter is not penalized if the alfalfa is used instead of corn. With this forage system, greater amounts of protein and metabolizable energy are obtained, as well as greater concentrations of nutrients per kilo of food production. In addition, costs are lower and with working hours are reduced.

Finally, thanks to this plant, the environmental impacts decrease thanks to the reduced use of chemicals and the reduced consumption of diesel.

Cultivation requirements

The environmental factors most implicated in the development of alfalfa are temperature and photoperiod. Harvest is faster in the summer when both the temperature and the number of hours of light per day are greater. On average, the vegetative period is reduced by about three weeks as the temperature passes from 17 to 32° C.

Alfalfa is extremely sensitive to the acidity of the soil, the optimal pH is between 6.5 and 7.5. To fully manifest its productive potential, it is necessary that the soil has high fertility, with a good supply of phosphorus and potassium.

The availability of P and K is therefore crucial to obtaining good forage production. S, Fe, Zn, Mn, and B are also essential for growth. The demand for nutrients is intense and constant throughout the vegetative cycle of the crop as the plant is always in active growth and for every cut consistent quantities of nutritional elements are removed.

Thus, correct management of fertigation is essential to evenly distribute the mineral substances adequately in the root zone. The plant, like all leguminous plants, establishes a symbiotic relationship with the rhizobium Sino rhizobium melilot that penetrates the roots immediately after the ranching of the seedlings and forms tubercles on the root. These are essential for the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen.

For appropriate nitrogenous nutrition of alfalfa, it is sufficient that the conditions are met for the symbiotic relationship to be established and maintained and for it to be adequately efficient.

How to water Alfalfa

The alfalfa responds well to irrigation in conditions of poor natural water supply and in lands with little usable reserves. Units of water consumption for the crop vary according to climate and are greater in warm conditions. It has a high capacity to exploit deep water reserves and in fact the best irrigation technique in terms of production and to improve the quality of the plant is sub-irrigation.

The dripline is buried at a depth of 50 cm to allow, using suitable tools, mechanical intervention such as minimum tillage in order to prepare the seedbed with the botanical essence that will follow the plant in the rotation, for example corn.

The technique of medical corn is gaining more ground thanks to its increasingly efficient sub-irrigation systems, that can irrigate two cultures in the same way, using the same drip system. This irrigation system localized to the rhizosphere, allows the agricultural entrepreneur to save up to 40% of energy which can be reinvested in their livestock farm with maximum profit.

Such a system has a very high level of irrigation efficiency and, if supported by targeted fertigation plans, it allows for excellent quality harvesting and produces important benefits that can be used within livestock production.

An underground irrigation system requires small precautions and scheduled ordinary maintenance, a negligible investment if one is to consider the great benefits in terms of quality and quantity pf produce.

Alfalfa Drip irrigation Irritec. Alfalfa Growing.

A practical example of how to drip irrigate alfalfa:

irrigation system project Alfalfa

Here are the Irritec products you need to drip irrigate alfalfa



The characteristics of the self-compensating dripper make of Multibar™ an ideal product for installations in areas with large unevenness of the terrain, where line lengths are required very high and constant flow rates in each portion of the system e high dispensing precision typical of prized crops.

Multibar rootguard Irritec, Alfalfa irrigation.



Single-layer flexible PVC tubing reinforced by a fabric ad high resistance, easy to handle and store. Facilitates end-of-seasonoperations for irrigation systems that require a quick and safe movement. Lightweight and flexible but at the same weather resistant reduces both installation costs and time recovery. Easy to cut and equipped with a wide range of connections make the lay flat piping system an accessory essential for drip irrigation of tomatoes. Available from 2.4 at 6 bars, in all commercial diameters starting from 1 1/2 “up to 8”.

PE and Connecto Pipes Irritec. Irrigation Alfalfa



Irritec® metal filters are solid and resistant over time. Can handle a large variety of courses. Templates are available manual or automatic for applications on both channel water and on well waters.

Metal filter irrigation alfalfa Irritec



Irritec® injection systems are reliable and easy to use. They allow you to inject fertilizers (liquid or diluted in water) a injection rates between 150 l / h and 1700 l / h (depending on the models).



Complete range for tape connection, light dripline and classic, available in sizes 16, 20, 22, 23, 25 and 29 mm.

Fitting and valves Alfalfa - Irritec

Discover how to irrigate others crops

Irritec wants to make life easier for those who take care of the plants, for work and for passion. We aim to ensure that every drop is spent as well as possible, minimizing the ecological footprint.

Agronomic Irritec Team support the farmer also on after-sale and installation, with continuous assistance and efficiency control. Continuous attention to the customer needs to provide succesful and sustainable solution with an efficience service.