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Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) has often been referred to as the "Queen of Forages" because it is an excellent source of protein and digestible fiber, and because of its wide adaptation. Alfalfa has a high mineral content and contains at least 10 different vitamins and is an important source of vitamin A. Alfalfa improves soil tilth and, in symbiosis with nitrogen fixing bacteria, is highly effective in converting atmospheric nitrogen to biological nitrogen. Thus, alfalfa is an ideal crop for use in crop rotation to improve soil tilth and replenish nutrients depleted from the soil by other crops such as corn.
Alfalfa is a leguminous plant with clover-like leaves and bluish flowers. Native to southwestern Asia, it is widely grown for fodder. Alfalfa is a perennial crop, which means it will grow for several years after planting. Alfalfa is the most cultivated forage legume in the world.
- Alfalfa is high in protein, calcium and other minerals, vitamins in the B group, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
- Most varieties go dormant in the fall, with reduced growth in response to low temperatures and shorter days.
- Alfalfa seed production requires the presence of pollinators when the fields of alfalfa are in bloom.