Ensuring soil fertility levels are adequate is a major factor to consider when growing irrigated alfalfa in southern Alberta. Irrigated alfalfa will produce 5 to 6 tons of dry matter per acre if it receives sufficient amounts of water and nutrients. Climate, soil type and management will all affect the yield a producer can expect from an alfalfa crop. Alfalfa has a high demand for nutrients compared to other crops.
Ensuring adequate soil fertility levels and effectively managing nutrients are two keys to growing alfalfa successfully in Alberta. Alfalfa can produce from 2 to 7 tons of dry matter per acre depending on water and nutrients levels. Climate, soil type and management will also affect alfalfa’s potential yield. Alfalfa has a high demand for nutrients compared to other crops. Table 1 gives the approximate amount of each nutrient removed per ton of dry matter alfalfa. Alfalfa also requires 4 to 5 inches of water for each ton of dry matter produced.
This manual’s objective is to provide livestock and perennial forage crop producers with the information and tools to make decisions about applying manure on perennial forage crops. It also contains information on the regulations for applying manure on forage crops, and resources for more in-depth information or assistance.
An important part of efficient livestock production is ensuring there is sufficient grass for both hay and pasture. However, low soil nutrient levels often limit forage production. With good soil fertility and fertilizer management, the productivity of many hay and pasture fields can be greatly improved.
Timothy has a relatively high demand for nutrients. Under excellent moisture conditions or irrigation and when supplied with the optimum nutrients, timothy is capable of producing yields in the range of 5 to 6 tons/acre, typically 3 to 3.5 tons for first cut and 1.5 to 2 tons for second. With reasonable precipitation, non-irrigated timothy will produce 2 to 4 tons/acre annually.