HAY & FORAGE GROWER MAGAZINE – Hay & Forage Grower is featuring results of research projects funded through the Alfalfa Checkoff, officially named the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative, administered by National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA). The checkoff program facilitates farmer-funded research.
Implemented voluntarily by seed brands, the Checkoff is assessed at $1 per bag of alfalfa seed sold with 100 percent of funds supporting public alfalfa research. The first project results are just being completed; detailed reports can be viewed on NAFA’s searchable research database at alfalfa.org.
Alfalfa’s forage quality progress
Reduced-lignin alfalfas were lower in lignin and higher in neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD) when compared with conventional varieties as well as those marketed by alfalfa seed companies as high quality. This was a conclusion of University of Minnesota and Cornell University joint research that analyzed alfalfa forage quality and yield over a 2017 seeding year and a 2018 full-production year.
“We looked at eight reduced-lignin alfalfas, 12 varieties marketed for high quality, and five conventional, good-yielding varieties,” said Craig Sheaffer, the University of Minnesota forage agronomist who worked with Jerry Cherney, Cornell University forage agronomist. “The reduced-lignin types definitely have reduced lignin. And, on average, over all of the maturity stages (late vegetative, early bud, late bud, and early flower), the reduced-lignin types have greater digestibility, too.”
That improved digestibility means genetically modified reduced-lignin alfalfas can potentially boost milk production, as University of Wisconsin research has shown, Sheaffer added. To read the entire summary, Alfalfa’s Forage Quality Progress