Alfalfa is a hay used as forage for livestock, as feedlots for wildlife, or as green manure that can be tilled back in to enrich the soil. For small plots, broadcast planting of alfalfa seed is the simplest and most affordable method. Good soil quality and preparation, proper moisture content, and correct seed density and depth all contribute the best crop possible. Once established, an alfalfa field will produce good quality hay year after year and can last for up to 10 years before needed to be replanted.
Things You'll Need
- Alfalfa seed
- Soil roller
- Irrigation equipment
Choose a site for planting that has deep, fertile soil that drains well. Plant alfalfa seeds in either spring or fall.
Pre-treat the area to be planted with an herbicide to kill off any weeds or sod. Wait the amount of time specified by the manufacturer instructions, before planting alfalfa seed.
Test the soil to determine its level of fertility. Optimally, soil should have a pH of at least 6.5 with a phosphorus level of at least 60 lbs. per acre and a potassium level of at least 250 lbs. per acre
Apply a fertilizer to the surface of the soil, based on test results, with line, phosphorus and potash fertilizer to amend the soil, if necessary just before tilling the soil.
Till the soil thoroughly, while moist, to break up the first 3 to 4 inches. Remove any larger weeds from the soil. Firm the soil with a roller to provide an even seed bed.
Broadcast alfalfa seeds at a rate of 20 to 25 lbs. per acre. Rake the soil to cover the seeds to a depth of approximately 1/4 inch. Roll the soil again to firm it down around the seeds.
Irrigate the planted area thoroughly and regularly so that the soil stays moist but not wet. Watch for germinating seeds to emerge within the next one to two weeks.