Alfalfa and its properties: seasonality and structure



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Alfalfa and its properties: seasonality and structure

Stefania Montori and Lucia De Carolis came back to talk with us about an interesting topic for the column: Among nature, history and territory: tradition meets science. Stefania and Lucia are telling us about alfalfa. It is advisable to plant alfalfa seeds in spring or, even better, a little before autumn.

This is useful to ensure that with the arrival of winter, the root is already well established in the soil and does not risk being exposed to excessive rain or frost. Before planting the seeds, however, the soil must be prepared by plowing at least 35 cm deep.

There are those who recommend fertilizing with phosphorus products and dung, even before sowing, or even before plowing, to allow the substances to penetrate deeper into the soil and transfer more easily to the roots of the plant.

Once plowed, you can proceed with sowing, taking care not to go too far below 2 cm when placing the beans in the ground. Where it is not possible to use animal dung, the typical fertilization of the soil is carried out with the Green Manure technique, which consists of burying young alfalfa seedlings, which will nourish the soil and provide the nitrogen part needed to make a land fertile.

Alfalfa has numerous stems that reach a height of one meter, generated by cutting the previous head. The rejection of alfalfa is in fact very fast, certainly one of its strong points. The leaves are trifoliate with oval, elongated leaflets.

The flowers are of a violet blue color. The fruit is a spiral legume with about 2-8 seeds inside, depending on the variety. The Medicago Sativa plant grows in any soil, as long as it is not overly refractory and acidic fields (the ideal pH is around 7).

Finally, the best time to mow is when the plant is in full bloom. Stefano adds that their territory is rich in grass weeds that provide minerals and little protein. The sowing of Medica ensures that the environment is enriched with that missing protein part that in the summer, where the livestock is in the wild, finds in the environment everything necessary for its sustenance, without any integration.

Always used in animal husbandry, alfalfa naturally contains all the elements necessary for the growth and maintenance of animals, in the ideal proportion for the best productivity and respecting their natural biorhythm. The high quality protein content and the degradability of the fiber make alfalfa an essential component in the diet of ruminants and herbivores.

Carbohydrates are mainly present in the form of fibers, which are used by bacteria in the rumen and intestine for the production of fatty acids. A diet based on alfalfa is essential for the growth of healthy and long-lived animals, and guarantees the production of high quality milk, meat and eggs.

This makes alfalfa the forage crop par excellence, the most widespread in Italy and in the world. The alfalfa of the De Carolis family is grown exclusively organic without the addition of fertilizers. The processing takes place within the company.

Having control over the entire supply chain, maximum attention is paid to quality in all stages of production: from lawn management to mowing and harvesting techniques, from processing to storage of finished products. In winter, Selenium and Vitamin E are added to the rations of the animal, unfortunately lacking in this type of forage.