Did you know alfalfa is the nation’s third most valuable field crop, valued at over $10.8 billion? But according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, alfalfa acres have seen a decline in the U.S, a trend the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance has been watching.
In support of alfalfa farmers and the benefits the crop provides to the dairy industry, the environment and a farmer’s return on investment, NAFA is taking a stand with the launch of the Regeneration Nation initiative.
“Alfalfa is the ultimate regenerative crop, helping farmers build their soil health and reach sustainability goals,” says Beth Nelson, NAFA president. “Additionally, it provides more protein per acre than row crops for dairy rations and helps support milk production. The Regeneration Nation initiative allows us to applaud these benefits.
“We’re excited to partner with others in the alfalfa industry to share the incredible advantages of alfalfa and the results from our new and much-needed research with a larger audience. The Regeneration Nation initiative gives us a platform to communicate these benefits and results to dairy and forage growers across the country.”
Research is currently underway on increasing alfalfa productivity, quantifying how inclusion in dairy diets can improve milk fat and protein yields, and using life cycle assessments to measure the sustainability profile of alfalfa-based livestock forage production systems.
“NAFA has done a lot to champion the alfalfa industry, and I’m excited to see this initiative highlight the value of the crop,” says John Ruedinger, a third-generation Wisconsin dairy farmer from Fond du Lac and a Wisconsin Master Agriculturist. “On my operation, alfalfa plays a vital role on multiple fronts. It provides the protein and effective fiber our cows need to perform, builds our soil health, and balances soil nutrients.”
Alfalfa is a high-quality forage with nutritional and regenerative benefits that keeps on giving, stand after stand. As dairy farmers strive to further reduce their environmental footprints, alfalfa can help them achieve their goals when included in crop rotations. The rotational benefits of alfalfa provide substantial cost savings in nitrogen fertilizers and improved soil health. The forage also helps meet the nutritional demand of dairy cows, increasing milk production over other ration options.
To learn more about alfalfa’s benefits for your farm, go to regeneration-nation.org.