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  • Writer's picturePhilip

Reduce Input Costs.

Looking at these photographs of young seedlings you would be hard pressed to tell which of the legumes this actually is but looking at the label on the bag, its Lucerne!

So why plant this legume as opposed to one of the many others? Well, many farmers are looking for alternative ways to meet the protein requirements within cow diets as input costs continue to increase.

Lucerne being grown here is primarily for multi cut silage although it can be grazed successfully providing it is not overgrazed or during adverse ground conditions.

Lucerne may be suited to all soil textural types with a high pH but must be grown on well drained ground. Like maize it should be sown in to warm soils; temperatures above 8°C.

Lucerne isn’t drought resistant, but it's certainly drought tolerant. In the very hot dry weather last summer, growth was checked but it did not suffer in the way some grass swards did.

Being a legume, Lucerne also fixes its own nitrogen, this means that there is another saving to be made on bought-in fertiliser when growing forage. Also, at the end of a crops life there can be appreciable amounts of nitrogen available for follow-on crops within the rotation.

With high protein levels and its rumen-friendly scratch factor making it highly digestible, Lucerne is a viable alternative to imported protein. Its nutrient composition also makes it a useful complementary feed for diets containing maize.

Five reasons to grow Lucerne

Reduced bought-in feed costs

Potential DM yield of 10-15 tonnes/ha

Reduces nitrogen fertiliser requirement

Complements maize silage

Crop has a four to six years persistency.


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