Alfalfa is a perennial plant of 10-80 cm, herbaceous, with trifoliate leaves and violet or yellow flowers. It tolerates heat and is quite resistant to drought. It can withstand low temperatures and needs deep and permeable soil.
With rapid germination and implantation, it is established in irrigation as a monophytic crop and requires a sowing dose of about 20-25 kg/ha. In very cold winter regions, spring sowing can be carried out and have an average production life of 4-5 years.
It is a plant that is very productive with sustained growth throughout the summer. The annual production oscillates between 15-28 t/ha. Its nutritional value is excellent given the high protein content it contains and its high digestibility.
In irrigation, it enables carrying out 5-6 cuttings every 25-35 days. The first and last cuts are the highest quality because there are a smaller number of plants in bloom. Fodder can be consumed green or preserved by tedding or dehydration.
It is an excellent fodder plant that provides high levels of proteins, minerals and quality vitamins. Its energy value is also very high and is related to the nitrogenous value of the forage. In addition, it is a source of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulphur, etc.
Dehydrated alfalfa has nutritional advantages over other products, such as the contribution of fibre and protein ratio with a good level of digestibility, which is why specialists in nutrition unquestionably include it in rations of ruminants and equines. Quality dehydrated alfalfa has virtually no alternative when it comes to feeding cattle.
Ryegrass is an annual or biennial plant of 40-120 mm. Smooth or rough stems towards the top. Leaves with membranous ligule 1-2 mm and auricles. Inflorescence in spike. Spikelets with a single glume that covers half the spikelet (rarely up to 2/3), usually with 11-22 flowers.
Requires temperate climates. Sometimes resistant in the cold, but it is very sensitive to heat and drought. Does not tolerate waterlogging. In fertile soils it develops a high productive potential.
It is sown in drylands (> 700 mm annual precipitation) and irrigation, as well as a short-lived monophyte crop or forming meadows with a very fast initial growth.
The main reasons for the great development of this crop are high productivity, precocity and nutritional quality. Unlike other grasses, if sown in the early fall, it enables an initial harvest before the end of the year (1.5-2 t/ha).
It is used preferably by harvesting, in green, tedding or silage. It can also be grazed. It has a high viscosity related to its high sugar content.
Fescue is a perennial plant of 45-180 cm, grassy. Leaves with flat ribs and protruding nerves. Elongated spikelets, with 3-10 flowers, with almost equal glumes. Lemmas without ridges or with a ridge less than 4 mm.
It adapts to very diverse climatic and soil conditions. Good tolerance to cold, heat and drought. It prefers calcareous and clay substrates, but it can grow in acidic, saline and waterlogged soils.
It is a preferably monophyte crop, although it can also be part of meadows. It is grown in drylands of more than 500 mm of annual precipitation and irrigation.
It has a slow and vulnerable initial growth due to the competition of more aggressive species, such as ryegrass, which is why it is recommended to mix only with orchard grass, alfalfa or white clover. Sowing dose of 20-24 kg/ha in pure sowing, in mixtures, lower doses are used. High persistence, exceeding 5 years.
Interest in using it as fodder is due to high productions, close to 10 t/ha, which is sustained throughout the year. Appetite and digestibility for livestock are low. It tends to form spikes early in the spring. Nutritional quality slightly less than orchard grass.
It is used both in harvesting, green or for tedding, as well as for pasturing. Good tolerance for grazing and cattle grazing. It is not advisable to mix it with grasses if you want to carry out an operation under an exclusive grazing system. Due to rapid sprouts and a loss of digestibility in the spikes, intensive and frequent use is recommended for young plants.
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