The ability of alfalfa to add fertility to the farm,
and directly to the field producing it when all the crops are removed
as hay, does not preclude the necessity of having the soil fertile when
the seeding is made. The plants find competition with grass and other
weeds keen under eastern skies where moisture favors plant-life. In
their first season this is markedly true. There should be plenty of
available plant-food for the young plants. Stable manure that is free
from the seeds of pernicious weeds makes an excellent dressing. It is
good practice to plow down a heavy coat of manure for corn and then to
replow the land for alfalfa the next season. A top-dressing of manure
is good, affording excellent physical condition of the surface for
starting the plants. Eight tons per acre make a good dressing.
If land is not naturally fertile, mineral fertilizers should be
applied. A mixture of 350 pounds of 14 per cent acid phosphate and 50
pounds of muriate of potash is excellent for an acre of manured land.
In the absence of manure, 100 pounds of nitrate of soda and 50 pounds
of muriate of potash should be added to the mixture. If the materials
are wet, a drier must be used. The fertilizer should be drilled into
the ground prior to the seeding.
Next: A Clean Seed-bed