Handling Young Alfalfa
I have alfalfa that is doing very well for the first year. My soil is
sandy loam with light traces of white alkali, although it does not seem
to be detrimental to the growth thus far. I am in the dairy business and
will have by winter enough manure to top-dress the field. Would it be
good policy to use the manure, or would it be more satisfactory to
top-dress with gypsum? Would it injure alfalfa to pasture lightly after
the last cutting?
Presumably your soil contains enough lime, and therefore the application
of gypsum at this time of the year would not be necessary. It may be
desirable to top-dress with gypsum near the end of the rainy season to
stimulate the growth of the plant. Gypsum, however, has no effect upon
white alkali. So far as alkali goes, gypsum merely changes black alkali
into white, thus making it less corrosive.
There would be no objection to pasturing lightly this fall. Be careful,
however, to keep off the stock while the land is wet and not to
overstock so as to injure root crowns by tramping. The manure can be
used as a top dressing during the rainy season, unless you think it
better to save it for the growth of other crops. Alfalfa is so deep
rooting where conditions are favorable that it does not require
fertilization usually on land which has been used for a long time for
grain or other shallow-rooting plants.
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