Monday, November 13, 2006

Use of Non-Traditional Soil Amendments in Alfalfa Production.

David Drake, Grant Cardon, and Thomas C. Griggs. Utah State University, Utah State Univ. Extension, 250 N Main, Richfield, UT 84701

Non-traditional soil amendments of unknown or unproven utility are being marketed to western U.S. alfalfa producers as products to increase forage production, forage quality, soil fertility, and beneficial soil properties. Generally, products contain low percentages of macro and micro nutrients, cultured substances, and various raw or extracted materials. Five commercial products were evaluated for alfalfa (Medicago sativa) forage yield and quality in 2004, 2005, and 2006 in Richfield and Salina, Utah. Amendments were applied in early spring as a spray application mixed with the herbicide, hexazinone, to dormant alfalfa or applied by fertigation to vegetative stage alfalfa in spring. Treatments were applied as field strips in a randomized complete block design with four replications or randomized complete block segments with six replications on a center pivot irrigation system. Alfalfa forage was harvested four times during the growing season. Response to soil amendments varied by treatment, application method, cutting, and year. Some treatments yielded less than the control with other treatments showing varying responses.   Forage quality and soil fertility were not significantly affected.