Alfalfa meal is a perennial flowering legume that is mainly known as an animal feed and has a lot of benefits which are explained below:
1) Excellent Source of Minerals
Nitrogen which is essential for plant growth can be obtained from alfalfa meals. Not only nitrogen can be obtained. Alfalfa meal is also an excellent source for some other minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, boron, iron, sulfur, potassium, and zinc. On the basis of the source, the N-P-K ratio for alfalfa is approximately 3 – 1- 3.
2) Alfalfa Meal Builds Organic Matter
Alfalfa meal is known to help in building organic matter in your soil and this provides nutrients to plant roots. It contains high nitrogen content which helps other organic materials to decompose. The organic matter likewise, helps in preventing compaction. It also, acts like a sponge, aids in holding moisture in the soil, helps in soil structure improvement, and helps to prevent erosion.
3) Growth Stimulation
Triacontanol which is a hormone that stimulates the growth of plant roots can be found in alfalfa. This helps to enhance photosynthesis and also, helps to increase beneficial microbes which aid in suppressing a lot of soil-borne diseases.
4) Compost Stimulation
You can add your alfalfa meal to your compost for stimulation. Alfalfa meal decomposes very quickly, creating heat which helps the remaining compost decompose. The finished compost will contain higher nutrient levels once the alfalfa meal is used and higher nutrient levels in your compost, as well as soil, will give more nutrient-dense produce in your garden.
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5) Nitrogen Fixation
Alfalfa works in a way as an agent of nitrogen fixation by taking nitrogen from the air and holding it as nodules on its roots. The nitrogen then becomes available in the soil for other plants to use when the alfalfa plant is cut down with the roots remaining in the soil or perhaps when the plant is turned into the soil.
6) Alfalfa Meal Provides Drought Resistance
Alfalfa is known to have a sponge-like ability to absorb moisture and this helps to resist drought. Once alfalfa meal is used, plants grown in the soil become more resistant to periods of little rain.
7) Harmful Nematodes Control
Alfalfa meal helps to control harmful nematodes such as root-knot nematode on tomato plants, and cyst nematode on carrots.
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8) Provides Food for Microorganisms
The addition of alfalfa meal to your soil also serves as a source of food for your microorganisms. This is as a result of its tasty nutrients, thus, an infusion of alfalfa meal will help beneficial microbes and worms thrive.
9) Acts as a Dynamic Accumulator
Alfalfa roots go down into the sub-soil up to 8 feet. This helps in bringing essential hard-to-reach nutrients up to the soil surface where they are then stored in the leaves of the plants.
By making use of the cut alfalfa in your garden and compost, these nutrients are added to the upper layers of your soil where other garden plants can make use of them. Alfalfa meal can help in bringing iron to the surface, a micro-nutrient required for chlorophyll synthesis.
How to use Alfalfa Meal
If it’s a light dosage, 12 pounds of fertilizer per 1000 square feet is ideal. As for medium dosage, it should be 25 pounds per 1000 square feet. 50 pounds per 1000 square feet is ideal for heavy application.
You can work your alfalfa meal into the top few inches or perhaps, spread it as a top-cover. If it’s top-layered, it’s best to mulch overtop the meal as this prevents it from drying and blowing off.
For smaller-sized pellets, they tend to break down quickly when exposed to water but as for larger-sized cubed or pellets, they need to be broken down first. Have some placed into a 5-gallon bucket.
Afterwards, add water to cover and wait for nothing less than an hour. A potato masher is then used to break apart the pellets or cubes. Ensure to drain off the liquid from soaking but do not dump it out. Your alfalfa meal can be worked through the soil as normal.
Alfalfa meal provides a lot of benefits to your garden and your crops as well, so ensure to incorporate it in your garden today.