Alfalfa Establishment and Production on Soils with Different Drainage Characteristics1
- J. H. Jones and
- F. J. Olsen2
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) production is reduced by poor drainage, moisture stress, and impervious soil horizons. This study was conducted to evaluate the establishment and production of alfalfa in relation to drainage characteristics. Four alfalfa cultivars, Cody, Spredor, Weevlchek, and WL-307, were seeded on three soil series, a deep well-drained Alford (fine-silty, mixed, mesic Typic Hapludalf), a moderately well-drained Hosmer (fine-silty, mixed, mesic Typic Fragiudalf), and a nearly level, poorly drained Weir (fine, montmorillonitic, mesic Typic Ochraqualf). Soil moisture levels for the 0- to 0.90-m depth for the three soil series varied according to rainfall and soil water recharge. Soil moisture depletion for the Alford series at the 0.90- to 1.80-m depth was great due mostly to root proliferation. However, soil moisture depletion for Hosmer and Weir series at the 0.90- to 1.80-m depth was much less than the Alford series, indicating little root proliferation into the fragipan and claypan at this depth. The highest dry matter yields were obtained on the well-drained Alford site, whereas the lowest yields were generally obtained on the poorly drained Weir site. Alfalfa stands persisted for 7 yr on the well-drained Alford series and the moderately welldrained Hosmer series and for 5 yr on the poorly drained Weir series. The selection of a well-drained soil site is essential for best alfalfa establishment, persistence, and high production. However, moderately well-drained soils may be used for alfalfa production when welldrained soils are unavailable.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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