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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

The Effect of Time and Rate of Fertilizer Application on the Yield, Composition, and Longevity of Alfalfa1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 21 No. 1, p. 42-46
    Received: Nov 1, 1954
    Accepted: Apr 5, 1956

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  1. W. W. Nelson and
  2. J. M. MacGregor2



An experiment was conducted on Port Byron silt loam (aeolian) at the Rosemount Experiment Station in eastern Minnesota to determine the effect of time and rate of fertilizer application on the yield, composition, and longevity of alfalfa. Six tons of lime per acre were applied late in 1949 and alfalfa was seeded early in the following spring. Commencing in 1951, three cuttings were made annually.

The total alfalfa yield without fertilizer for the 3 years (1951–53) was 9.69 tons per acre. Highly significant yield increases were obtained only where potash was included in the fertilizer. The highest 3-year total yield of 13.52 tons per acre was obtained by applying 1,000 pounds of 0-20-20 per acre in the spring before the alfalfa was seeded and later top-dressed with 200 pounds of 5-20-20 per acre for the second and the third crop years. When nitrogen was omitted from the top dressing, the 3-year yield was 13.44 tons.

Fall and spring fertilization was equally effective on the eight fertilizer treatments compared.

Crude protein, phosphorus, and potassium were generally highest in the second cutting of alfalfa and lowest in the first cutting. Crude protein content of the alfalfa varied from 19.1% to 24.8%, phosphorus from 0.20% to 0.39%, and potassium from 1.09% to 2.17%–the mineral content being affected by fertilizer treatment.

In the fourth year, the stand on most of the treatments was still very good.

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