Researchers say intercropping alfalfa and corn works

Two University of Wisconsin researchers say there is a way to grow alfalfa between the corn rows successfully.

Mark Renz and Marta Moura Kohmann have developed the guidelines to make it work.  Renz says, “We plant the corn, come back before V1 and plant alfalfa in the rows in between, do stuff to that alfalfa to get it to survive underneath that really dense corn canopy, and then we harvest that corn silage for feed.”

Renz says the alfalfa not only helps suppress weeds, but it grows as an established cover crop in the fall and a full crop the following year without the usual establishment year yield losses.

Moura Kohmann is looking for farmers to give the system a try on a small scale to start with. “You do have some more cost right off the bat that first year, but also, there’s some things we know already are really important such as disease control to protect that alfalfa that first year.”

Renz says harvesting the corn when the ground is relatively dry doesn’t have much impact on alfalfa plant density, but he says competition for nitrogen does take some yield from the corn.

AUDIO: Brownfield’s interview with Marta Moura Kohmann and Mark Renz at the University of Wisconsin about intercropping alfalfa with corn.

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