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Study shows alfalfa doesn’t need potassium in the fall

New research suggests alfalfa growers can get away with less fertilizer.

University of Minnesota Extension nutrient management specialist Daniel Kaiser says the study zeroed in on fall-applied potassium.

“To help the alfalfa over-winter in our harsher climate. And one of the things we saw over four years of multiple varieties is that over-wintering effect really isn’t that important at this point in time.”

He tells Brownfield the data shows no difference between spring alfalfa stands that received potassium in the fall and those that did not.

Kaiser attributes that to varieties bred for greater winter hardiness and soils with much higher fertility.

“So at this point we’re not really recommending those fresh applications. So for growers, look at really concentrating on that single application, particularly if they’re buying potassium fertilizer. They’ll have a lot of flexibility in terms of when they put that on.”

He says their findings point to more benefits when applying fertilizer to alfalfa up front instead of worrying about it toward the end of the stand.

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