Springboard from tradition to innovation

reprinted with permission from Progressive Forage Grower

Technological advances in the alfalfa industry have provided us with a baseline to discover innovations.  It’s reflective of the old English proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

The goal to achieve more production while balancing forage quality and soil stewardship has been the driving force behind many of the industry’s innovative discoveries.  Tremendous focus has been placed on reducing as many of the production-limiting factors as we can, so let’s take a closer look at a few of these factors:

  • Alfalfa plant genetics
    Great strides are being made to help increase forage quality, such as lowering lignin levels and increasing digestibility.  The result will be an increase in animal production while decreasing manure output.
  • Soil management/fertility
    Crop management computer programs can help manage all crop production functions from precise grid soil sampling to data management, which is key to revealing production-limiting factors.

Armed with soil test results, these computer programs help create and design a full-season plan that includes variable-rate fertility based on soil test report, along with variable rate planting based on soil type and fertility condition.  As the growing season evolves, tissue sampling has become an important fertility management tool.  The bottom line is to design a powerful plant diet that will reduce any nutritional limitations, while digitally tracking to better assist management with planning.

Kansas State University Department of Agronomy is working on a drone, or a radio-controlled aircraft, capable of capturing near-infrared, natural color and video.  Such technology can be used for studying plant productivity, monitoring plant growth stages, assessing plant health and mapping plant composition for characterizing changes in distribution of invasive and toxic plant species.

  • Seed
    Recently I came across a 1926 alfalfa seed advertisement, encouraging producers to clean seed before planting.  While the industry has evolved greatly, clean seed has certainly become a tradition in the seed industry.  Today we have top-notch seed quality programs that ensure we are planting only the best and highest quality seed.

As much as the industry has evolved, we know additional improvements will take place over time.  It’s comforting to know we can count on many new discoveries to help us reach our yield goals are they continue to increase.  And you can bet that Latham Hi-Tech Seeds will provide you with alfalfa products that offer the most yield potential!