If you purchased alfalfa seed this year, part of your purchase has now been dedicated to funding nine new research projects. The U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative (USAFRI), better known as the Alfalfa Checkoff, recently awarded the third round of funding to research projects submitted by researchers from a diverse collection of geographic areas of the country.
“The Alfalfa Checkoff is proving to be the asset to the industry we knew it would be,” said Beth Nelson, NAFA President. “The program is energizing alfalfa research across the U.S. and we are funding projects that we believe will have the greatest opportunity to positively benefit the alfalfa community.”
The checkoff, now in its second year, attracted proposals which covered a wide range of topics intended to drive innovation and profitability in the alfalfa industry, as well as a broad geographic area. Research projects in California, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Washington, and Wisconsin were approved for funding and include (project objectives can be viewed on the NAFA website):
- Maximizing Alfalfa’s Yield Potential - Charles Brummer, University of California-Davis
- Characterizing Benefits of Alfalfa in Rotation & Communicating Value of Environmental Services to the Public - Dan Putnam, University of California-Davis
- Impact of Poultry Litter Application on Yield & Quality of Alfalfa Grown in Mississippi - Brett Rushing, Mississippi State University
- “Alfalfa, Wildlife, and the Environment” Publication Update - Craig Sheaffer, University of Minnesota
- Identifying Optimal Alfalfa Germplasm Types & Characteristic for Compatibility & Performance in Mixed Cropping Systems - Brandon Schlautman, The Land Institute
- Spring Black Stem & Stemphylium Leaf Spot Resistance Screening in the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System's Medicago spp. Genetic Resources - Brian Irish, USDA-Agricultural Research Service
- Developing Practical Phosphorus & Potassium Tissue Test Recommendations & Utilizing Struvite in Modern Alfalfa Systems - Steve Norberg, Washington State University
- Integrated Pest Management of Weevils 2019 - Doug Walsh, Washington State University
- Enzyme-Assisted Protein Isolation from Alfalfa Leaves - Youngmi Kim, Matt Digman, University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Funding was determined by a NAFA-appointed panel which reviewed, scored, and discussed proposals to determine which projects best met NAFA’s established research priorities, including: new and updated NAFA publications; agronomic management; feed value consistency; forage quality improvements; new uses and market development; fertility, soil management, soil health, macro/micro nutrients; and yield improvements. Proposals were scored on methodology and analytical approaches; industry need; cost effectiveness/budget/matching funds; partnerships; and outreach.
The final reports from the first round of alfalfa checkoff-funded projects, made in early 2017, are now starting to pay dividends as the data and results from those one-year projects are starting to roll in. The first of those project reports, Evaluation of the Efficacy of Various Herbicides for Control of Broadleaf and Buckhorn Plantain in Alfalfa by Leslie Beck of New Mexico State University, is now available and can be viewed on NAFA’s website. Be sure to bookmark this page and continue to monitor it for more results throughout the coming fall.
NAFA strongly encourages alfalfa farmers to patronize checkoff-participating alfalfa seed brands to support the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative. A current list of checkoff participating marketers can be found at alfalfa.org. (If your favorite alfalfa brand is not on the list, contact NAFA at 651.484.3888 for information on how a seed marketer can become a participating brand.)