Lucerne (Medicago sativa)
Lucerne is a very popular plant in the US, used in the UK primarily for silage and hay. Lucerne is also known as Alfalfa when sown as hay to the equine market. br>It is a high protein nitrogen fixing legume which thrives on free draining, non-acidic soil and requires no fertiliser. The selection of the correct Lucerne variety is important due to winter dormancy and resistance against Verticillium wilt, a disease which is soil-borne and must be avoided if lucerne is to be grown regularly. Sow with a small seeds drill or broadcast. br> br>Lucerne can be used as part of your greening measures, as a 'pasture legume' or a 'nitrogen fixing crop' option. br> br>Lucerne requires a particular bacteria (rhizobium) to be present in the soil for it to nodulate successfully. Nodules on the roots allow the plants to fix nitrogen and develop correctly.
Also known as alfalfa in the states, lucerne benefits animal health and soil fertility. It is a high protein forage crop which is usually grown on its own and is very good on drought-prone soils. It establishes relatively slowly, producing significantly more biomass in the second and third years. Lucerne should only be grown on free-draining, alkaline soil. Lucerne requires the correct strain of rhizobia (known as an inoculant) to efficiently fix atmospheric nitrogen and get the most growth.