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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Value-Added Traits of Alfalfa

Authors
item Martin, Neal
item Koegel, Richard

Submitted to: Alfalfa National Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 12, 2000
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Value-added traits of alfalfa are needed to provide farmers new high-value profitable products. Processing alfalfa to obtain value-added products includes three different fractionation methods: 1) wet fractionation (separation into juice fraction and a fiber fraction); 2) dry fractionation (separation into leaves and stems); and 3) fractionation by passage of the whole herbage through the digestive systems of ruminant animals, leaving a high-fiber residue. Phytase from transgenic alfalfa has been tested in poultry and swine rations. Chicks supplemented with phytase from transgenic alfalfa juice or leaf meal had growth equal to chicks fed phosphorus-supplemented rations. The manure from these chicks supplemented with alfalfa phytase contained less than half the phosphorus levels of manure from chicks fed inorganic phosphorus supplements. The economic value of phytase alfalfa product could generate $750 to $1500 per acre income from alfalfa grown in the Midwest. Alfalfa hay can be fractionated to yield stems and leaf meal. Alfalfa leaf meal has been shown to be an acceptable supplement to replace a portion of alfalfa hay and soybean meal in diets of lactating dairy cattle, replace protein supplement in beef cow diets, finishing steer diets and diets of growing turkeys. Current energy costs in this country limit the use of alfalfa stems to generate electricity from gasification. The fiber portion of alfalfa can produce lactic acid and ethanol. The fiber from alfalfa manure has yielded press board and water filters capable of removing heavy metals from contaminated water.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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