[permaculture] alfalfa

Lawrence London lfljvenaura at gmail.com
Mon Mar 25 23:42:10 EDT 2013

On Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 2:28 PM, Scott Pittman <scott at permaculture.org>wrote:

> While I am against GMO anything, I am particularly against GMO alfalfa.
> Alfalfa has become one of the largest commodity crops in the southwest,
> every day I see semi-truck loads of alfalfa on the highway from Colorado to
> Texas and Oklahoma.

As far as I know most of the output of US agriculture is for export, from
hay, to sweet potatoes, to soybeans, corn, wheat
and other crops. Most of China's soybeans come from the US and Brazil,
possibly Argentina. There has been increased monocrop farming in Argentina,
soybeans, probably gmo and probably for export at the expense of the small,
traditional independent diversified and specialty farming sector and much
to their disappointment (was in the news years ago).

> Alfalfa is a great soil conditioner and is great protein for livestock but
> I
> follow the Mollison rule "never sell of the farm what can't walk off the
> farm".  To produce alfalfa as an export crop is essentially mining the soil
> for export, a form or strip mining, or clear cutting.  Unless the manure of
> the animals is returned to the soil then there is an annual net loss to
> soil
> fertility. Yet another reason that it is difficult to accomplish
> permaculture without animals.
> Ideally we grow crops with the least loss of biomass from the land;  That
> would be fruit and vegetables, or grains if the straw is chopped and
> reincorporated into the soil.

Deep nutrient mining crops like tall sweet clover (mellilotus alba) and
greater burdock should be
part of standard cropping schemes in small and large plantings. Interplant
other crops with these
for harvest and let them benefit from the fixed nitrogen and added
mineralization of the topsoil while
leaving behind plant residues as mulch and to increase soil OM. Alfalfa,
vetch, crimson clover, red
clover can be integrated.within crop rotation schemes interplanted and
succession planted with grasses and grains.
Use rye, lambs quarters, amaranth, burdock for biocontrol of weeds.


More information about the permaculture mailing list