Alfalfa is an essential and valuable crop in modern agriculture, contributing significantly to animal husbandry and sustainable farming practices. It is scientifically known as Medicago sativa and is a perennial flowering plant belonging to the legume family (Fabaceae). It is widely cultivated as a forage crop, primarily used for feeding livestock such as cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. Alfalfa is also known as lucerne in some regions.
When it comes to alfalfa forage, the quality can be affected by different factors like the growth stage when it is harvested, the drying process, and how the silage or hay is stored. It’s important to use the right harvesting technique to maintain high-quality forage and preserve as many nutrients as possible. To avoid losing the protein found in tender leaves, special care must be taken during harvesting. Stems, on the other hand, are tougher and can be partly woody, which means that they lose moisture at a slower rate than the leaves.
For this reason, mowers with a rubber roller conditioner are used. The rubber rollers compress the alfalfa stems lengthwise, opening them in several places and thus allowing a faster loss of moisture without damaging the delicate leaves.
Raking is also a very important step in alfalfa harvesting. This is because it’s during this stage that the forage can lose the most leaves and take in the most impurities. It’s important to rake gently and evenly and to avoid introducing any soil, sand, or stones into the forage. To achieve this, we recommend using pick-up rakes for alfalfa harvesting. These rakes lift the forage from the ground and place it into the swath through a conveyor belt. The picking mechanism is designed to prevent impurities from getting into the forage. Additionally, these rakes have a much higher capacity compared to conventional ones. This means that the forage can be harvested in less time, reducing the time it’s left in the field and ultimately improving its quality.
SIP is a grassland harvesting specialist that offers a variety of machinery for optimum harvesting of alfalfa forage. These include front, side, double combination, and HD disc mowers DISC RC with rubber roller conditioners, as well as front and trailed pick-up rakes AIR. These machines are specifically designed to harvest high-quality forage, which can help increase milk and meat production and overall yields on your farm.
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