Queen of Forages
Sometimes referred to as the “Queen of Forages”, alfalfa has played a key role in the development of North America. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) was originally discovered somewhere near Iran around 2000 B.C. The value of utilizing alfalfa for livestock feed has since been traced back in records as far back as 490 B.C. in Rome. From there, the hardy and high-quality legume made its way to Spain and quickly spread throughout Europe. Alfalfa was brought to North America in the early 1700’s by European settlers, and has continued to prove itself invaluable as one of our staple forage crops across the continent.
Our alfalfa is grown on fields that are either certified Organic by EcoCert Canada, or in transition. EcoCert Canada is accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and present in all Canadian provinces. The fields that have been under organic production practices for less than three years are labelled as “in transition”, and therefore all products of these fields cannot yet be certified organic. Pellets made from alfalfa harvested from transition fields are sold as “All Natural” until the three year mark has passed, after which the fields are inspected and can be certified.
Dehydrated alfalfa pellets are produced from local 100% alfalfa. The only additives for the growing alfalfa plants are natural rainfall and bountiful sunshine. Saskatchewan Canada is blessed with a wholesome climate and an abundance of land suitable for the production of high quality alfalfa forage. Alfalfa is cut at the late bud to early flowering stage ensuring a high quality product. Harvesting techniques ensure maximum retention of nutritious leaf material from the field to the Mill. The flash-heat process utilized to dehydrate the plant material “locks” in and preserves the available nutrients while eliminating any weed-seed viability in the end-processed 1/4″ alfalfa pellet.
Alfalfa is part of the legume (Fabacea sp.) family, which means that alfalfa plants bear their seeds in pods. In the plant world they are labelled as the “nitrogen fixers”, meaning that unlike cereals and other non-legume crops, they have nodules on their roots that harbor beneficial bacteria. These bacteria take atmospheric nitrogen (N2) and convert it to a form that is available for plant uptake (NH4+ or NO3-). This symbiotic relationship is completed when the bacteria make use of the protein, vitamins, amino acids, and other valuable minerals supplied by the legume. This relationship is not only good for the plants and bacteria, but helps restore the soil too.