Source: Ontario Farmer, Novmber 22, 2016
For some time now, Dr. Tarlok Singh Sahota has main-tained that Galega could be a good alternative to alfalfa for livestock producers. This year’s plot results at the Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Station seem to back up that argument. Sahota, the station’s research manager, reports that Galega seeded at 25 kg/ha produced 6,375 kg/ha or one MT/ha higher dry matter yield than alfalfa (5,317 kg/ha) in two cuts. Seeded at 35 kgs Galega pro-duced 8,391 kg/ha or three MT/ha more than alfalfa. When the latter rate was inter-seeded with berseem clo-ver at 13 kg/ha in previous years it helped raise the Galega yield this year to 8,879 kg/ha, he reports. However, the protein content in Galega wasn’t affected by berseem.On the quality side, the pro-tein content in Galega, both in the first and the second cut, was up to 2.4-3.3 percentage points higher than alfalfa. Sahota explains that this crop. akso called oriental goat’s rue, is a perennial forage legume from Scandinavia though it’s believed to be native to the Caucasus region between the Black and the Caspian seas. It grew wild in the meadows and more open forests of the Caucasus and it was introduced to the Baltic countries, Scandi-navia and north-west Russia. Its violet blue flowers have quality nectar that attracts hon-eybees. Like Sainfoin, it is a good honey plant, he says.In terms of agronomics, Sahota says Galega has been reported to perform best on deep, loamy and well-drained friable soils though it could probably do well on a wider variety of sites. “We had Galega flourishing well in our slightly acidic to neutral tile drained soils at the research station. We have found that Galega was more winter hardy and persistent than alfalfa and much faster to grow in early spring than alfalfa.”He also says the rapid growth rate of Galega in early spring helps it to outcompete dandelions, even in older stands. Another plus: “it has a dense, long retained canopy and its stem isn’t as hard as that of alfalfa; as a result its quality doesn’t come down as rapidly as alfalfa after first bloom.”He believes it could make a good quality feed for live-stock, especially for dairy cows. “It may be grown as hay or silage and cut twice in northwestern Ontario and probably three to four times in eastern/southern Ontario and Quebec.”At present, Gale, released jointly by Estonian and Rus-sian plant breeders, is the only variety in cultivation. It has to be imported. Sahota says his seed source has been Timo Mäkinen at Naturcom Ltd in Finland, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.