Table of Contents
Alfalfa bales are undoubtedly one of the most beneficial raw materials when it comes to exporting, due to the large number of varieties and the economic performance they have. And it is by default one of the noblest and easiest grasses to transport and market.
Are you looking to buy hay without all the hassle and complications? Do you want to make a good deal and keep costs down by acquiring high quality alfalfa and pellets?
In this article we are going to show you everything you need to know about alfalfa, its production, varieties grown in Argentina and much more. You will be able to make the best decision based on all the information we will present here!
Alfalfa production in Argentina
Today, alfalfa is considered one of the forages of excellence, the queen of forages.
It can be marketed in different formats, either in bales, mega-bales, mini-bales or pellets.
The average production of alfalfa or hay in Argentina is 2000 to 3000 kilograms of dry matter per hectare cultivated and per cut made.
Although it is very important to emphasize that everything will depend on the fertility of the pre-existing soil and rainfall in each region, being able to make up to 7 cuts when general conditions are favorable.
The digestibility of the forage produced can range from 65% to 60%, and depends mainly on the age of regrowth. The crude protein content varies from 21% to 25%, also depending on the age of the sprout and the fertility of the soil where it is planted, so we can conclude that the higher the amount of nitrogen in the soil, the higher the protein content of the forage and, therefore, the greater the animal response.
Alfalfa production occurs mainly in regions such as the south of the province of Córdoba, La Pampa, Río Negro and Neuquén, which many years ago were considered complicated for the sowing of this product and for some years now, by efficiently managing irrigation, together with advances in logistics, systematizations, improvements in the area of machinery and modern varieties of alfalfa that exist today in Argentina, very efficient results can be obtained in terms of hay production. The irrigation modality is carried out by blanket or flooding with high quality water, in order to obtain quality hay.
Some alfalfa plots are sown over the previous onion crop, where the residual fertilizer that was used is used. But seeding is also done on land without previous crops for three or four years without base fertilization at the time of seed placement.
In general, with conventional seeding, less coverage is obtained, there is more temperature in the soil and availability of nutrients, and these are conditions that favor base development, and require more care in seeding depth and weed control present in the soil or sowing.
Direct seeding has advantages with respect to water and weed management and depth control, but in general the soils have greater coverage, less initial growth is achieved and soil insects are much more affected.
Planting in rows is a general practice, and it is recommended to use the smallest possible spacing to achieve a better distribution of plants and use of space (i.e. land for cultivation).
Aphids and thrips are the most important pests in planting, not counting weeds or grass. They cause significant seedling losses. It is therefore necessary to monitor crops frequently to make insecticide applications when the presence of these pests is detected, even when treated seed has been sown, as there may be re-infections without realizing it.
Broadcast alfalfa sowing time
Sowing hay on the right date is one of the main factors to obtain a good implantation and later forage production, considering of course the temperature, humidity of the soil and number of hours of light (sunlight). The best conditions for Argentina are during the months of March and April.
A delay in the appropriate sowing date would cause alfalfa to enter the winter with little root development and less possibility of defending itself against non-optimal weather conditions. A second planting season can be carried out in the spring, after the first rains, in September and October.
Alfalfa seeding density
The seed to be used for sowing must be of excellent quality of origin and must be inoculated using Rhizobium melilotti for a better natural uptake of nitrogen from the environment.
The recommended seeding density for this type of grass is 10 to 12 kg of seed per hectare available for this purpose, which should be deposited at a depth of no more than 2 centimeters.
The seed to be used must be of good quality and must be inoculated with Rhizobium melilotti for a better natural uptake of environmental nitrogen. The recommended sowing density is 10 to 12 kg of seed per hectare, which should be deposited at a depth of no more than 2 cm.
Alfalfa is usually sown pure, and it is most likely to be done on land prepared in advance, but it can also be done in direct sowing and without advance work on the hectares.
After sowing and treatment, the production obtained is on average 12 rolls of alfalfa per hectare per cut.
Per year between 5 and 6 cuts are made and generally the variety of seeds gives for more production with a good fertilization management.
Main alfalfa export countries
– Saudi Arabia
It is important to note that countries that buy alfalfa from other origins have little availability of their own water for this type of planting. For this reason, another business niche for alfalfa exports is Saudi Arabia, since practically nothing grows in its desert lands.
– Arab Emirates
In the case of the Arab Emirates, the main features of this country that demand Argentine alfalfa are its low availability of drinking water and its large volumes of dairy production (milk).
This context denotes the international importance of the hay production business and Argentina’s great potential to become a key player in this business, which has a significant and growing demand that is increasingly unsatisfied by the world market.
Bolivia is an importer of Argentine alfalfa, which it uses to feed its own cattle. On the other hand, buyers from the neighboring country market hay bales with producers from different dairy cooperatives in the region in different forms, but mainly in bales and mega-bales.
– Aruba and Central America
The island of Aruba is one of Argentina’s most important buyers of recompacted alfalfa. The objective is to lower costs and achieve competitiveness in its local market by purchasing this exceptional quality forage.
As an example, a company from Córdoba sold hay to this region with a distinctive aspect in the commercial format: “mini-bales” that have 0.07 cubic meters, i.e. half the volume of a traditional bale that has a volume of 0.14 cubic meters. They do so by means of a special compacting process carried out with a press.
– Japan, China and Korea
The world alfalfa market has tripled in the last 15 years and one of the main export destinations has been China, Japan and Korea. It is important to note that China does not accept “GMO”, so the seeds must be free. Japan, on the other hand, has tolerance when importing recompacted alfalfa.
Alfalfa recompaction process
The process of recompaction of alfalfa bales reduces the volume and size of common alfalfa bales by 50 percent while preserving their original weight and quality, of course.
There are also “supercompacting” presses with three pistons, which are driven by a 15 hp and 11 kw electric motor, which in only 50 seconds reduces the alfalfa bale to less than half its original size, while maintaining its weight and allowing a more agile and maneuverable packaging, distribution and commercialization.
Approximate weight of alfalfa rolls
A first quality alfalfa roll weighs approximately 900-950 kilos. A mega bale 750/800 kilos and a mini bale, in Argentina, weighs about 21 kg, while those from the United States, known as binoculars, weigh up to 1,000 kg in comparison.
How many bales of alfalfa fit on a truck?
A truck can carry between 850 and 900 bales of alfalfa. The quantity, of course, may vary depending on weather conditions, truck dimensions, the compactor used for this process and other factors.
Alfalfa pelleting process – Pellets
Alfalfa pellets are a source of vitamins and minerals and are also highly palatable. It is mainly used for feeding small ruminants, pigs, horses, rabbits and poultry.
Pellets are the result of a dehydration process that can be performed on alfalfa. A pellet is obtained by grinding/shredding a roll of raw material, where both the stem and the leaf are part of the milling, seeking to avoid the loss of leaves. Another characteristic is that by compacting and pressing, the volume of the bale is reduced up to 4 times.
What are the advantages of alfalfa pellets?
- Balanced supply of nutrients: proteins, phosphorus, calcium, vitamins, among others. Increases the digestibility of dry grass.
- The animal’s consumption can be controlled.
- It is used as a protein supplement, since it can be accompanied by other supplements.
- It is possible to optimize its storage, transfer, transportation and all the associated logistics, as well as to load more kilos per container.
- The animals that consume it are: from cattle, horses, to poultry, goats, among others.
- It has more durability, because it can be stored and, being compacted, its color, aroma and flavor can be better preserved.
Characteristics and varieties of alfalfa in Argentina
In cleared or already used soils, alfalfa is sown not only in groups with intermediate dormancy as occurs with group 6, but also showed excellent performance alfalfa groups 8 and 9.
The main alfalfa varieties are:
- Cal/West 194 alfalfas (Group 9).
- Cal/West 194 Premium alfalfas (Group 9)
- Cal/West 197 alfalfas (Group 9)
- Cal/West Alfalfas 660 (Group 6)
- Cal/West Alfalfas 809 (Group 8)
Alfalfa is an evergreen plant, with an erect structure, growing from 30 to 60 cm in height.
Its color is green with gray tones. Its main characteristics are:
- Root. Its root is pivotal, robust, long and deep, with many secondary roots, which allow it to absorb minerals away from the surface of the earth.
- Stems. They are thin and straight. They support well the weight of the leaves and inflorescences, and are stable, which makes the plant very suitable for planting.
- Leaves. Its leaves are oval in format, and the first true leaves are unifoliolate. The edges are smooth and slightly toothed.
- Flowers. They are reduced in size and grow in clusters that arise at the base of the leaves. They are of a pale violet color, although sometimes they are shown with red and even white tones.
- Fruit. It does not open spontaneously when it reaches adulthood, to release the seeds inside. It has no thorns and has 2 to 6 yellow seeds, kidney-shaped and with a length of 1.5 to 2.5 mm.
Price for export of alfalfa bales
If you want to know the price of alfalfa in Argentina, please contact us by clicking here, so we can provide you with more details, costs and all the necessary details to be able to export both seeds and hay.
Specific benefits offered by argentine alfalfa
The production of mega bales and bales are the activities that provide the best economic results because it is a noble raw material, of high quality and that allows export to any part of the world for different purposes.
On the other hand, alfalfa as a plant has the following benefits:
- It has vitamins of group B (B1, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) and vitamins C, D, E, K and P,
- Regarding minerals such as calcium, the ranges vary between 180.9 mg and 986 mg; and regarding iron, between 1.9 mg and 21.5 mg.
- It has a high nutritional value due to its calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, zinc, etc. content.
- It is an important source of vegetable protein.
- It is antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory due to its flavonoid and phytosterol content.
Do you need to find alfalfa exporters in Argentina?
Look no further! We can help you and simplify your search for alfalfa producers in Argentina quickly and easily.
Don’t think about paperwork, delays or slow processes, we can help you with everything you need to find hay exporters! Just click here, leave us your details and a consultant will contact you shortly to provide you with all the detailed information you may need.