Alfalfa Establishment and Value Question

Help Support CattleToday:

Stocker Steve

Well-known member
May 2, 2005
Reaction score
Central Minnesota
Three years ago I wrote up a budget, ordered six semis of lime for the first application, rented a back hoe, and started to convert some newly purchased rocky quack grass pastures to an alfalfa grass mix. Since then most inputs costs have jumped up every year, and this ground had a ph in the high 5s and no fertilizer for decades. This spring I was quoted $40/T for lime and $750/T for K.

Looking back my establishment cost w/o labor was about $332/acre - - and the new seeding needs another shot of K, boron, sulfur this summer. i would like to think that with some red clover frost seeding this stand will last for 5 or 6 years. Even so this makes for some fairly expensive forage. In hindsight, I do need a lot of legume content for the stockers but... I could have seeded a steep droughty ridge to alfalfa and went for a lower cost clover mix on the rest.

Am I missing some alfalfa value, or is it just too spendy with the current input costs except for special soil situations or dairy operations?
I have had same considerations as far as soil ammendments so went ahead and put clover and birdfoot trefoil on the lower PH sites. Am starting to consider grasses more now that K is so high and N has dropped. My lime prices are still way lower then yours, we are at $4/ton delivered and I have been applying myself using my manure spreader. I have been hearing from other parts of the country about high lime prices. My lime is a by product of the water treatment lime so the guy who has the contract to excavate the treatment pits has to do something with it but the Dolomitic in my area is still low also. Those establishment cost you for alfalfa are still pretty much on target for almost any alfalfa stand. Alot of my alfalfa is sold and then at times I buy cheaper hay in less marketable packages for my cows. Your cost have to be pretty close to $100 per ton on a three year depreciation on the field.

Latest posts