Agronomic Legume

Cicer Milkvetch

Cicer milkvetch is a palatable, non-bloating, perennial legume. The name comes from the belief that goat’s milk supply was increased from eating vetches. It does not accumulate toxic levels of selenium, unlike many of the other milkvetches or “loco weed.”

Alfalfa

Alfalfa is the most widely used perennial, cool season agronomic legume, and is adapted to many regions and uses. It is palatable for livestock but can cause bloat if not managed carefully.

Alsike Clover

Alsike clover is a fast-growing, short-lived perennial clover, intermediate between white and red clover. Most commonly, diploid varieties are grown in Western Canada, but there are also tetraploid types (double the number of chromosomes with taller plants, larger leaves, and flowers).

Red Clover

Red clover is an introduced, commonly grown, tap-rooted, short-lived perennial legume. It can thrive in cooler temperatures and more acidic soils than alfalfa. It has deep tap roots that develop from a shallow, narrow crown, though not as deep as alfalfa, therefore reducing its drought tolerance.

White Clover

White clover is widely distributed, especially in cool temperate climates. The plant has stolons or creeping stems near the soil surface. Leaves, flowers, and roots grow directly from these stolons. It is a relatively short plant with indeterminate growth, although taller types can grow up to 25 cm (10 in).The common or white Dutch is small and low growing, while the large type (e.g., Ladino) can be four times larger than the common type. Intermediate types have characteristics that are a mix of the two forms, and are commonly used for pasture.

Common Vetch

Common vetch is a cool season, winter annual legume that is often used as a green manure crop or in pasture mixes. It is sometimes referred to as garden vetch. It has a taproot that can grow 100 to 175 cm (39 to 70 in.) deep, and prolific smaller roots in the upper 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 in.) of the soil.

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Birdsfoot trefoil is a perennial legume that does not cause bloat in grazing ruminant animals. It is highly adapted to grow in a range of challenging conditions including infertile soils, soils with high acidity or poor drainage, and poorly prepared seed beds.

It has a wide crown and taproot, intermediate in depth between alfalfa and red clover. Roots sometimes develop from older stems that have soil contact. It requires its own specific Rhizobium loti inoculant to fix nitrogen.

Sainfoin

Sainfoin is a drought tolerant, relatively short-lived, deep-rooted, non-bloating perennial legume. It can be useful in grazing systems because it is non-bloating and maintains good forage quality for late-season grazing or stockpiling. It may have a place in site rehabilitation and reclamation situations as it will grow on high pH, alkaline, thin, or gravelly soils. It is resistant to several diseases that threaten alfalfa productivity.

Hairy Vetch

Hairy vetch is an annual or biennial, hardy, cool season agronomic legume, also commonly referred to as fodder vetch, winter vetch, or sand vetch. It has a weak tap root that grows up to 60 to 90 cm (24 to 35 in.) with many side branches in the top 20 cm (8 in.), and is known as an excellent nitrogen fixer.

Hairy vetch has long trailing stems from 50 to 200 cm (20 to 79 in.) long. Stems are hairy and grow 1 to 3 cm (1/2 to 1 ¼ in.)long leaves on one side of the stem. There are 10 to 20 alternate, oblong leaflets per leaf, with branching tendrils at the ends.

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