Lucerne or alfalfa is one of the oldest cultivated fodder crops. Roman writers described its value as feeds for horses and other animals as early as 490 BC. Lucerne has high palatability for all kinds of livestock as it provides nutritious fodder and possesses about 16-25% crude protein and 20-30% fiber. Due to its high protein and vitamin A content, it is included as a feed component for horses, cows and many other animals.

In India, Lucerne occupies one million hectare area and provides 60 to 130 tonnes of green forage/ha. It is grown as a farm crop in Punjab (13,554 acres), western districts of UP, Maharashtra (18400 acres), Gujarat (19,900 acres), Tamil Nadu and WB. After sorghum and berseem, Lucerne is 3rd important forage crop in India.

Botanical Description

  • Mostly erect to sub-erect perennial herbs, 30-60 cm, pubescent to subglabrous.
  • Leaflets 5-20 mm long, 3-10 mm broad, obovate to sublinear.
  • Inflorescence a peduncled raceme.
  • Calyx teeth as long as the tube
  • Corolla 6-12 mm long, violet to pale lavender.
  • Fruit falcate or in a loose spiral of 1-4 turns, glabrous to appressed pilose, 10-20 seeded.

Nutritional value

CrudeProtein, 17.0 %
Total Dig. Nutrients 61.0 %
Crude Fibre 28.0 %
Acid Det. Fibre 35.0 %
Calcium 1.50 %
Phosphorus 0.21 %
Potassium 2.35 %
Magnesium 0.32 %
Manganese 34.0 mg/kg
Zinc 21.0 mg/kg
Copper 11.0 mg/kg
Selenium 0.35 mg/kg