Roundup Ready alfalfa can help control weeds

Planting roundup ready alfalfa can be one of the tools in controlling heavy weed invasions in pure stands of alfalfa. Farmers can plant roundup ready alfalfa starting in the spring of 2011.

Alfalfa is the major legume forage crop in the Midwest United States, and is produced for on-farm dairy and livestock feed and as a cash crop. There are 1.2 million acres of alfalfa fields in the Michigan. Roundup Ready alfalfa varieties offer a new option for weed removal during stand establishment and in established stands. Weed management systems which utilize glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) as the main method of weed control, could have potential benefits not previously observed with traditional practices.

It took nearly four years to get final approval for planting a Roundup Ready alfalfa (RRA) by the U.S Department of Agriculture in late January 2011, after several rounds of regulation, deregulation and re-regulation without conditions. Over the past several years, many debates took place regarding concerns of potential gene flow into conventional alfalfa fields and adverse effects on plants and animals including threatened or endangered species. With the USDA’s approval and announcement, farmers in the United States can plant RRA starting in the spring of 2011.

Planting RRA can be one of the tools in controlling heavy weed invasion that happens in typical alfalfa fields by using less herbicide, possibly resulting in less environmental impacts. RRA can kill grass if RRA is planted with grass in binary mixtures so that RRA should be planted as pure stands rather than alfalfa-grass mixtures. See the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Roundup Ready Alfalfa for more information. 

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