Growing alfalfa as a biomass crop isn't profitable now, Michael Russelle, a USDA-ARS soil scientist, told the audience at the National Alfalfa Symposium earlier this month. But growth in the fuel market has been "phenomenal" and alfalfa growers should be ready to take advantage of it. He cited several reasons why alfalfa should considered as a biomass crop along with corn, switchgrass, miscanthus and other crops.

Besides its well-developed infrastructure that includes breeding and manufacturing companies, university expertise and a ready transport system, alfalfa also is an environmentally friendly crop. It fixes its own nitrogen and that of future crops, improves soil organic matter and water quality and supports wildlife habitat, Russelle said.

He offered details on those advantages during his presentation. For an in-depth synopsis of his talk, visit: For other recaps of symposium presentations, visit: