A new online alfalfa evaluation tool will be launched by the Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association (N.A.M.A.) at the Mid-America Alfalfa Expo & Conference, to be held Feb. 7-8 at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds in Kearney, NE.

“The evaluation tool allows users to calculate a sound value of their alfalfa based on a nutrient-comparable basis or a market-comparable basis,” says Kyle Lechtenberg of Spencer, NE, a N.A.M.A. board member who is helping to develop the tool. “The goal is to have a specific value for buyers and sellers to use as a starting point when marketing alfalfa, instead of simply asking neighbors or coming up with a ballpark guess.”

Lechtenberg says the nutrient-comparable-basis model allows users to input current prices of corn and soybean meal. The formula then provides a value of the alfalfa on a comparable nutrient basis. The market-based model, however, uses USDA hay-price reports. It then adjusts those values based on the natural tendency of buyers to pay more for higher-quality hay and less for lower-grade commodity hay.

“It will be possible to have both models weighted to get an average of the two,” he says. “This is useful in years like this when the market-basis model shows a higher value than the nutrient-basis model because of short hay supplies. It’s really a great tool that will benefit buyers and sellers alike.”

Lechtenberg says the model will be explained in detail at the conference and he encourages those interested in learning more to attend. He says the tool is designed for N.A.M.A. members and will be accessible through its Web site, nebraska-alfalfa.com.

Sponsored by N.A.M.A., the Mid-America Alfalfa Expo & Conference is designed for alfalfa producers, livestock/dairy producers and others involved in alfalfa production, purchasing, hay feeding or processing. Presenters will include Al Dutcher, Nebraska climatologist, who will discuss weather patterns and forecasts for the coming crop year; Ron Hansen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln ag economist, who will provide a session on multigenerational family farm ownership; Rick Rasby, University of Nebraska-Lincoln cattle feeding expert, who will focus on nutritional information for cow-calf producers; and Trent Loos, well-known commentator, columnist and ag advocate.

Registration includes admission to all presentations and programs, a Tuesday afternoon reception, dinner that evening, admission to an alfalfa industry trade show and the opportunity to bid in a Tuesday afternoon fundraising auction. The auction will feature seed, harvesting equipment, supplies and other products and services.

Registration is $10 per person in advance (tickets must be purchased by noon Feb. 3) and $20 at the door. Attendees under age 18 will be admitted free. For more information, call 800-743-1649 or visit www.alfalfaexpo.com.