For the second consecutive year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has allocated dollars for alfalfa research to the tune of $1.2 million. The Alfalfa and Forage Research Program (AFRP) was created to support integrated, collaborative research and technology transfer to improve the efficiency and sustainability of alfalfa forage and seed production systems.

Compared to other major crops, $1.2 million is small potatoes, but it's better than nothing, which is what got designated for alfalfa prior to 2014. That's when the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA) was successful in securing AFRP authorizing language in the farm bill to secure a $1.35 million appropriation in the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years.

In 2015, the following projects were awarded funding:

AFRP Project TitleLead Institution/Collaborators
Re-establishing IPM Recommendations for Aphids
in Alfalfa Hay in the Low Desert
University of Arizona/
California, Utah
Developing Molecular Markers for Enhancing Resistance
to Drought and High Salinity in Alfalfa
USDA-ARS California/
New York, Utah
Potato Leafhopper Threshold Revised for Alfalfa Host
Resistance and Alfalfa Grass Mixtures
University of Maryland/
Ohio, Wisconsin
Impact of Microbial Inoculants on the Quality and
Fermentation Stability of Alfalfa Round-Bale Baleage
Mississippi State Univ./
Georgia, Wisconsin
Management Tools to Improve Forage Quality and
Persistence of Alfalfa
Cornell University/
Minnesota, Kentucky
Subsurface Drip Irrigation, Deficit Irrigation
University of California/
Arizona, New Mexico
Strategies, and Improved Varieties to Improve Alfalfa Water
Use Efficiency Under Drought Conditions
Arizona, New Mexico

AFRP funds are collaborative, which means that each project must include cooperators in at least three states as a requirement of funding. Researchers from 13 states will share in 2015 funding.