We source our hay, alfalfa and other forage crops from local farmers who are situated near the plant. With the growing contract, we establish an agreement between The Ontario Forage Processor and local farmers to ensure we receive high-quality crops as well as support local family farms. The crops will be inspected in the fields by independent third party agronomists, as part of a quality confirmation program. These inspections are to guarantee the stand is weed, insect and disease free. The agronomists work closely with our field manager throughout the growing season.
Alfalfa is a perennial crop and can be harvested for three to five years and up to three times a year once it is established, therefore, we base our contract around the crops’ natural cycle. The contracts are typically established for three years to ensure a steady supply of raw material to the plant and to provide farmers with a secure market for their crop. The crops are evaluated upon delivery to the plant based on an established rating system. The Ontario Forage Processor only accepts high-quality crops to process at the plant and premium crops earn a higher return. Farmers can attend field management courses to assist in the production of high-quality crops and in practicing good land-stewardship.
Benefits of Having Alfalfa in a Crop-rotation
- Alfalfa has very deep roots, which collect water and assist in the drainage and filtration of the soil
- Alfalfa can reduce weed growth
- As forages grow taller and longer, their protein levels drop to a percentage that is ideal for horse feed, around 17%, and when the crops are harvested the stored nitrogen in the roots of the plants decompose and fertilize the soil. This reduces nitrogen fertilization costs as well as the energy costs necessary to apply it.
- Perennial crops have extensive root systems that contribute significant amounts of organic matter to the soil, which helps prevent erosion
- Improved soil quality, less tillage is needed