A 15 year old perennial crop of organic Prime Sainfoin
Prime Sainfoin is an ancient
forage traditionally known as “healthy hay”.
Because it does not respond well to fertilizers it became sidelined
by the commercial chemical era. It
is not a human food, but its environmental benefits can manifest in
healthy meat and dairy products and the breathtaking beauty of a flowering
field of sainfoin can be envisioned as “food for the soul”.
Prime Einkorn originated from
Russia and is the natural selection of 30 years of organic growing in
Canadian Prairie conditions.
is a perennial legume forage similar to alfalfa.
A most important feature is that it is bloat
free. The tannins that make it bloat free, also make it an
excellent fodder for young livestock because it has anti-parasite effects.
Canadian forage researchers recognize that tannins can improve
protein use and inhibit E.coli in manure and are also looking at its role
in reducing methane gas emissions and improving feed efficiency.
Similar research on Sainfoin has started in Europe and the UK.
) Similarly, current research
in Hungary is testing functional feed in organic husbandry to improve the
quality of meat and dairy products. (Agricultural Research Institute of
the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
Saifoin does best in well drained
soils and rich, lowland should be avoided.
It is quite drought tolerant.
Sainfoin is highly palatable,
preferred over alfalfa by all livestock and has better digestibility.
It is more winter hardy and starts growth earlier in the spring
often out yielding alfalfa. Re-growth
is good but lower than alfalfa.
Longevity is good, depending upon the soil and conditions with some
established fields producing well after 10 and even 20 years. The
USDA Plant Guide states that some plantings have survived for 60 years.
There is no threat of genetically
modified contamination because Sainfoin is already naturally resistant to
Roundup and many chemicals, and does not cross with alfalfa.
Sainfoin is highly attractive to
pollinating insects, particularly honey bees and makes excellent honey.
It is not considered invasive.
It is unaffected by alfalfa weevils.
For pure stands, 30-40 pounds/acre
are recommended, while mixes can have 10-20 pounds/acre.
Bunch grasses such as meadow brome, Russian wild rye and crested
wheat grass are recommended with sainfoin. Spring
seeding is recommended.
seeding is imperative. It
can be drilled or broadcast. Successful
stands of Sainfoin have even been simply broadcast into standing crops and
established forage, but establishment is
naturally slower under such adverse conditions.