Larsen talks economic returns on steam technology in alfalfa

Utah State University Associate Professor Ryan Larsen broke down the economic returns of using steam technology to produce quality alfalfa during the virtual Alfalfa U, March 4.

Larsen explained research looking at the addition of steam tech as well as touched on the economics behind the many choices an alfalfa producer has to make. He said there’s a number of things to do before deciding whether or not to invest in a new technology for alfalfa. Hard questions have to be asked along with a true analysis of all factors considered—including the budget.

In the past Larsen has worked with unmanned aerial vehicle drones and genetic technologies. These are what he’d classify as “risk reducing technologies.”

Risk reducing technologies like UAVs and drones help producers make better choices when it comes to fertilizer and pest control, Larsen said, “But in the end what that information is doing is helping us make better decisions to reduce our risk.”

When Larsen analyzes these technologies, he looks at the quality risk side and if it coincides with the change in price risk, as alfalfa is very sensitive to pricing because of quality changes.

Yield or production risk comes down to managing stems and leaves, thus improving the quality of the yield able to be baled. This is influenced by the baling window.

It’s all a balancing act and no one size fits all.

Larsen never thought this type of technology would be available to alfalfa.

“But it’s here and it really changes the way we view how to make an alfalfa operation more profitable,” he said. “As you think about what the right answer is, it really depends on your situation.”

To watch Larsen’s full presentation, and the rest of the Alfalfa U sessions, visit The event was sponsored by John Deere, Alforex Seeds, Ward Labs, Staheli West, American Ag Credit, Harvest Tec and High Plains Journal.

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or [email protected].