You may be ready to see green grass and be done with winter, but are our pastures ready? Before the ground thaws (unless sloped) is a good time to fertilize or apply soil correctives to the paddocks that didn’t get tended to last fall. It is time to check fences, and as it warms and greens up, water lines, lane condition, and pasture stand.
Evaluate The Stand
How did it come through the drought and winter?
How have your forages fared in the unpredictable Midwest winter weather? Winter weather in the Midwest is unpredictable to say the least. Bitter cold, mid-winter rain, and extreme freeze-thaw cycles may have taken their toll. Use the prime times in April and May to evaluate your alfalfa fields. Are they going to be healthy, high-producing forage stands? Or is rotation the best option for maximum farm yield?
Tips for Evaluating Your Alfalfa Stands:
- Healthy alfalfa stands will green up quickly & evenly.
After seeing the success of a neighboring farm using the Midwestern BioAg program, Minnesota-based farmer, Darrell Luhman, decided to try the BioAg Way.
Reluctant at first, he split-tested his hay – applying BioAg product on only half of his hay field. He baled the hay off and was soon visited by his BioAg consultant who requested an experiment. Together, Luhman and his consultant, threw down two bales of hay, one from each side of the field.
Paul Burrs, a first-generation farmer from Northern Illinois, who owns and operates Hickory Ridge Farm, found his testimony for Midwestern BioAg this year. “Midwestern BioAg is going to fit well with what I need in the future,” said Burrs.
Burrs grew up working on a local farm throughout high school where he dug into his passion for agriculture and found his employer to be instrumental in helping him start his career. Upon graduating high school, Burrs went on to study agronomy at Illinois State University.
Usually, our first thought when we see a bug in a field is a pest. Pests can kill, defoliate, and consume entire leaves. If there is an abundance of pests they can do a bunch of damage to an entire field and drastically lower the yield of the field. There are many common pests to watch out for. A common practice to eliminate these pests is using pesticides. Unfortunately, there can be many negative effects when using pesticides.
Calcium: The Trucker of All Nutrients
First, we need to start in the soil. Calcium has many roles in the soil. Calcium aids in maintaining soil physical properties, and in reclaiming sodic soils. Calcium contributes to soil fertility by helping maintain a flocculated clay and therefore provides more aeration. Soil structure and water holding capacity are improved when soils are rich in calcium. Calcium also stimulates the growth of beneficial soil microorganisms, including nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and helps counteract toxins in the soil and in the plant.
Spring Alfalfa Stand
Spring is here and if you look out into the fields, you will start to see some green popping up. Now is time to assess the alfalfa stand condition. First, you will need a square to measure a square foot; as in the picture below.
Just plop this down in a couple of random spots throughout the field and start counting. One way to count the alfalfa stand condition is to count the individual plant.
The most important question you need to ask yourself if you are interested in planting alfalfa this fall is the following: What do I want to obtain from this alfalfa? Answering that question leads us to these case scenarios:
Seeding alfalfa as a forage crop in new fields
The most important decision when establishing a new alfalfa field is variety selection. A good variety not only guarantees better yield and forage quality but it also helps with crop establishment and crop management.
Forage test components and benchmarks have changed considerably over the years. In this Q&A, we sat down with Midwestern BioAg’s Director of Nutrition Dave Meidl to gain a deeper understanding of forage test components and how test results can be used to inform management decisions on dairy farms.
Q: How can I use trace mineral data from my forage test to improve results on my farm?
Plants have the unique ability to transform inorganic minerals from the soil or fertilizer into organic, highly available …