Farming is an ever-changing and challenging business. By this time of year, crop outcomes are mostly out of our hands. Being organic, operations at Otter Creek Farms are always intense, from planting time all the way up until the window for weed control passes.
In southwestern Wisconsin, organic production got off to a poor start with all the rain and cold. However, the last ten days in May were great, and the crops are looking good.
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.
When Gary Zimmer was first looking for a calcium-based product to improve his soil quality, he discovered Bio-Cal®. He noticed remarkable improvements to his soil quality, as well as forage yield and quality, soon after the first application to his hay fields. Bio-Cal is now known for its proven benefits for yield and quality on forages and is also an excellent soil conditioner that improves water infiltration and soil structure – benefits that any crop can take advantage of!
With low commodity prices and high organic crop prices, transitioning to organic can look awfully appealing. But is organic really right for you? Successful organic farming takes good soils and a different mindset than conventional farming. Are you, and your soil, ready to go organic?
Below are a few things to consider when assessing whether transitioning to organic is a good fit for your farm:
Are my soils healthy, with a lot of organic matter and good nutrient cycling?
Healthy, productive soils have large pools of stable soil organic matter. Soil organic matter (SOM) is key to plant drought resistance and sustainable food production. Understanding how to build and maintain soil organic matter is key to achieving high crop yields, while also maintaining healthy soil structure and reducing nutrient loss.
Soil Microbes & SOM Formation
Research done at the University of New Hampshire is shedding new light on the role that microbes play in the formation of soil organic matter.
Last year, Midwestern BioAg conducted a survey to help evaluate our customer service and products. Survey participants were chosen at random, and over 360 customers responded. We gained key insight into areas where we can improve administratively, and also gained better understanding of what matters most to our customers. From the analysis, a few key findings emerged:
- Soil heath matters. A majority of our customers reported that they do business with us to improve soil health on their farms.
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 …
Calcium plays a vital role in plant growth, specifically cell wall formation, cell division and pollination. It also signals plants to respond to drought and heat stress, activates many plant enzyme systems and helps plants absorb other nutrients. Calcium also promotes healthy soil structure by loosening soils and stabilizing organic matter, which increases soil water- and nutrient-holding capacity.
When evaluating calcium needs on your farm, we recommend looking at three key factors on your soil test:
- Soil pH,
- Cation exchange capacity (CEC), …
A hardy perennial crop, alfalfa typically overwinters in the Midwest well. However, a variety of environmental and management factors can have big impacts on a stand’s ability to overwinter successfully. Understanding these factors and how to manage them can help increase stand life and yield potential.
What is Winter Injury?
Winter injury can occur for a variety of reasons, but lack of snow cover and unusual freeze-thaw cycles are two of the most common causes. “Alfalfa plants can typically tolerate three weeks of winter injury before …
Findings from a 2016 University of Nebraska-Lincoln study show TerraNu fertilizers have a comparable impact on corn yields as other types of manure and anaerobically digested organic matter. The study tracked the impact of various sources of organic-matter based material, including bio-solids, poultry manure and feedlot manure. The advantage of TerraNu fertilizer is that it is much lighter than manure, storable and easy to transport, and supplies a guaranteed nutrient analysis in every granule for precision application.