It’s All About Getting Your Fertility Right

“Profitability.” That’s the most important thing Midwestern BioAg has brought to the Fairibault, MN farming operation of Bryan and Tammy Lips, says Bryan. Balanced soils, good fertility, and diverse rotations including cover crops and green manure crops are among the biological farming tools Bryan has been using for the past eight years on his 450 acres. He raises corn, oats, and alfalfa on a mixture of owned and rented land, with about half of the acres farmed conventionally and half certified organic. He raises some beef cattle and recently added a few hogs for local sale.

But whatever crops you grow, or whatever your farming style, “It’s all about getting your fertility right,” Bryan says. Balanced soils aid not just in yield and quality, but in weed and pest control, he’s observed. And all of those things make positive contributions to a farmer’s bottom line.

Even in challenging years, like the summer of 2013, good biological soils still produce well. Bryan relates the story of one of his organic fields that had been in alfalfa for three years. He plowed down the foot tall alfalfa and planted on June 4 (a late date due to Minnesota’s very wet spring). Despite the cool summer, that field yielded 190 bu/acre after dry down.


“It’s all about getting your fertility right,” Bryan says.


Another of his hay fields was damaged by winter kill, a common occurrence last year in his area, and required a change in plans. Bryan took off a crop of hay, then plowed down the poor stand around the first of August. Next, he “threw the kitchen sink at it,” putting in a cover crop mixture of peas, oats, winter rye, crimson clover and radishes. Bryan then pastured 40 head of beef cattle on the field from September 1 until December 1, so that the land got the benefit of the manure along with an application of chicken manure pellets.  This spring he’ll run the field cultivator over the ground twice, a practice he likes because it’s kind to the soil, doesn’t tear up the land, and limits wind and water erosion.  “It was an incredible experiment,” he says enthusiastically of this ground, and is looking forward to this year’s crop. “I’m really excited to see what that field is going to do.”


Small grains are an important part of Bryan’s rotation. One example of a rotation he has used is to sow oats in the spring as a cash crop, under seeded with a crop of alfalfa. “You don’t need a lot of fertility for oats,” he reminds. He likes to leave the straw on the field after harvesting the grain, but Bryan notes that it’s also an in-demand crop as well. He may also get a cutting of alfalfa off the new stand. The following two years it’s a hay field. In the fourth year, Bryan plows down the alfalfa as a green manure crop for the many benefits it provides, including, but certainly not limited to, nitrogen. Following that green manure crop, “It’s the nicest, most beautiful soil you’ve seen. It’s like walking in cotton.” Bryan then grows a year or two of corn before another crop of oats, under seeded with alfalfa, clover, radishes or turnips as a green manure crop. He prefers to have cover crops on soils over the winter. “You can’t imagine how good that is for the soil.”


Bryan uses Midwestern BioAg fertilizer and OrganiCal on his organic hay fields. “That makes hay!” MBA starter fertilizers are also applied to his corn acres. MBA’s molasses based fertilizers are a recent addition. Seeing excellent results last year, he’ll be putting TerraFed on all his acres in 2014. “Every plant grows,” he observed. “It gets the biological ‘magic’ working. The soil is warmed up and it gives that burst of sugar” to get the crop off to a fast start. He’s also going to apply TerraFed to his hay fields this summer, as well. “Alfalfa just loves that sugar.”

Weed control
Bryan sprays his conventional acres, and cultivates his organic ground. Weeds, however, aren’t a big worry. “Get your fertility in order and you’ll have less weed problems,” is his experience. “Balance that soil…and there’ll be less weed pressure, and they’ll be easier to control.”

Bryan uses guidance on his tractors and has also recently started using grid sampling on his farming operation. He gives both an enthusiastic thumbs up. “It’s an up and coming thing,” he says of the grid sampling. “You can correct your soil in the most efficient and economical way.” The mapping “pays for itself by putting the fertility where it needs to be. Put (input dollars) where it’s needed and don’t waste it. That’s the way to go.”Bryan and Tammy work with consultant Mike Lovlien, and appreciate the efforts Mike and Midwestern BioAg make to educate farmers about the practices and principles of biological farming. Bryan “follows the BioAg program,” says Mike, adapting to changing situations, investing in equipment to get the job done, and willing to take on new technologies. “He is very progressive and a good manager.” Most of all, Bryan works to improve his soils with a goal of achieving optimal soil balance, and in doing so, has made his farm profitable and successful.

Heifers: Increasing the Potential of Your Future Milking Herd

Heifers are the future of your herd and your long term success as a dairy producer. Heifer raising makes up 20-25% of the total cost of milk production. A successful pre-weaning calf program has been proven to increase first lactation milk yield 1,000 lbs – 3,000 lbs. Genetic selection can account for 150 lbs-300 lbs greater milk production per lactation, but pre-weaning management can increase this 5 fold.

A successful pre-weaning calf program includes:

  • 1 gal of high quality colostrum within 4 hrs of birth
  • Continuous access to a high quality calf starter & water
  • Clean, dry, deep bedding
  • Fresh air without drafts

Midwestern BioAg can help producers achieve these goals. A well balanced dry cow ration fortified with organic selenium, trace minerals and vitamins can help ensure the calf is born healthy and the cow will produce quality colostrum.


“Heifer raising makes up 20-25% of the total cost of milk production.”


All of Midwestern BioAg’s calf products are designed to ensure your calves receive all the necessary nutrients to rapidly grow and develop into productive members of your herd. Our “O” BioBaby Base Pellet is designed to be mixed on-farm with your own grains and roasted beans. This high quality blend of ingredients in a pellet form, eliminates fines in calf feeds and supplies the minerals, vitamins and beneficial bacteria necessary to ensure rapid rumen development in your calves. For producers who don’t have access to protein, Midwestern BioAg has two protein/mineral pellet formulas, the “O” BioBaby Mixer Pellet & MBA 26 Mixer B180. Both products are designed to be mixed with grain to make your own calf feed. For producers without a source of dry grain or protein, Midwestern BioAg offers our “O” BioBaby Calf Starter a blend of corn, oats, roasted beans and “O” Biobaby Base Pellet. All of these products are designed to provide your calves with a balanced ration of protein, energy, minerals and vitamins in a palatable form. The weaning process should be based on starter intake rather than age. Three consecutive days of 3 lbs of starter intake is a good level to begin the weaning process.

As we near closer to spring and green grass, many farmers will be turning their heifers out to pasture. Many producers recognize the benefits of pasturing their heifers such as reduced feed cost, less manure handling and healthier, more physically fit heifers. But always remember, there is more to a successful heifer program than just pasture and a salt block. A balanced ration of protein, energy and minerals will insure you are neither underfeeding, nor over feeding your heifers. MBA Heifer Mineral R1200 and “O” Heifer Mineral are made with high quality sources of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, trace minerals, vitamins and salt. All of which will contribute to excellent immune function, hoof health and reproduction, as well as the overall body condition and healthiness of your future milking herd.

Alfalfa Stand Assessment

To say we’ve had a “tough winter” would be putting it mildly. April is prime time to evaluate your hay fields to see how they fared this past winter season. Bitter cold, mid-winter rain, and extreme freeze-thaw cycles may have taken their toll. Are they going to be healthy, high producing stands? Or is rotation the best option for maximum farm yield?

Here are some tips to evaluate existing alfalfa stands:

  • Healthy stands will green up quickly & evenly. Alfalfa will break dormancy when we have 4-5 days of consistent 50-60° F temperatures. Compare your fields to each other and to neighboring farms.
    Damaged plants will have uneven, asymmetrical growth. Part of the crown, or at least some fall buds, may have died. This can result in lower yields & open ground.
  • Cut open some roots to evaluate for damage. Healthy roots have firm, moist, white colored pith with little or no sign of rot. Dead roots can be gray and water soaked or dry & stringy. These plants will produce little to no forage.
  • After green up (or in the fall), count growing stems per square foot. This is the best indicator of potential yield.
  • Follow this rule of thumb:
    • Greater than 55 stems = stem density not limiting yield
    • 40-55 stems = some yield reduction; check other indicators
    • Less than 40 stems = severe yield limitation likely; consider replacing stand

If you need help evaluating a stand, or wish to discuss stand improvement options, contact Midwestern BioAg to speak with one of our experienced consultants today.

From the Farm of Gary Zimmer

Dear Farmer/Agribusiness person,

It seems like a long time has passed since I last sat down to write for the newsletter. Change is the only for certain thing that happens in life. Somehow we always seem to get a crop—this year was certainly better than last. Sure, it didn’t look that way in the beginning of June. It was raining every day (or so it seemed): the corn was not planted, the hay was getting more mature. Our alfalfa forage crops were not ideal—we ended up turning a lot of it into green manure crops for our corn. With all the delays, planting under ideal conditions was no longer going to happen. But at the end of the day, we did okay. We have plenty of feed, an outstanding corn crop, especially on those fields following the thinned out forage crops. We had lots of corn yielding at 200+ bushel/acre, though it was slow to dry down.

We, as all farmers do, notice that everything we do costs more; it seems like we are forced to search for more options. What to do? One method would be to cut costs by cutting corners: skimp on plant genetics, cut back on applying soil nutrients, skip the cover crops or rotations. Another option, the one we and many other farmers choose to follow, is to do more of the things that take our crops and soils to a new level. We know there is more potential out there, so the question is, how do we make changes to reach those yields? How can we be more consistent under poor conditions (to weather the storm, so to speak)?

You can’t pick up a farm magazine without finding at least one article on soil health and cover crops. I keep saying that to get the crops we have been getting doesn’t require spending all that money on insecticides, fungicides, biotechnology, multiple doses of herbicides and a heap of nitrogen. There is another sustainable method– Rodale has been testing it for years. It’s not complex—soil health is feeding and taking care of the soil life (biological farming!) It’s living roots, good soil water and air management, a diversity of plants, and no crust on the soil. In other words, it’s loose, crumbly soil that looks and smells alive. The mineral part of soil health is the least talked about. In fact, it’s almost ignored, except for the NPK, even though we know it takes 20 plus minerals to grow a crop. Some of them, like nitrogen can be home grown but others like sulfur and boron leach and therefore need to be added every year. The soil has a certain ability to dish out/exchange the minerals plants need, so supplementing a balanced diet in a plant/root friendly blend should be common sense. Minerals are essential not only for yield but for plant health, too.

Looking at the no till magazines, farmers, researchers, and agribusiness people are starting to take notice of the many benefits from cover crops and minimal disturbance of the soil. Vertical tillage is needed in many cases, so is ripping, building a zone can also be beneficial, but it is tillage. Why not promote tillage with a purpose, and for soil health. Soils and farmers are different all over the world, but all can improve soil mineral exchange, soil health and production.

If you think about mineral exchange and the need for the balanced diet and how the minerals are delivered, hooking them to carbon makes sense! In the manure, the compost, humates added, molasses added are not only food for the soil life but can help hold the minerals for more timely, efficient use. We want our minerals in the carbon biological cycle. That’s what green manure crops do, pull minerals from the soil and hook them in the plant. As that plant eventually breaks down through the work of biology, the minerals and the soil life’s dead bodies (they’re tiny but there are billions of them!), feed the next crops. That’s the cycle—that’s how nature works. How do we farmers expand this cycle and work to improve it? What is achievable? I believe we have the knowledge to do it, and there are already successful farms doing it, with the potential not yet reached.

The technology that’s coming today to monitor and precisely deliver nutrients and our zone equipment, planting equipment, tillage equipment—all that is here to do the job. Having healthy mineral rich fertile soils is possible but remember, soil fertility is the exchange of minerals, not just having a pretty soil test. This is a system. Midwestern BioAg has certainly been a leader in this movement. We spent the last 25+ years developing, teaching and perfecting mineral balance and delivery systems. Farmers are going to buy dry and liquid fertilizers with additives if they want high yielding crops– our job is to guide them on their choices.

This brings me to my winter meetings and this year’s theme, “40 Chances,” which is the title of Howard Buffett’s new book I’ve been reading. As farmers, we have about 40 years, or 40 chances, to accomplish our goals (and many of us have already used up a whole bunch of those 40 years!) On our farm we have a plan; we know there are more yield opportunities out there. More nutrients, more cover crops (both green and brown), deep tillage—we have seen the benefits of those practices after a few instances of wet, less than ideal conditions. Row support fertilizers, biological stimulants are among other things looked at. We have also added Ag Leader equipment and will do more detailed site specific sampling and nutrient applications. All this takes time and investment, but I have seen payoffs on farms all over this world. My winter meeting will be presenting these examples and opportunities.

While I will be speaking at fewer meetings myself this year, Bob Yanda and Duane Siegenthaler and some of our staff consultants will also be doing presentations around the country. Additionally, in many areas we will offer small group meetings on specific topics that fit the locality. We will be doing our best to make these events educational, thoughtful and beneficial for you– we hope you can attend one or more. We are a company based on education, information and ideas for you, our customers.

See you this winter,

Gary F. Zimmer

Optimizing Forage Production in 2014

Now that harvest is over and your animals are getting a consistent feed supply for their winter ration, it is a good time to review and evaluate your 2013 forage production with your consultant. Your forage sample test results are your report card along with your yield data. Did you get the yield and quality needed to provide enough consistent high quality forage to optimize production and profitability? If you did, Great! Good Job! You probably have a pretty good idea of what you need to do in 2014.

If the forage is not the quality needed, what will you need to do in 2014 to improve upon it? Has the hay stand outlived its productive life? Yield will usually start to diminish after the third year. If this is the case, it would be wise to rotate this field to corn and establish a new hay field.


“What’s the benefit of improving RFV?”


Was first crop cut on time? For lactating dairy cows you want to feed a hay crop that is greater than 150 RFV. A pure stand of alfalfa that is 24” tall at bud stage (1 or more nodes with visible buds, no flowers visible) will have a RFV of approximately 180. In the harvesting process you will lose about 15 points on haylage and up to 30 points on dry hay (losses will be greater if rained on). Standing first crop hay will lose 3-5 RFV points per day. Then follow up with a tight cutting interval based on maturity, which will probably be 28 days or less in some situations and plan on taking at least 4 cuttings.

What’s the benefit of improving RFV? Hay with a 125 RFV will yield approximately 1,960 lbs of milk per ton of dry matter (DM) hay, and hay at a 150 RFV will yield approximately 2,135 lbs of milk per ton of DM hay. Improving the quality to test out at a RFV of 180 will yield approximately 2,400 lbs of milk per ton of DM hay.

The difference in milk production between 125 and 180 RFV is 440 lbs per ton of DM hay. If you have a yield of 5.5 ton DM x 440 = 2,420 lbs more milk per acre. Or 2,420 lbs milk x $19.00/cwt milk = $459.80 additional milk income/acre; or ($726 if organic).These are realistic numbers and should be an incentive for dairy farmers to strive for the goal of putting up higher quality hay forage. Even the difference between 150 and 180 RFV is $277/acre.

Liquid Carbon-Based Fertilizer: A Spring Soil Starter

As we all know, spring weather in the Midwest can be really variable. Rain, snow, cold soils, these are all things we deal with during planting season. Getting the seed in the ground under the right conditions is the first step in fulfilling yield potential, but unfortunately there isn’t always time to wait until those conditions occur. There’s not a grower out there who hasn’t had to plant under less than ideal circumstances; it’s just a call that has to be made sometimes. However, there are things you can do to give your crops a head start, improve early season vigor and increase yields. One of the most important is to ensure that adequate fertility is available for the germinating seed to cope with adverse conditions.

While you can’t control the weather, you do have some control over early season fertility. Placing fertilizer near the seed as a pop-up (in furrow) or a starter (2×2, 2×0, etc.) reduces the risk of planting in less than ideal conditions by providing readily available nutrients for early growth. Although a yield boost cannot be expected with seed-placed fertilizer every year, the benefit comes when conditions are less than ideal. Applying fertilizer with the seed every year hedges risks because conditions are unpredictable, and the crop will utilize the nutrients either way. This practice will not necessarily add costs either, because the amount of nutrients placed with the seed can simply be subtracted from the overall fertilizer budget for the crop. Splitting the fertilizer application can help improve nutrient use efficiency as well, by better syncing fertilizer application with crop need.

The most important thing to consider when choosing a fertilizer to be placed in furrow is the quality of the product. Many fertilizers can cause injury to the seed resulting from two factors: the salt index and the production of free ammonia. As the salt index of a fertilizer increases the potential for seed injury increases as well, because a high salt concentration can dehydrate the germinating seed. The production of free ammonia as a fertilizer breaks down can also be toxic to the seed. A good way to reduce the risks associated with in furrow placement is to use carbon-based fertilizer such as Midwestern BioAg’s L-CBF 10-14-1 or TerraFed.


“Splitting the fertilizer application can help improve nutrient use efficiency.”


L-CBF 10-14-1 provides readily available nitrogen, phosphorus and a small amount of potassium in a molasses base, which works to stimulate biological activity in the root zone. Terrafed, with a 1-0-4 analysis, is a molasses product that provides the biological benefits of a simple carbon source for use on organic farms or mixed with other liquid fertilizers.

Molasses, which is a liquid form of carbon, helps to stabilize the soluble nitrogen provided in 10-14-1, therefore reducing the risk of negative impacts on the seed. The way this stabilization works is related to the fact that microbes require a certain amount of carbon in order to utilize nitrogen in the soil. By providing this carbon source in conjunction with nitrogen, microbes are able to efficiently utilize the nitrogen, taking it up and then releasing it as they die. This turnover of the microbial biomass happens quickly and helps to keep the nitrogen not used by the plant directly from being lost as a result of ammonia volatilization or leaching. Additionally, mixing L-CBF 10-14-1, or TerraFed, with UAN 28% is an excellent way to stabilize and slow down the loss of nitrogen from that product.

In addition to nitrogen stabilization, the molasses in the L-CBF products stimulates soil biological activity. The volume of soil contacted by newly emerged roots is very small, and therefore it is critical that adequate nutrition is available in close proximity. Stimulation of the soil biology around the roots with an in furrow L-CBF application helps to unlock and cycle nutrients more rapidly. Phosphorus availability is often limited in cool soils due to its low mobility and low overall biological activity. Research has shown that the simple sugars in molasses provide an energy source for soil microbes, stimulating their activity and releasing phosphorus in the process. For these reasons, utilizing L-CBF as a seed-placed liquid carbon-based fertilizer can have many benefits. It is important to remember that starter or pop-up fertilizer is only a component of an overall biological fertility program, but giving the crop what it needs to cope with early season stress can make a big difference at the end of the year.

TomBeth Farms: A Winner With BioAg

Quality matters to the Tom and Beth Kearns family of TomBeth Farms of Seneca, WI. Their homegrown feeds support a herd of 125-head of high quality cattle (seven newly scored Excellents among their registered Holstein cows raised the herd total to over twenty; one-third of their cattle are descended from Tom-Beth Jolt Erin, a 14 year old cow scored EX-94 with a 95-scored udder and over 300,000 lbs of lifetime production). And the quality of their crops was recently recognized when the TomBeth Farms entry was named winner of the World Dairy Expo 2013 Quality Counts Award* for corn silage.

“High in sugar, high in starch, high in digestibility,” is Tom’s definition of a quality corn silage, with soil fertility and hybrid selection key factors. He had submitted entries to the Dairy Expo contest in previous years and was delighted when he learned the farm’s entry was named a finalist this year. The family was “very surprised” to be chosen the winner from among the entries from all around the country. (Incidentally, the winning entry was grown in the drought season of 2012, as entries have to be submitted for testing by Aug. 15.) The sample, a Master’s Choice 515 white cob, soft kernel corn with milk production genetics, was grown with MBA’s 10-9-10 starter on fields that have been biologically farmed for 16 years.

Long before the farm magazines’ recent ‘discovery’ of biological farming concepts like cover crops, nutrients beyond NPK, and soil health, TomBeth Farms was using them to produce quality feeds. They started with Midwestern BioAg back in 1997, shortly after moving from Pennsylvania to the rugged Driftless Area of southwest Wisconsin’s Crawford County. A neighbor told them about MBA and invited Tom to attend a meeting with him, to hear speaker Gary Zimmer. What he heard that day held immediate appeal— Tom got his soil tested and began using MBA products, corn starter first, then Bio-Cal®.


“Tom’s goal is to get all the feeds to that same quality point, get everything lined up together.”


The fertility program at TomBeth Farms emphasizes healthy soils, and starts with calcium, “one of the backbones of the fertility program,” notes Tom. Bio-Cal®, gypsum and/or high calcium lime are applied, along with addressing sulfur and boron. Crop production keys are balanced fertility, a short rotation, good organic matter levels, manure applications, and a starter fertilizer. They use urea and ammonium sulfate, and no anhydrous on the farms’ clay-based soils which have good CECs and a pH around neutral.Rotations are basic and kept short: two years corn followed by three years in hay which is a grass/alfalfa mix– “We’ve always had a little grass with alfalfa,” notes Tom. Sometimes they’ll insert a year of soybeans or an alternative crop such as forage oats or sudan grass.

Cover crops are added into the rotation following silage corn and soybeans—triticale or rye after chopping silage, with harvest in the spring or plow down as a green manure crop. Bean ground gets rye or triticale. Tom sees a number of benefits from cover crops: building soil fertility and organic matter, increasing biological activity, and preventing erosion on the Kearns’ hilly ground.

Tom’s goal is “to get all the feeds to that same quality point, get everything lined up together.” And what does Midwestern BioAg bring to TomBeth Farms? “Education, a different way of looking at things, and new ideas to try,” says Tom.

*Dairy Expo corn silage samples are judged on lab analysis (60%), visual judging (30%), and calculated milk per ton (10%). The finalists for the Quality Counts Corn Silage award were then further tested using total tract digestibility, a type of in vitro testing.

From the Farm of Gary Zimmer

Dear Farmer/Agribusiness person,

It’s amazing how well things seem to be doing on the farm this summer. They’re late, I know, and at a few times this growing season I wasn’t so sure that we would have much to harvest. We do get tired of always having to switch to ‘plan B.’

Our field days are coming up (Aug 20 and 21) and we are ready to show and present what we do here on Otter Creek Organic Farm. Not everything works perfect on every acre every year, but our soil health and resilience, fertility and tilth definitely take out some of the environmental hits. What do all those words mean? Not all is black and white, not all is easy to measure. Being organic and having to cultivate was a good thing this year, following all the rain in July and the resulting tight soils. Depending on biological nitrogen (from manures, cover crops and soil life) does stop or reduce the nitrogen loss. Our corn got darker every day while corn in our area got more yellow. Split applications of nitrogen would really have helped our conventional neighbors, also getting more air in the ground would be a big plus for them. Never forget, we have jobs to do as farmers and planting and harvesting are just two of them!

Field Day has a  new format this year Our field days have changed this year, with Otter Creek hosting two afternoon-only biological farming events Aug 20 and 21. We are an organic farm and as such we do things around the organic system, using biological practices. Even if you’re not organic, you can certainly learn from the principles (they remain the same for everyone) even though some production techniques would be different.

We have also split the event into two days, trying to get more opportunity to share what we do with a smaller group. The first day, Soils Day, will be looking at the chemical, physical and biological aspects: how we manage nutrients, rotate and use cover crops, manage carbon inputs, select fertilizers; what we do about tillage and how we feed, evaluate and take care of our soil life. On the second day, Livestock Day, we will be sharing how we feed and manage the cow, the heifer, and the calf. We’ll talk about not only the rations, but also the work and management we do to feed that balanced ration and feed the feeds we grow, both pastures and forages. You can’t violate the principles of the cow or the soil. Come and learn those at our field days.

All are welcome, see you Aug 20-21,
Gary F. Zimmer

Producer Profile: John Jorasz, Jorasz Brothers Farm

Farm Highlights:

  • Wilson, Michigan
  • 250 cow dairy, along with dairy beef & heifers for a total of 800 head.
  • Runs 5000 acres of corn, beans, alfalfa, wheat & barley.
  • Has used the Midwestern BioAg program since the early 90’s.

Product Highlight: Liquid-Carbon Based Fertilizer 10-14-1

It all started in the early 90’s when John Jorasz stumbled across Gary Zimmer at one of his meetings. He believed that what Gary said held a lot of promise and a lot of truth. After that encounter, he took the initiative and learned more about biological farming and what he learned made a lot of sense to him; the rest, they say, is history, John has been implementing the BioAg system on his farm ever since.

This past year, John used L-CBF 10-14-1 as a starter on his corn ground. What intrigued John about this product was that it was molasses based. Molasses is a natural sugar product and is more soil friendly than other liquid starters which made it ideal for John’s management plan. John also purchased a new planter this year which could only utilize a liquid starter and he looked to Midwestern BioAg to supply him with an easy to use product to suit his needs. His new planter handled the liquid very well and also allowed him to experiment with different application rates. John settled on a rate of 10 gallons/acre placed at 1 inch beside and 1 inch below the seed. He had absolutely no issues with flow or the planter, even at higher rates; in fact next year he plans to apply 12-15 gallons/acre because of the impact that the L-CBF made on his corn. The L-CBF seemed to do a lot more for the corn and because he had no issues with the handling of this product he is looking forward to being able to apply it at a higher rate and see even more positive results.

Not a boastful man himself, John insisted that his corn was just as good as everyone else’s; but this year he did notice that his neighbors were commenting on his corn and comparing it to others insisting that there was nothing else in the county quite like it.

Feed Inventory, Do You Have Enough?

Now is a very good time to evaluate what you have and what you still need to put in storage to make it through this next year. Due to the drought of 2012, wide spread winter-kill this spring, wet conditions for planting corn and low carry-over  of feed inventories have left some challenging situations. Due to these variables harvesting the same amount of acres for a certain forage does not work. Also harvesting, storage and feed out shrink must be taken into account.

Too many times we have received calls saying “I’m out of certain forage.” Feed inventory is critical and always changing, it is something that needs to be tracked on all dairy farms. Knowing what the nutrient composition is so that there is a plan in place before you run out is important. It also helps position different quality forages to different animal groups to maximize production and economic value.

By this time you have a pretty good idea of how much hay you have and can forecast what you will be getting for the next cutting. So, how much corn silage do we need to chop? Or do we have a summer annual to harvest yet? Or do we need to seed alternative forage that we can harvest this fall or next spring?

Remember to take into account harvest and storage losses in planning your needs. Harvesting at the proper moisture along with processing and treating with inoculants to maximize dry matter recovery and digestibility is critical.


“Feed inventory is critical and always changing, it is something that needs to be tracked on all dairy farms.”


In order to do this you do need to know what your livestock inventory is. This may also be a good time to evaluate your culling parameters to control the number of animals that you have to feed. Start by looking at individual groups of animals along with their rations so you can calculate how many lbs (divide by 2000=tons) to determine your needs for each group and then multiply for length of time. Add up the feeds from each group of animals and subtract from current inventory (know what your storage holds). The result is the amount of feed that will be needed to feed your herd for the selected amount of time. Now add in harvest, storage and feed out shrink to determine the amount of additional feed needed to harvest or purchase. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your consultant can help or there are spread sheets and software programs available to track your feed.Shrink is real and something we don’t see happening. Total forage dry matter losses can easily range from 10%-20% coming from losses associated with filling, seepage, fermentation, surface spoilage along with birds, rodents and tires tracking feed. This is something every producer needs to acknowledge and take steps to reduce. It is worth taking the time to evaluate your operation and see where the opportunity lies to reduce this profit robber.