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.
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.
To make improvements to dairy farm margins in challenging times, dairies should look “lower” to increase profitability — all the way down to the ground, according to Midwestern BioAg’s nutritionist.
“If you grow your own forages,” says the BioAg nutritionist, “we can help you improve profitability by building a fertility plan to grow a better quality, higher-yielding crop. There’s a lot of revenue potential in the soil, and we can help you unlock it.”
By taking a systems approach to dairy farm management, Midwestern BioAg consultants …
Let me start with the good news about today’s dairy markets: It’s time to evaluate. That is exactly what my family is doing on our own farm. What expenses can we eliminate or reduce? On most dairy farms, there are things one can do that won’t negatively affect today’s production (or future production) and cow health. But there are also areas where you can’t skimp.
What are the key things we must do to maintain our farms in the future?