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hayandforage.com

January 2020

Ongoing pasture renovation pg 6 Built on honesty pg 18 Equipment focus pgs 20 to 27 A pathway to ranch pg 32

Published by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.

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Make the Switch! Learn why so many growers are switching to Alforex™ varieties with Hi‑Gest® alfalfa technology.

1 Higher

Digestibility Alforex™ varieties with Hi‑Gest® alfalfa technology average 5-8% more leaves than conventional varieties which can result in the following: •

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2 More Tonnage Alforex varieties with Hi‑Gest alfalfa technology provide farms flexibility to adjust to aggressive harvest systems to maximize yield and quality, or to a more relaxed schedule focused on tonnage. Either way, growers put the odds of improved returns per acre and animal performance in their favor.

3 More Milk While management and feeding practices vary widely, it’s common for dairies feeding Alforex varieties with Hi‑Gest alfalfa technology to report a positive production response from their cows when alfalfa makes up a higher percentage of the ration. Based on the increased rate of digestion, you could expect 2.5 lbs. more milk per cow, per day.1 And while not every producer experiences this level of improvement, some producers report even better results.

Ready to bring higher digestibility, more tonnage and more milk to your farm? Visit us at www.alforexseeds.com or call us at 1-800-824-8585. *The increased rate of fiber digestion, extent of digestion and crude protein data was developed from replicated research and on-farm testing. During the 2015 growing season at West Salem, WI and Woodland, CA, the following commercial dormant, semi-dormant and non-dormant alfalfa varieties were compared head-to-head with Alforex varieties with Hi-Gest alfalfa technology for rate of digestion, extent of digestion and percent crude protein: America’s Alfalfa Brand AmeriStand 427TQ; Croplan Brands LegenDairy XHD and Artesia Sunrise; Fertizona Brand Fertilac; S&W Seed Brands SW6330, SW7410 and SW10; and W-L Brands WL 319HQ and WL 354HQ. Also, during the 2015 growing season, 32 on-farm Alforex varieties with Hi-Gest alfalfa technology hay and silage samples were submitted to Rock River Laboratory, Inc., for forage analysis. The results for rate of digestion, extent of digestion and percent crude protein were averaged and compared to the 60-day and four-year running averages for alfalfa in the Rock River database which included approximately 1,700 alfalfa hay and 3,800 silage 60-day test results and 23,000 hay and 62,000 silage test results in the four-year average. **Crude protein=60-day running averages and uNDF240=four-year running average 1 Combs, D. 2015. Relationship of NDF digestibility to animal performance. Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference, 101-112. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5350/f0a2cb916e74edf5f69cdb73f091e1c8280b.pdf.

™ ® Trademarks of Dow AgroSciences, DuPont or Pioneer, and their affiliated companies or their respective owners. © 2019 Corteva.

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January 2020 · VOL. 35 · No. 1 MANAGING EDITOR Michael C. Rankin ART DIRECTOR Todd Garrett ONLINE MANAGER Patti J. Hurtgen DIRECTOR OF MARKETING John R. Mansavage ADVERTISING SALES Kim E. Zilverberg kzilverberg@hayandforage.com Jenna Zilverberg jzilverberg@hayandforage.com Jan C. Ford jford@hoards.com ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Patti J. Kressin pkressin@hayandforage.com

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W.D. HOARD & SONS PRESIDENT Brian V. Knox

Here’s what grazing success looks like The Willamette Valley in Oregon is known for its extensive grass seed production. It’s also home to Double J Jerseys, an outstanding grazing dairy.

EDITORIAL OFFICE 28 Milwaukee Ave. West, Fort Atkinson, WI, 53538 WEBSITE www.hayandforage.com EMAIL info@hayandforage.com PHONE (920) 563-5551

DEPARTMENTS 4 First Cut 6 Beef Feedbunk 14 Alfalfa Checkoff 23 Forage Gearhead

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Communication and support lead to business success

Woodchuck Custom Harvesting relies on a loyal customer base and a strong support network.

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Wheel traffic reduces alfalfa yield

Though sometimes unavoidable, ongoing research confirms that heavy harvest equipment can cut into alfalfa yields.

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PASTURE RENOVATION IS AN ONGOING PROCESS

FIFTY YEARS OF HAYING PROGRESS

BALE OR GRAZE?

TYING THE KNOT

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DON’T CUT IT TOO CLOSE

A HAY BUSINESS BUILT ON HONESTY

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28 Feed Analysis 30 Dairy Feedbunk 32 Pasture Ponderings 34 Machine Shed 42 Forage IQ 42 Hay Market Update ON THE COVER A few of the 175 cows at Double J Jerseys, Monmouth, Ore., are seen grazing after their morning milking. The operation is owned by Jon and Juli Bansen, who bought the farm 28 years ago and converted to organic production in 2000. The grass-fed herd calves year around. Read more about this exceptional grazing operation beginning on page 8. Photo by Mike Rankin

HAY & FORAGE GROWER (ISSN 0891-5946) copyright © 2019 W. D. Hoard & Sons Company. All rights reserved. Published six times annually in January, February, March, April/May, August/September and November by W. D. Hoard & Sons Co., 28 Milwaukee Ave., W., Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 53538 USA. Tel: 920-563-5551. Fax: 920-563-7298. Email: info@hayandforage.com. Website: www.hayandforage. com. Periodicals Postage paid at Fort Atkinson, Wis., and additional mail offices. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Free and controlled circulation to qualified subscribers. Non-qualified subscribers may subscribe at: USA: 1 year $20 U.S.; Outside USA: Canada & Mexico, 1 year $80 U.S.; All other countries, 1 year $120 U.S. For Subscriber Services contact: Hay & Forage Grower, PO Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 USA; call: 920-563-5551, email: info@hayandforage.com or visit: www.hayandforage.com. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to HAY & FORAGE GROWER, 28 Milwaukee Ave., W., Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 53538 USA. Subscribers who have provided a valid email address may receive the Hay & Forage Grower email newsletter eHay Weekly.

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Progress

M

OST people, organizations, and other entities like to make progress, a happy and positive word. Progress is also a battleground. The reasons that progress can be so controversial, as I see it, are three-fold. First is simply a general subjective belief about what direction defines progress . . . trade war or stay the course, big farm or small farm, designated hitter or pitcher hits. You get the idea. The second reason why progress elicits so many disagreements is the fear of the unknown and how to deal with the ramifications of change. For example, cellphones have progressed to “necessity” status for the vast majority of people, but we also know more people will be killed while driving because users are texting or dialing rather than watching the road. So, do we eliminate cellphones to save lives or do we simply try to abate the problem while allowing the cellphone craze to continue? Truth be told, cellphones are not the problem. People making bad decisions with the technology are where the blame lies. This same scenario plays out in agriculture time after time. Let’s look at pest or herbicide resistant transgenic crops, which have been with us now for nearly 30 years. The rub lies in the fact that this technology (or progress) creates the potential for new problems — resistant pests and cross pollination, for example. If a producer chooses to overuse this technology to the point that pest resistance develops, is that a technology problem or human decision-making problem? The third reason progress causes so much consternation is the matter of how quickly or slowly it’s occurring. Often, the debates center around fixing an existing problem. These are the classic “Is the glass half empty or half full?” arguments. Agricultural inter-

Mike Rankin Managing Editor

ests are engaged in these discussions on a full-time basis. Although we would like life to give us nothing but a full glass, sometimes we need to realize that progress is made as long as we keep pouring. Are we doing enough to improve our climate change status? What about environmental pollution from fertilizers or manure? Are we making animal welfare a strong enough priority? The truth is, agriculture can make a strong case that huge gains have been made in all of these areas, at least compared to where we were 25 years ago. But are changes happening fast enough? Clearly, many in the nonfarm public would argue they are not. What often is not understood by the general public is that we’re dealing with a massive biological system that is inherent with a strong dilution effect. It takes decades and many individuals to create a problem, and it often takes decades and many individual changes to get it fixed. We can’t just do a recall. Progress is both painful and necessary. At the farm gate, progress is also necessary if you want to stay in business. It can be measured in environmental or sustainability terms, but it most certainly also needs to be measured in terms of profitability. Fortunately for the forage industry and forage growers in particular, our crop has a bucketful of potential advantages from an environmental standpoint and the same from a profit-driving perspective. It’s pretty easy to defend perennial forages if they are managed correctly. Simply put, our progress is measured in milk and meat per acre. Here’s wishing you progress in 2020. •

Write Managing Editor Mike Rankin, 28 Milwaukee Ave., P.O. Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 call: 920-563-5551 or email: mrankin@hayandforage.com

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BEEF FEEDBUNK

by Matt Poore

Pasture renovation is an ongoing process

H

EALTHY pastures are the key to efficiently feeding beef cattle in the humid regions of the United States. But, despite our efforts to do everything right, stands of most forages will eventually start to thin. This may be due to errors in your forage allocation that lead to overgrazing, letting fertility slip, or because some weed or another takes hold and competes with the desirable plants. The environment may also be to blame as severe drought, severe wet conditions leading to pugging (deep trampling), or flooding can all hurt stands. In my area, there are many examples of good forage managers that have very nice pastures, and in the case of Kentucky-31 tall fescue, or bermudagrass, many pastures have persisted for over 50 years. Unfortunately, during the last five years the stresses listed above — too dry, too wet, or completely underwater — have taken a toll on even the pastures with the best management. The Amazing Grazing program in North Carolina has been collaborating with other state and federal agencies to support pasture renovation by providing new no-till drills in counties where they are needed and to fund educational demonstrations across the state. These activities have led to a lot of discussion on how to best approach a renovation, and I will share some of that thought process here.

Find the cause The first step in any renovation is to soil test and improve any fertility limitations identified. You should do a soil

test at least every three years as part of your maintenance plan. Getting fertility right (especially pH, phosphorus, and potassium) is the first step no matter which way you go with renovation. The second step is to identify why the pasture needs to be renovated. If overgrazing is the issue, then improving grazing management will be a key to success. If flooding or drought was the issue, then selecting species or varieties that will be more resilient to future challenges is advised.

Take inventory It is important to get an objective idea of what the stands are like in each pasture you are thinking about renovating. We find the “point step” approach very useful for this evaluation. To do a point step, take a clipboard with a paper record form like the one shown in Figure 1. Randomly walk the pasture like you would take a soil sample, and every so often (20 to 30 steps depending on the size of the pasture) look down at your shoe tip and put a mark for whatever plant (or bare ground) your shoe tip touches. It is a little humbling to do this as it requires you to be able to identify most of the plants out there. If you are unfamiliar with the major species, ask an adviser with experience to accompany you. Shoot for between 100 and 200 points, and then calculate a percentage of each species. Also, make notes if you find remnants of old weeds, and note gully erosion and anything else unusual you see. Continue this process on all the pastures you want to improve. Next, interpret the results. Do you

have at least 50 percent in desirable species and few very undesirable weeds? If so, then an herbicide, fertility, and rest strategy might be all that is called for. You might consider overseeding the pasture with desired species and varieties you want or frost seeding clovers or grasses. What are the major weed species that need to be controlled? If less than half the points are desirable, then we would suggest killing the existing stand and planting an improved variety of a species that will complement your forage system. This might be a native warm-season grass, bermudagrass (or another warm-season perennial), novel endophyte tall fescue, or some other niche forage. There are many options, and the renovation process is a chance to upgrade your forage system to use new and improved genetics. If you do decide to fully renovate, study the species you want to plant and establish them at the recommended time. If this is more than a month or two in the future, we would recommend that you terminate the existing stand and plant an annual smother crop to suppress weed populations, prevent MATT POORE The author is an extension ruminant nutrition specialist at North Carolina State University.

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soil erosion, and to break up surface compaction and very dense sod.

Let it establish Once you do get to planting, start with good quality seed, calibrate your drill, get the seed depth right, and make sure there is not too much surface residue to prevent good seedling emergence. Also, do your best to avoid gaps and skips . . . these become a place for weeds to establish. It takes a little extra seed, but overlap is a lot better than gaps! Once the stand is up, make sure you baby it for the establishment year. Don’t graze under wet or dry conditions and be very careful not to overgraze. If adding clovers, we recommend frost seeding in February following an autumn grass planting. The establishment phase needs to continue for the first full growing season. Be very careful not to overgraze, and scout for weeds and treat them before they hurt the new stand. If you expect weeds, you might want to wait to put out clover until the second year so you have flexibility to use an herbicide. Because your effective yields will likely

be lower for the year following a full renovation, it is important to reduce stocking rate some or to bring in additional feed resources. Because of this, it makes the most sense to do no more than 10 to 20 percent of the farm in any given year to prevent a large drop in forage production.

tures will not give you nearly the yield benefit and will cost you more on lost forage production. Pasture renovation is an important process that should be embraced by all pasture-based livestock farmers. There are many opportunities to learn more about pasture renovation. Included are trainings on renovation with novel endophyte fescue provided by the Alliance for Grassland Renewal. Dates are March 10 in Middleburg, Va.; March 12 in Mt. Ulla, N.C.; March 16 in Athens, Ga.; March 18 in Springhill, Tenn.; March 19 in Lexington, Ky.; March 24 in Harrison, Ark.; and March 25 in Mt. Vernon, Mo. •

Get more bang for the buck A final point is that the most benefit will come with the pastures that need to be renovated the most. Renovating pastures with poor stands of desirable forages and high weed populations will give you the best bang for your buck. Upgrading your most productive pas-

Figure 1. Point step worksheet Pasture

Tall Fescue

Orchardgrass

White Clover

Buttercup

Other Desirable

Other Undesirable

Bare Ground

Total 100

1* 34

3

9

17

4

4

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2 *Pasture 1 shows signs of heavy horsenettle and dog fennel population

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HERE’S WHAT GRAZING SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE by Mike Rankin

J

ON Bansen is an open and amiable dairy farmer; he’s also one not to mince words or hold back on what he thinks. You may not agree with everything he says, but what can’t be denied is the success of the grazing dairy he and his wife, Juli, have developed over the past 28 years. Having been on many grazing dairies

in my lifetime, if I had to point to what the model for grazing farm success should look like, Bansen’s Double J Jerseys would certainly be at the top of that list. Bansen is a fourth-generation dairy farmer who has grazing embedded in his DNA. All of the previous generations of his family had grazing operations, but none so refined as the one you’ll find on the current farm, which is located near Monmouth, Ore., in the

western Willamette Valley. Bansen’s father grew up in northern California. Land availability for farming was tight, so when Bansen was 10 years old, his father pulled up stakes and moved to a farm near Yamhill, Ore., where he could milk more cows. The young Bansen attended college in Nebraska and received a degree in biology. He then got married and returned to the home farm in Yamhill. He and Juli bought the current farm in 1991,

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production. Bansen also has purchased another farm, several miles away from the home farm, for heifer grazing. Several years after the start of Double J Jerseys, Bansen was approached by what was then a still fledgling organic milk cooperative based in Wisconsin called Organic Valley. They were looking to expand nationwide. After some careful consideration, Bansen began his conversion to organic production and began shipping organic milk in 2000. Despite already being very successful by most measures, he converted to organic production because the economics seemed to fit his farm better; he could turn his forage into higher-priced milk. Also, even at that time, Bansen could see consolidation occurring at the farm level. “I wanted to pick a side and do something at a scale that made some kind of biological sense, personal sense, and cow sense,” Bansen explained. “I’m basically a forage producer, but, in the end, the cows are providing our living. I wanted their quality of life to be as good as my quality of life.”

The milking herd at Double J Jerseys calves year-round. At any one time during the grazing season, there are about 160 milking cows on pastures, excluding dry cows. The milking herd is sustained on 110 acres of pasture, or only about 0.7 acres per cow. “My focus has always been on growing grass, and we grow a lot of it,” Bansen said. “Our pastures are dense, but a cow needs feed anywhere she puts her head down.” Bansen is a big believer that what’s happening below ground is as important as what’s happening above ground. “We take regular soil samples, and one of the key components we look at is organic matter,” he said. “I want to see that moving up, and that tells me what’s happening below ground. Our pastures generally run 6 to 7 percent organic matter. As we slowed down the rotation, we’ve seen increases of 1 to 3 percentage units in the past 15 years,” he added.

Lack of summer moisture is the downside of where we’re located, according to Jon Bansen. To overcome that challenge, the dairy producer uses 270 irrigation pods to water his pastures. Mike Rankin

and that’s when his education in dairy grazing kicked into high gear. The newly purchased dairy farm had 80 acres and all of the land had been planted to corn for silage. Bansen converted the entire land base to pasture. “We started grazing right away, but more intensively than my father and grandfather did,” Bansen said. “We were on a fast rotation because I couldn’t figure out how to slow it down with the number of cows and acres I had. It was a gray matter problem on my part. At that time, we still fed a lot of grain and got a lot of milk out of our Jersey cows.”

A move to organic Since purchasing the current farm, Bansen has added 350 adjacent acres of rented land. Thirty acres of that land is devoted to milk cow pasture and the rest is used for heifer grazing and baleage

The switch to organic production meant that some changes would have to occur. “We lowered our grain feeding from about 20 pounds per day to 4 to 5 pounds,” Bansen said. “We also had to get more out of our pastures. When we started, we were rolling through our pastures in 12 days. Now we’re on a 32to 33-day rotation, and that has made all the difference. We simply give the cows less pasture with each move, which drastically improves overall utilization.” Bansen said that when he fed a lot of grain, cows would go out to the pasture with half-full bellies. As a result, the cows would select the perennial ryegrass and white clover and leave the orchardgrass; too much pasture forage was going to waste. Currently, the cows get a new paddock every 12 hours. “We have permanent paddocks set up, and then use polywire to allocate just the right amount of forage for a 12-hour period,” Bansen explained. About two years ago, Bansen completely cut grain out of the cows’ diet and took advantage of the premium Organic Valley pays for wholly grass-fed milk. “Other than forage, the only thing they get is a small amount of carrot pulp, which is fed at milking and is only used to keep cows flowing through the parlor.”

Mike Rankin

Getting more from the same

Jon Bansen wants his cows’ quality of life to be as good as his own. He relies solely on pastures, baleage, and alfalfa hay to feed his 175 Jersey cows.

Cows move to most paddocks on double or single file concrete lanes. The pastures consist of a mix of grasses and legumes. Orchardgrass, perennial ryegrass, and several species of clover comprise the species mix. Bansen noted that the longer rotations really helped with the persistence of his perennial ryegrass. “In my early days with a shorter rotation, the perennial ryegrass had a tendency to leave stands fairly rapidly,” Bansen explained. “Ryegrass is the grass of choice for my cows . . . and it always has been.”

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cally inclined than his dad. Two daughters, Christine and Allison, live and work off the farm, while the youngest son, Kaj, plays basketball in college, works on the farm during the summer, and hasn’t excluded the notion of also coming back to farm after graduation. Bansen also has two full-time employees, who do most of the milking, and a part-time employee who helps during the summer.

Keeps learning and teaching

Mike Rankin

“A cow needs feed anywhere she puts her head down,” Bansen said. The pastures at Double J Jerseys are both diverse and dense.

about 45 inches of rain annually, but virtually all of that moisture falls between mid-September to April. “In the winter, we can go a month without ever seeing sunshine,” Bansen noted. In contrast, the summers are dry, and for this reason, Bansen is set up to water all of his pastures using 270 irrigation pods. He begins irrigating in early May to early June, depending on the year, and generally turns the water off around mid-September. His water source comes from the Little Luckiamute River, which borders the north side of the farm. “Lack of summer moisture is the downside of where we’re located,” Bansen noted. “The upside is that cows are comfortable to go out and graze. Although we can get hot temperatures in the summer, we usually are bringing the cows up to milk at 2:20 pm so they aren’t in the pasture during the worst heat of the day. Our nights cool down dramatically, often into the 50s,” he added. “Irrigation definitely adds expense with pumping and labor costs,” Bansen said. “We have to make sure we have the equivalent of a full-time employee just for irrigation.” Bansen irrigates paddocks up to a week before the cows go back into the pasture. “I want the soil to dry out and reduce compaction from hoof traffic as much as possible,” he said.

The cows usually begin grazing around March 20 and are pulled off pasture at the end of November when rain and cold set in. Winters are wet with high temperatures generally reaching the high 30s to low 40s. When the grazing season ends, cows are housed in a freestall barn. Bansen makes baleage during May and June from extra spring pasture growth and some dedicated, nonirrigated hayfields. This baleage, along with purchased alfalfa hay from eastern Oregon, is fed during the winter. The mixed forage baleage and the alfalfa hay are fed in equal amounts on a dry matter basis. Although some people discount the notion of climate change, Bansen is not among them. “We’ve noted a marked change in our climate since we’ve bought this place,” he said. “For example, we rarely get winter snow anymore, but that didn’t used to be the case. Our summers are getting hotter. We’re planting tree lines along fields to help provide more shade for the cattle. I think climate change is going to be a big issue for agriculture. I worry what it means for my kids who will farm this place after me,” he added with concern. Bansen and his wife have four children. The oldest, Ross, has been working on the farm for eight years. He is involved in all aspects of the grazing operation and, according to Bansen, is more mechani-

Woody Lane is a livestock nutrition and forage consultant based in Roseburg, Ore. He also coordinates and moderates three grazing discussion groups in the state. Bansen is among the over 100 producers who participate. “We rotate to a different farm for each meeting and discuss what is going on at that particular farm,” Bansen explained. “The first couple of hours are spent out in the field, then we sit down to discuss the farm operation. If I can come back with a morsel of information I didn’t know before, then it’s worth it. Sometimes you learn as much from something that’s not working as from something that is working,” he said. “At one meeting, I learned that if I cut my pasture and let it wilt before turning cows in, they won’t bloat. That little nugget has been golden for me because it solved a problem we were having during high-risk bloat situations,” he added. Bansen noted that grazing farmers are always willing to share information. Despite his obvious success, he continues to learn and refine, but now often finds himself in the role as teacher and mentor. In fact, he is frequently asked to speak to classes at Oregon State University and to young Organic Valley cooperative farmer-members. “At the core, I’m a forage farmer,” Bansen said proudly. “We have to get as much milk from these pastures as we possibly can. That’s the only way this farm will be profitable and sustainable.” To be sure, Bansen has accomplished his goals with steady improvement over the past 28 years. He didn’t want to be counted among the group of dairy farmers who have exited the business or among the group who expanded into multiple thousands of cows. He wanted just what he has. “We support four families on this farm and have built something that my kids can continue into the fifth generation and beyond,” Bansen said. “That’s something I’m very proud of.” •

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by Jason Bradley

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HEN it comes to providing forage for livestock in the winter, there are generally two methods: You can provide forage in the form of traditional hay, or you can feed it by grazing standing forage. Both methods work depending on the situation, and I’m not going to try to convince you that either way is better, only that there are things to consider when choosing your approach.

Lower cost option The greatest benefit of using standing forage is that you can reduce your expenses. Feeding costs are a major operating expense. If properly managed, the amount of hay needed during winter can be cut in half, depending on available forage quantity and quality. However, this may not be an option if you’re in an area that is usually covered with snow for a portion of the year. If you don’t have to worry about snow cover, you’ll still need to consider the forage quality. Once forage goes

dormant, the quality will begin to drop. Supplemental feeding will have to take place at this point.

When hay is in play If you bale hay yourself, hopefully you’re capturing that forage at a high quality and saving it for use later. This allows you to know what hay you have and where it came from. The downside is that there are significant costs associated with the supplies used to bale, the maintenance and cost of running the equipment, your labor, and let’s not forget the opportunity costs. Could your time be better used elsewhere rather than running the equipment? Is there a better use of the forage that you baled? Purchasing your hay from an outside source is another alternative that is widely used. I often recommend this method to the cattle producers I work with. In most years, this option allows them to capitalize on the forages someone else has grown and then market it through a higher valued, marketable item — beef. By optimizing the forages they grow

Mike Rankin

BALE OR GRAZE?

on an annual basis, and supplementing with hay that is brought in, producers are able to boost stocking capacity while bringing in the nutrients captured through the hay. Again, this is true in most but not all years. Some years when the price of hay is high and the price of cattle is low, it may work out better for a cattle operation to bale its own forage for hay, if it’s available. When it comes down to it, there really isn’t a way to compare baling hay versus growing forage. It’s really about looking for that optimal way to use your grown forage. There are benefits and drawbacks to baling or grazing forage. Knowing what works best requires an understanding of your inputs and the value of your marketed product. • JASON BRADLEY The author is an agricultural economics consultant with the Noble Research Institute, Ardmore, Okla.

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Mike Rankin

The Woodchuck Custom Harvesting crew operates in several northeastern states. From left to right: Allen Paradee, Richie Rainville, and Patrick Rainville.

Communication and support lead to business success by Mike Rankin

R

ICHIE Rainville grew up on a dairy farm in the far northern reaches of Vermont, near the town of Highgate and about 2 miles from the Canadian border. Always being somewhat of a machinery guy, he had dreams of going West and working on a harvest crew. That didn’t quite work out . . . but something else did. Rainville began working for his cousin, who had a custom forage harvesting business. He cut his teeth running the forage harvester. Following that stint, he drove chopper for a large dairy farm for one year. Then, in 2003, one of the few custom harvesters in the area was looking to retire and approached Rainville to see if he wanted to buy his business. Soon after, Woodchuck Custom Harvesting was born. Woodchuck isn’t the largest custom

harvesting outfit that you’ll come across. Rainville has two full-time employees and an arsenal of part-time support. He currently runs two choppers — a John Deere 8600 and 7480. Woodchuck also has two H&S hay mergers. Mowing, packing, and trucking are all subcontracted. “We’ve tried to become a lot more efficient over the past few years with larger equipment,” Rainville noted. Rainville has client farms in Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire. His crew harvests grass and alfalfa hay, corn silage, and earlage. In a given year, they chop about 8,000 acres of hay, 2,400 acres of corn silage, and make 300 to 1,200 acres of earlage. Northern Vermont is not exactly the Great Plains in terms of geography and weather. “We have challenging weather and a lot of smaller fields,” Rainville explained. “We have to travel long distances for small fields, so we have to be

efficient in terms of our harvesting, but I guess everyone has their challenges regardless of where they operate.”

Communication is key Most of Rainville’s 12 to 15 dairy clients use his services every year. “They’re excellent about communicating when their crops are getting close to harvest time. Most all of my customers are very flexible. My clients are super to work with. They understand that I can’t make all my payments on one job. I’ve got to have everyone to make this business work.” Communication doesn’t end with the growing season. “We are in constant communication with customers, even during the winter,” Rainville said. “They’re great about letting me know if they will be adding or subtracting land.” One of Rainville’s customers is Copperhill Farm, located in Fairfax, Vt. Jim Magnan and his two sons operate the 550-cow dairy. “We see a lot

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of advantages to custom harvesting,� Magnan explained. “We’ve been doing it for over 12 years. It’s challenging for a farm like ours to own all of the equipment and hire the labor to run it. We do cut our own hay, but Richie takes it from there. You just have to have good communication. If operated like Congress, this arrangement would never work. You’ve got to work together,� he added.

A strong support team Rainville emphasized that without a strong support team he would never be able to stay in business. “First, we have great local machinery dealer support,� he said. “They keep us running regardless of the day or the time. If I need a part, they will get it to me if it’s in stock or pull it off a machine they have on the lot.� The young entrepreneur also doesn’t have a problem contracting with the operators who take care of the mowing, packing, and trucking. “I call them and they are ready to go,� Rainville said.

“Hayfields are sometimes seeded with alfalfa, but it usually doesn’t stick around for more than a couple of years,� Rainville said. “In a normal year, we begin first crop between May 20 and 28 and try to get the grasses off before they start to head. Normally, we cut at about 3 inches to promote regrowth and lower the ash levels,� he added. “For corn silage, we run with the processor rolls as tight as we can get them from start to finish,� Rainville noted. “Our kernel processing scores generally range

from the low 70s to low 80s. We put in new rolls every year if they need it. I don’t want to get a call that the feed isn’t good enough, and we don’t want to be swapping out rolls in the middle of harvest.â€? Rainville has no plans to change drastically in the future. “We’ll take on new clients where it makes sense, but I think we’re at a good size to service everyone and do a good job,â€? he said. “I’m focused on putting up excellent feed so that my clients can stay economically viable by making as much milk as they can.â€? •

    Â Â? 

Mike Rankin

Jim Magnan (left) discusses his harvest plan with Richie Rainville.

With only two employees, Rainville knows he can’t run 24/7. “Depending on the weather, we’ll go all night if we have to,� Rainville explained. “Otherwise, we try to get employees home for family time, if possible. I’ve got a 1-year-old myself now, and that sort of changes your outlook on what’s important.� Rainville’s wife, Virginia, grew up on a dairy and still works on the family farm in the morning before going to teach special education at a local school. “I could never see myself in an office job or factory,� Rainville said. “This is an all-in or all-out occupation, but I’m really lucky to have such a supportive wife and client base, and that’s what makes this business so rewarding.�

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Grasses rule Most of the hay crop fields in northern Vermont are grass-based and cut on a 25- to 30-day interval. Typically, four cuttings are harvested per year.

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Your Checkoff Dollars At Work

New herbicide helps fight plantain Hay & Forage Grower is featuring results of research projects funded through the Alfalfa Checkoff, officially named the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative, administered by National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA). The checkoff program facilitates farmer-funded research.

A

LFALFA farmers may have one more weapon to use in their battle against plantain, a notoriously difficult-to-control weed in alfalfa cropping systems, according to Leslie Beck, a New Mexico State University (NMSU) extension weed specialist. Using Alfalfa Checkoff research funding, Beck evaluated the performance of Sharpen (saflufenacil), a BASF herbicide recently labeled for use on dormant alfalfa, to control plantain. The herbicide was as effective as other commercially available herbicides in injuring common and buckhorn plantain and didn’t negatively affect alfalfa yield. Like the other herbicides in farmers’ arsenals, Sharpen didn’t completely control plantain, added Beck, but it does use a different mode of action, which can help to slow development of herbicide resistance. “Almost since I first started here (in 2015), I was getting inquiries from alfalfa farmers about how to better control plantain in alfalfa,” Beck said. “I would say plantain is up there with the more difficult weeds to control in alfalfa simply because the nature of the plant itself makes it extremely difficult to control.” Both buckhorn and common plantain have broad, leathery, thick leaves and are covered with scratchy hairs. “Therefore, it is very difficult for an herbicide to penetrate through that barrier to actually move into the plant and translocate the way it needs to in order for a systemic herbicide to work,” Beck said. Because alfalfa is also a broadleaf plant, herbicide options to control plantain without injuring the crop are limited. Plus, both plantains, like alfalfa, are perennials and have extensive taproot systems. “Plantains have almost a network of fibrous roots,” Beck said. “When you have multiple thickened roots like that, it’s very difficult for one application of an herbicide to be that effective on it. And if you don’t injure the root system, the plant keeps coming back every

year,” she added. In September 2017, she and NMSU colleagues Mark Marsalis, an extension forage specialist, and Leonard Lauriault, a forage crop management scientist, began growing both types of plantain in greenhouse trials. The scientists’ goal: To compare the efficacy of Sharpen with standard herbicides currently being used to fight the LESLIE BECK weeds. Nine herbiNMSU $6,309 cide treatments and application rates were tested. “High (2 fluid ounces [fl oz] per acre) and low (1 fl oz per acre) rates of Sharpen provided pretty high levels of injury to the plantain that we had in the greenhouse,” she said. “Sharpen tankmixed with Pursuit and with Raptor were initially the ones that showed the highest significant amount of injury on both plantain types. But as the trial progressed, injury from those two combination products was still comparable

to what we were seeing with the high rate of Sharpen.” None of the herbicides provided 100 percent control.

Repeated in the field A field study testing herbicide effects on alfalfa growth and yields began December 2017 at NMSU’s Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center. As with the greenhouse trial, Sharpen and eight other herbicides labeled for dormant-season alfalfa were applied — this time to an established, healthy, conventional alfalfa stand. Because of southern New Mexico’s warm temperatures and longer daily photoperiods, alfalfa tends to slow in growth rather than show true dormancy, so herbicide applications were made December 1 to allow alfalfa to recover during slowed fall growth. Fall is also the best time to apply herbicides to plantain because they hit the weed when it’s at its weakest — redirecting carbohydrates and other nutrients to its roots for survival, Beck explained. Alfalfa showed “no detectable differences” in injury or slowed growth from any of the herbicide treatments

applications of Sharpen versus other herbicides.

Project results • Sharpen provided similar injury to common and buckhorn plantain as compared to commercially available herbicides, with minimal effects on alfalfa yield.

Project objectives: • Compare weed control performance of Sharpen against commercially available herbicide products on common and buckhorn plantain grown under greenhouse conditions. • Evaluate the effects on alfalfa regarding damage symptoms and yield reduction resulting from

• Sharpen often displayed greater injury to both plantain species as compared to the nontreated control, with minimal negative impacts on alfalfa, but did not prevent weed recovery over time. • When combined with Raptor or Pursuit, Sharpen did increase injury to plantain, although not enough to prevent weed recovery.

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— except Roundup (glyphosate), applied at 44 oz per acre to assess potential control of plantain in Roundup Ready alfalfa. Beck thought the glyphosate-treated conventional alfalfa was never going to recover from the injury. But the alfalfa regrouped with growth that spring and, ultimately, still had a comparable yield to that of the untreated control. Yields were similar for Sharpen-treated alfalfa as compared

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to other herbicide-treated alfalfa plots and the untreated control. A second year of Alfalfa Checkoff funding allowed Beck to look at potential tank-mix combinations with Sharpen as well as sequential applications. “We wanted to see if making a second application 45 days later would enhance injury to the plantain itself. But we also had to see if that had an effect on the alfalfa yield for that next spring crop.”

“We’re trying to figure out the nuances with our timings with tank mixes in order to make management more impactful. I think farmers could take the information from this initial study and start fine-tuning their weed management practices,” she added. • View Beck’s NAFA report at bit.ly/ HFG-plantain.

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Maximize your bud bank by Robert Fears

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N A recent Texas Range Webinar, Morgan Treadwell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension range specialist, revealed a new approach to range management through a better understanding of how native grasses grow. She discussed how an understanding of the reproductive and growth methods of native grasses helps improve management decisions. Experienced range managers can determine plant composition and forage density by looking across pastures, but plant underground components are often overlooked. Underground plant structures are responsible for what occurs aboveground and provide the science for grassland management. The functional understanding of plant underground processes and components has not progressed as rapidly as our knowledge of aboveground plant structures. Research has shown that perennial grasses reproduce by vegetative processes through asexual reproduction. The contribution of seed to maintain an established grassland is less than 1 percent. Treadwell noted that this is contradictory to earlier range science research that suggested seed head formation was necessary for perennial grass reproduction.

oped in the soil to facilitate regrowth after top growth is destroyed by fire, grazing, or drought. Variances in bud banks occur due to differences in plant photosynthetic pathways (cool- versus warm-season grasses) and growth forms such as bunch grasses versus rhizomatous plants. Vegetative buds are produced by meristematic tissue that exists in each junction of a leaf and a stem (also called a tiller). In plants, the meristem is an area of tissue from which new growth is formed. Vegetative bud functions are very complex, yet research continues to uncover more information on their function in perennial grass growth processes and how these processes differ among perennial grass species. Bud banks contain three different types of buds — active, dormant, and dead. Active buds are resources for reproduction, but they require an environmental impulse such as rain, fire, or grazing to initiate tiller growth. Vegetative buds can begin tiller growth in as little as 24 hours after receiving

an impulse. These new tillers grow new buds, which replenish the bud bank. Dormant buds perform like a savings account; they become an active bud depository when stimulated by a disturbance such as fire or grazing. A second impulse mobilizes them to produce tillers and enter the bud replenishment cycle. Dormant buds can live six to 10 years or even longer. Dead buds do not contain meristem, and as a result, they can never become activated. If a plant has too many dead buds, it becomes meristem limited. When too many plants are meristem limited, that particular species disappears from the plant community. Disappearance may be temporary or permanent depending upon management decisions.

Most growth from buds Perennial grasses have the ability to produce by both buds and seed even though greater than 99 percent of new tiller growth comes from the bud bank. Buds are long-lived with a life of up to five years or greater, but

Vegetative bud characteristics of some major grasses* Maximum number of buds

Minimum number of buds

Tightly clustered bud zone Large overwintering bud bank Dense buds Many leaf scars

6

4

Buffalo grass

Short Buds fragile

5

2

Hairy grama

Short and clustered rhizomes Lots of budding from rhizomes

3

1

Hall panicum

Very short Hairy rhizomes

4

2

Kleingrass

Lots of aboveground axillary buds

13

7

KR bluestem

Lots of aboveground axillary buds

22

12

12

6

8

2

Sand dropseed

8

2

Sideoats grama

16

4

Species

General notes on bud zone appearance

Blue grama

Bud bank deposits Plant components within a few inches below the soil surface play a major role in maintaining reproduction and density of every native grass species. Research, beginning in 2000, showed vegetative buds at or beneath the soil surface are responsible for plant reproduction. The amount of buds that exist on a single grass plant is called the bud bank, and in 2004, research documented that more than 99 percent of new tillers are produced from this bank. Through evolution, bud banks develROBERT FEARS The author is a freelance writer based in Plano, Texas.

Little bluestem Purple threeawn

Buds form up to first node

Silver bluestem

Hairy nodes Higher branching due to buds up to 3 or 4 nodes

8

5

Texas wintergrass

Meristem limited Small overwintering bud bank Small buds Limited dormant buds

4

1

Western wheatgrass

Large buds spaced far apart Large overwintering bud bank Mimics warm-season grass below ground Rapid activation from bud bank Rapid tillering

12

Need 4 Mugshot

*Adapted from https://agrilife.org/howgrassesgrow

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seeds are short-lived at one year or less. Bud life varies among grass species, and research is currently focused on determining which species have the longer living buds. Vegetative buds respond quickly to environmental change, and examination of the bud bank provides an indication of future plant community composition. Seeds possess more genetic variability than buds and have the ability to travel long distances. A disadvantage is the increased mortality of seeds in relation to vegetative buds, which makes perennial grass more difficult to establish by seeding. Even so, establishment of perennial grass from seed has been more heavily researched than establishment by vegetative buds. Research has revealed differences in bud banks between cool-season and warm-season grasses. Cool-season grasses have a smaller bud bank, and the buds are short-lived at one to two years. The bud banks are almost entirely depleted during a growing season and are sensitive to environmental conditions. Because of their bud bank characteristics, cool-season grasses are prone to disappear from the plant community when environmental conditions are unfavorable for plant growth. Warm-season grasses have an extensive dormant bud bank, and since the buds are long-lived, they are multi-aged. Due to these characteristics, warm-season grasses can respond quickly and positively to rainfall. In addition, warm-season grasses are better able to sustain themselves through dry periods than are cool-season species.

Seed is still important Tim Steffens, an extension range specialist at West Texas A&M University, offers the following on the Texas A&M “How Grasses Grow” website (agrilife.org/howgrassesgrow): “Quantifying and describing bud bank densities for dominant grasses will greatly improve the ability to apply appropriate range management strategies. For example, bud banks of various perennial grasses are affected differently by the season in which natural or prescribed burns occur and the duration and intensity of fire intervals and grazing timing. Employing strategies that maximize bud bank densities is paramount in maintaining healthy native grass populations, plant diversity, and plant community resiliency.” Steffens continues, “This does not mean, however, that allowing plants to periodically produce seed is unnecessary. What it does mean is that vegetative reproduction is normally the most rapid method of increasing stand percentage of a preferred species. Perennial native grass plants should produce seed often enough to replace dead plants, ensuring a plant population with high vigor and a viable seed bank in the soil.” Bud banks are assessed by digging a clump of grass and carefully separating the tillers. Buds at the bottom of the tillers are then stained with dye, which causes active buds to turn red, leaving the dormant buds in their natural colors. The plants are then placed under a microscope and the dormant buds are counted. Currently available data on bud characteristics and densities of some dominant grasses are shown in the table . An understanding of bud bank influences on aboveground growth habits of the listed grasses is easily seen by studying the data. For instance, KR bluestem — a prolific invader — easily forms monocultures and has from 12 to 22 buds. Research has shown that any type of disturbance will activate this plentiful bud supply to develop new tillers. •

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All photos: Brosnan Family

by Loretta Sorensen

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IKE Brosnan grew up in the James River Valley in eastern South Dakota, an area he said is “one of the best alfalfa-producing parts of the country.” And Brosnan makes the most of his resources, producing non-irrigated, fine-stemmed, dairy-quality alfalfa on about 2,500 acres. His remaining 5,500 acres are planted to corn, soybeans, and sometimes winter wheat. Brosnan Farms includes Brosnan, his wife, Yvonne, daughter, Jackie, and her husband, Derik. Derik oversees the grain crops while Brosnan takes care of the hay. Yvonne, who manages the farm’s bookkeeping, is a registered nurse who works a few days a week at a local clinic and helps operate haying equipment. Jackie is also a registered nurse and works off the farm. The Brosnan’s youngest daughter, Laura, and her husband live in Minneapolis, Minn. Both the girls grew up working alongside their parents in the hayfields.

Consistent growth As a youngster, Brosnan worked with his father, stacking small square alfalfa bales. In 1986, Brosnan was just 28 when his father, Walter, passed away. To settle the family estate, Brosnan’s mother had to sell all but two quarters of their farmland. Brosnan rented the remaining land from his mother and started growing alfalfa himself. “I also bought and sold hay to farms across the Midwest,” Brosnan said. “As land became available to buy or rent,

I added more acres. Starting out with 240 acres and already buying and selling hay, it was a natural progression to start raising it,” he added. Over the years, Brosnan has expanded the farm into one of the most extensive alfalfa operations in South Dakota. Most of his customers are dairy farmers. “A few other farmers in this area raise and sell hay as I do,” Brosnan said. “But most sell to hay brokers. We don’t see our hay operation as just selling hay. We’re selling a relationship that’s centered around honesty, consistency, and reliability.” Honesty is Brosnan’s primary focus, which is probably the reason some customers buy 30 to 40 semi loads of his hay each year. His client base is broad, numbering between 40 to 60 customers each year. “It’s a lot of record-keeping, which Yvonne handles now,” he said. “But knowing we produce the quality these customers need makes it worth it.”

Quality is a priority One of Brosnan’s selling points for his alfalfa is the fact that he doesn’t have to irrigate, which contributes to the fine-stemmed quality of his bales. Soils on his land range from deep sand to heavy gumbo. A high-water table lying under the soil surface means his alfalfa crops can tap into the abundant water supply to produce bumper yields. South Dakota’s hot, dry summers add to the near-perfect conditions necessary for harvesting the crops. He obtains soil samples each year and works with an agronomist to assess soil fertility. He also applies herbicides each fall to control grass and broadleaf weeds.

Brosnan developed his own alfalfa business in the late 1980s. He focuses on producing high-quality alfalfa.

“If I had my choice, I would always plant alfalfa in spring following soybeans or wheat,” Brosnan said. “Both crops leave a great seedbed to plant into, but that’s not always how our rotation works out.” Since Brosnan’s alfalfa isn’t irrigated, it grows somewhat slower, is less coarse, and contains added feed value. If he used irrigation, he would probably realize some extra yield. Still, by not irrigating, Brosnan eliminates a water bill and is able to produce the forage quality that dairy farmers seek. “I find new customers who are sometimes skeptical of how I describe my hay quality,” Brosnan said. “They’re concerned that I may be exaggerating the quality. Many have been taken advantage of by someone who’s just concerned about selling one load of hay instead of building a relationship.” One of Brosnan’s assets are fields that average 160 acres. The size of each field means he can produce large quantities of hay with consistent quality. Another important aspect of his operation is attention to detail. Brosnan assesses every point of production from LORETTA SORENSEN The author is a freelance writer based in Yankton, S.D.

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All photos: Brosnan Family

the time the seed is selected to the cutting, raking, baling, and storing. “I want to know the hay from start to finish so I can deliver high-quality alfalfa,” Brosnan said. To determine relative feed value (RFV) and other quality metrics for each hay lot, Brosnan tests it to ensure that he can back up his guarantee for customer satisfaction. Customers also appreciate Brosnan’s longer term contracts and his practice of honoring contract prices during times when hay costs rise. “I treat people like I’d like to be treated,” Brosnan said.

400 acres per day Among Brosnan’s equipment are three New Holland self-propelled discbine mower-conditioners with 16-foot heads, six Rowse rakes, and five Hesston 3x4x8-foot square balers with accumulators. They also use two Case wheel loaders and five 53-foot semitrailers to load and transport bales. More than 10,000 tons of hay can be stored in 18 open-sided buildings. “I have 110,000 square feet of total storage,” Brosnan said. On a typical day, Brosnan and his team can bale 200 acres of alfalfa in two hours. Ideally, a good day means putting up more than 400 acres of hay. During haying and harvest season, the Brosnans employ between eight and 10 additional people. “One of our challenges here is to find seasonal employees,” Brosnan said. “Most of my full-time help comes from South Africa.”

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Increased Yield Better Nutrition More Milk Per Acre Mike and Yvonne Brosnan have always worked together to achieve their hay production goals. Both their daughters also assisted with hay production as they were growing up.

Each winter, while haying equipment is at a standstill, Brosnan brings in a skilled baler mechanic he knows from Kearney, Neb. “He can fix anything,” Brosnan said. Brosnan is always on the lookout for “that perfect bale.” He continually learns about changes in hay production and quality, incorporating appropriate information into his operation. With the flooding in South Dakota during 2019, Brosnan lost about 900 acres of alfalfa. He expects to replace it with new seeding in 2020. “Weather is always a factor,” Brosnan said. “When we’re able to beat the rain and bale some nice hay, then hear a customer say, ‘I just love this hay,’ it’s a great feeling,” he explained. “I think the most important thing I learned from my father is to be honest about the product you sell and don’t promise something you can’t back up,” Brosnan said about the key to a successful hay business. •

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Learn more about Brosnan Farms at www.brosnanfarms.com. January 2020 | hayandforage.com | 19

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EQUIPMENT FOCUS

Small haying technologies can offer returns by Jordan Milewski

accessories and equipment designs can help you get back into the field faster.

L

Efficient cutting

AST season was a challenging one for hay production. Wet weather pushed growers to cut hay later than desired, diminishing forage quality and yields. The season served as a reminder that although we can’t control the weather, there are things we can do. When difficult conditions persist, leveraging technology can play an important role in minimizing negative impacts. Precision farming technology can help maximize hay yields while alleviating stress on you, your operation, and your haymaking equipment. Simple, easy-to-use tech additions to new and older equipment can help haymakers maximize efficiency and reduce other variables like fuel costs and time. Other

It all starts with cutting, conditioning, and swathing. It’s important to achieve the proper forage cut and conditioning, especially when weather conditions play a factor. Raise cutting heights and take advantage of wide conditioning systems for fast dry down. Aftermarket fixed and adjustable dealer-installed skids are available to help boost cutting heights and lower the risk for high forage ash content. A variety of blade angles are available to help ensure a clean cut and even finish. To protect your mower and crop, hydraulically controlled blade height lets you tip back in rocky conditions. A dealer-installed hydraulic tilt kit with more adjustments is available for many

older models. In thick and wet crops, accessory disc lifter kits and replacement wearing parts are recommended to smooth crop feeding. To cut as efficiently as possible, a variety of easy-to-use technologies are available. Simple and affordable, a light bar display provides haymakers with an entry level guidance solution. Assisted steering guidance systems are the next level of performance. They reduce manual steering and improve cutting accuJORDAN MILEWSKI The author is the crop preparation marketing manager for New Holland, North America.

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racy. This allows the operator to focus on the task at hand, which is frequently behind the tractor, significantly reducing operator fatigue while improving productivity and work quality. Besides reducing operator fatigue, these systems improve efficiency throughout the haymaking process. Even less skilled operators can produce more consistent, evenly dried, parallel swaths that are easier to ted, rake, and bale. Today’s aftermarket assisted steering and guidance systems are easy to retrofit to older tractor models and are simpler to operate and less costly than previous versions.

cooler. This prevents heat binding of proteins, making more protein available while also extending ring-feeding time. It also means fewer bales per acre, lowering bale tying, film wrapping, and handling costs. You can adjust bale density for the crop and moisture. For convenience, the latest round balers are available with in-cab bale density controls.

Watch the water Moisture is likely the single most important factor influencing hay quality. When it’s time to bale, leveraging an on-board moisture sensor helps you know when to bale or move on to another row. On-board moisture sensors give you accurate and real-time data that will allow you to maximize the nutritional content of your forage. Factory sensors are available as dealer-installed accessories for many models. Make the most of short weather windows with a hay preservative system. A hay preservative allows baling at a higher moisture level while lowering the risk for heating and spoilage. Hay preservatives maintain the hay’s green color, are safe for livestock, and won’t corrode machines. Choose an easy-to-use manual system or the more advanced automatic applicator.

Baler tech Unlock the potential to work faster and easier with baling automation. When it comes to round baling, the full-bale alarm can be annoying with multiple hours in the cab. The latest ISOBUS-equipped round balers can take the stress out of operation by automatically stopping the baler, tying, ejecting, then closing the tailgate for you. When lower cost per bale and higher forage quality matters, a dense bale is a must. A recent Penn State University study confirmed higher density silage round bales retain greater forage quality by excluding more oxygen during the fermentation process, keeping bale temperatures

An on-board moisture sensor will quickly tell you when to stop baling or move on to a different windrow.

When the weather is right and it’s time to bale, uptime and reliability are essential. Aftermarket chain oiling and automatic greasing systems reduce periodic maintenance to save time and ensure your equipment is ready to roll. Take advantage of dealer-installed accessory kits for many older and latemodel round balers. A winter upgrade to endless belts will help ensure trouble-free performance throughout the season. Alternatively, stock belt lacing kits for when you need them. You can improve performance when baling higher moisture crops with aftermarket round baler performance kits. In difficult conditions, roll scraper and tailgate chopping roll kits improve uptime. Whether you choose a high-tech or low-tech solution, many new technologies and aftermarket tools are available to help you maximize your efforts. Start by accepting the things you cannot control, then take the right steps to influence those you can.

A variety of nondigital and technology tools are available to help optimize forage quality so you can maximize your haymaking return on investment. •

MAKE THE PERFECT BALE • Cut as efficiently as possible. Even with older equipment, choose an easyto-use and affordable light bar display. Assisted steering guidance systems are the next level of performance. • Raise the cutting height to reduce forage ash content. A variety of blade angles are available from your dealer to help ensure a clean cut and even finish. • Lay it wide and update or replace worn cutting parts. A cleaner cut boosts harvested yield. Smooth feeding enhances conditioning. Wide swath for fast crop dry down. • On-board moisture sensors give you accurate and real-time data, so you know when to bale or move on to another row. This will help maximize forage nutritional content. • Crop preservative systems let you bale at higher moisture levels while also preventing heating and spoilage. Both manual and automated systems are available. • Boost bale density to lower your cost per bale and retain higher forage quality. Higher bale density improves baleage fermentation, extends feeding time, and lowers per bale cost. • Replace your baler belts during the winter months. Choose endless belts for reliability and to produce a uniform, high-density bale that maximizes nutritional value. • Use only high-quality net and film wrap to keep bales densely packed and protected from the elements, locking in nutritional value. • Reduce periodic maintenance with aftermarket chain oiling and automatic greasing systems that help save time and ensure equipment is ready to roll. • Take advantage of aftermarket performance kits to improve operating efficiency. January 2020 | hayandforage.com | 21

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racy. This allows the operator to focus on the task at hand, which is frequently behind the tractor, significantly reducing operator fatigue while improving productivity and work quality. Besides reducing operator fatigue, these systems improve efficiency throughout the haymaking process. Even less skilled operators can produce more consistent, evenly dried, parallel swaths that are easier to ted, rake, and bale. Today’s aftermarket assisted steering and guidance systems are easy to retrofit to older tractor models and are simpler to operate and less costly than previous versions.

cooler. This prevents heat binding of proteins, making more protein available while also extending ring-feeding time. It also means fewer bales per acre, lowering bale tying, film wrapping, and handling costs. You can adjust bale density for the crop and moisture. For convenience, the latest round balers are available with in-cab bale density controls.

Watch the water Moisture is likely the single most important factor influencing hay quality. When it’s time to bale, leveraging an on-board moisture sensor helps you know when to bale or move on to another row. On-board moisture sensors give you accurate and real-time data that will allow you to maximize the nutritional content of your forage. Factory sensors are available as dealer-installed accessories for many models. Make the most of short weather windows with a hay preservative system. A hay preservative allows baling at a higher moisture level while lowering the risk for heating and spoilage. Hay preservatives maintain the hay’s green color, are safe for livestock, and won’t corrode machines. Choose an easy-to-use manual system or the more advanced automatic applicator.

Baler tech Unlock the potential to work faster and easier with baling automation. When it comes to round baling, the full-bale alarm can be annoying with multiple hours in the cab. The latest ISOBUS-equipped round balers can take the stress out of operation by automatically stopping the baler, tying, ejecting, then closing the tailgate for you. When lower cost per bale and higher forage quality matters, a dense bale is a must. A recent Penn State University study confirmed higher density silage round bales retain greater forage quality by excluding more oxygen during the fermentation process, keeping bale temperatures

An on-board moisture sensor will quickly tell you when to stop baling or move on to a different windrow.

When the weather is right and it’s time to bale, uptime and reliability are essential. Aftermarket chain oiling and automatic greasing systems reduce periodic maintenance to save time and ensure your equipment is ready to roll. Take advantage of dealer-installed accessory kits for many older and latemodel round balers. A winter upgrade to endless belts will help ensure trouble-free performance throughout the season. Alternatively, stock belt lacing kits for when you need them. You can improve performance when baling higher moisture crops with aftermarket round baler performance kits. In difficult conditions, roll scraper and tailgate chopping roll kits improve uptime. Whether you choose a high-tech or low-tech solution, many new technologies and aftermarket tools are available to help you maximize your efforts. Start by accepting the things you cannot control, then take the right steps to influence those you can.

A variety of nondigital and technology tools are available to help optimize forage quality so you can maximize your haymaking return on investment. •

MAKE THE PERFECT BALE • Cut as efficiently as possible. Even with older equipment, choose an easyto-use and affordable light bar display. Assisted steering guidance systems are the next level of performance. • Raise the cutting height to reduce forage ash content. A variety of blade angles are available from your dealer to help ensure a clean cut and even finish. • Lay it wide and update or replace worn cutting parts. A cleaner cut boosts harvested yield. Smooth feeding enhances conditioning. Wide swath for fast crop dry down. • On-board moisture sensors give you accurate and real-time data, so you know when to bale or move on to another row. This will help maximize forage nutritional content. • Crop preservative systems let you bale at higher moisture levels while also preventing heating and spoilage. Both manual and automated systems are available. • Boost bale density to lower your cost per bale and retain higher forage quality. Higher bale density improves baleage fermentation, extends feeding time, and lowers per bale cost. • Replace your baler belts during the winter months. Choose endless belts for reliability and to produce a uniform, high-density bale that maximizes nutritional value. • Use only high-quality net and film wrap to keep bales densely packed and protected from the elements, locking in nutritional value. • Reduce periodic maintenance with aftermarket chain oiling and automatic greasing systems that help save time and ensure equipment is ready to roll. • Take advantage of aftermarket performance kits to improve operating efficiency. January 2020 | hayandforage.com | 21

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EQUIPMENT FOCUS

FIFTY YEARS OF HAYING PROGRESS

by Glenn Shewmaker

I

WAS answering a question about a hay steamer and large baler train from a former custom baler when it occurred to me of the incredible changes in equipment, technology, and management for making hay. In the late 1960s, I stacked two-string, 80-pound bales on a bale wagon hitched behind a Freeman baler with a chute that pushed the bales up to waist height. We used a Farmhand loader with a bale fork to transfer 11 bales at a time from four quarters of the wagon to a stack. Most of our neighbors hired the hay stacked by truck with an elevator along the side. Stacking several layers high on a truck moving through the field was risky work. My high school buddies were paid a half cent per bale, and the truck cost was 2 cents per bale, if I remember correctly. A few farmers stacked on a slip pulled behind the baler and slid off about eight to 10 bales in a bunch, which could then be picked up by a Farmhand grapple . . . I always wanted one of those. The advantages of the first system were that bales didn’t touch the ground after baling and were immediately off the field and in a stack. The disadvantages were that it took a crew of six: baler driver, wagon stacker, two wagon shuttle drivers, loader operator, and stacker.

A different day We would put up about 1,000 bales or about 40 tons in a good eight- to 10-hour

day. Another four hours were spent milking, irrigating, and doing other chores. We usually took an hour for a noon lunch with the haying crew with meat, potatoes, pie, a gallon of iced tea, and colorful stories from my dad and uncles. These days, a 4x4x8-foot baler can spit out about 40 tons per hour, and a truck stacker can roadside it immediately. Essentially, modern baling equipment has about 10 times the capacity of that which was used in the 1960s and requires only two people. The addition of a steamer and preservative applicator creates an aroundthe-clock baling window. This equipment also can improve yield and quality of the hay by retaining more leaves and limiting the microbial activity in the hay.

It comes at a cost We used 1940s’ and 1950s’ International Harvester (IH) M tractors on the baler and loader, costing $800 and $1,000; two late 1940s’ Ford N’s to pull hay wagons ($600 each); and three hay wagons that were shop-built from old car chassis at about $100 each. We probably hayed about 300 to 500 acres total per year. Now a 180 horsepower tractor, large baler, and stacker can cost a combined $600,000 to $750,000. Custom rates to rake and bale are from $7 to $10 per ton, and stacking is from $1 to $2.50 per bale. A hidden cost is the soil compaction caused by the big iron. You could hang a Ford 8N on the front of a newer, largeframed tractor and it wouldn’t weigh

Haying in the late 1950s bears little resemblance to what we witness today.

more than the weights and ballast it runs with. I understand that duals on the front and rear axles, along with weights, smooth the ride, but some of this weight is unjustified for haying purposes. No, I wouldn’t go back to the “good old days” either. Besides, the younger generation has no idea of how to hand stack hay while surviving the truck ride. However, it is good to ruminate over the changes. Though we’re certainly more efficient than days gone by, we still need to strive to minimize the downside and optimize the advantages of the newer equipment and systems. • GLENN SHEWMAKER The author is a forage extension agronomist with the University of Idaho. He recently attended his 50year high school reunion and was inspired to reflect.

22 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2020

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FORAGE GEARHEAD

by Adam Verner critical, and you can look at the knot tail to help gauge if the setting is correct. The tail should be around 3/4 inch in length with a clean, even cut.

Mike Rankin

Spring to action

Tying the KNOT

I

KNOW a lot of farmers are glad to see #Harvest19 come to an end. It sure has been a trying year for most. Our planting and harvest windows seem to shorten every year, and we need to be prepared when we hit the fields in 2020. So, this winter is a great time to get your machinery in the shop for some thorough maintenance. One of the most dreaded and feared pieces to work on is not the combine rotor concaves; it’s not even the kernel processer in your chopper. There are probably more cuss words and tools thrown at this item than any other essential mechanism on your farm. You guessed it . . . it’s your square baler knotters! Knotters have not changed very much over the decades. The same Raaspe knotters have been around for years, and yet most people still find them very intimidating. For most of the world, there are two basic knotters: the Raaspe single knotter and the Raaspe double knotter. The single knotter is more commonly found on small square balers, both two- and three-tie units. The double knotter is found on today’s large square balers, as well as the bale baron square bale bundlers. Though you can still find a few new units with single knotters, they are not on the newer high-density models seen here in the United States. Claas, however, did redesign the knotter used on its Quadrant large square balers and use their own designed single knotter across its line of large square balers. The easiest way I know how to explain the difference between the two types of Raaspe knotters is really quite simple. The single knotter holds the twine in the twine disc or twine holder while baling. The double knotter does not have any twine in the knotter while building the

bale. Rather, it ties one knot to finish off the bale it just completed, followed by a second knot to start the next bale in the chamber. Also, another dead giveaway is the sheer size of the knotter itself. Small square balers use a knot strength twine ranging from 130 to 190 pound-force (lbf). The double knotters can handle a wider range from 350 up to 700 lbf knot strength on the high-density balers. Thus, the size to hold this rope that we now use as twine needs to be quite a bit larger.

Keep knives sharp Let’s go over a few things you can check on your knotter while in the shop and look at a few common reasons for missed ties that you may see in the field. Probably one of the most common problems is simply with the twine knife. This part makes a lot of cuts through tough twine, and I recommend that you replace these yearly as the knives are cheap and easier to replace while in the shop rather than in a dust bowl during 90-degree heat. One of the next most common items to cause a bird’s nest in your knotter is the billhook. This bird’s nest can look like a bluebird dream home if not detected in time. The billhook spins and is what ties the knot in the twine. It gets its name for the way it looks like a duck bill and it has a hook on it. The hook commonly does not open and doesn’t allow the twine to slide off the bill. The roller on the end of the hook can get damaged or break, causing the hook not to release. The knotter has springs that adjust the tension on the bill hook, forcing the knot to tighten faster or slower. If the spring tension is too strong, the knot will hang up on the bill hook. If too loose, there will not be a knot at all. This setting is

The twine retainer or twine disc is another vital piece to this process. It actually holds the twine while a small square baler is building the bale, or in the case of the large square baler, it holds the twine in between the first and second knots. The twine retainers determine how long the tails are on the knots. If you notice on your large square baler that one end of the twine has a knot, but the other end does not, then the twine disc did not hold it properly. The tension can be adjusted by a bolt which moves the twine holder spring or springs, and in this case, the tension was too low. Both of these springs do not require big adjustments; something like 1/8 of a turn is plenty. Both the spring tensions on the billhook and twine retainer are critical parts to tying the knot, but first we must make sure the twine makes it to the right place in the knotter. Here, I’m talking about the needles that bring the twine up through the bale chamber when it’s time to tie off a bale. Each baler manufacturer will have a different measurement to center the needle and for how far the needle penetrates through the knotters. You should refer to your operator’s manual for these measurements and both should be checked on an annual basis. These are simple to adjust by tightening or loosening the bolts holding the needles to the yoke. This was a quick overview into a very intimidating part on your most essential haymaking tool, but if you can make these adjustments each year, they can save a lot of sweat and tears the next summer. A blower and a little grease never hurt any knotter either. Be sure to check with the local knotter expert at your dealership, and they can help you identify what is the root cause of the missed ties. Most of the time there is an obvious reason rather than one hiding in the bird’s nest. • ADAM VERNER The author is a managing partner in Elite Ag LLC, Leesburg, Ga. He also is active in the family farm in Rutledge.

January 2020 | Hay & Forage Grower | 23

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EQUIPMENT FOCUS

Wheel traffic reduces alfalfa yield by Brian Luck

I

N LATE 2018, the University of Wisconsin-Madison received a grant from the USDA-NIFA Alfalfa and Forages Research Program to investigate the effects of wheel traffic on alfalfa regrowth, yield, and quality. Another goal of the funded research is to attempt to use commercially available remote sensing techniques to characterize the amount of damage in a production system due to traffic at harvest and model that effect in terms of yield loss and quality variation in the harvested crop. The first field season for this study was completed in 2019. Three blocks of plots were established at Arlington Agricultural Research Station in Wisconsin. These blocks contained different tillage treatments including: 1. Fall and spring tillage prior to seeding, 2. Spring tillage only prior to seeding, and 3. No-till seeding. Another block was identified that was previously established alfalfa in its second year of production. Within each of these blocks, seven different treatments were applied and replicated three times (Table 1). These treatments were designed to simulate both silage and hay harvest systems. Compaction was applied with a 17,400pound swather at the times described in Table 1. Harvest on these plots was completed on a typical 30-day production harvest schedule with the first harvest of the newly seeded alfalfa being 60 days after seeding. A walk-behind, flail-type plot harvester was used, and the compaction applied by this machine and the operator was considered negligible. A total of four harvests were completed on the established alfalfa plots and three harvests were completed on the newly seeded plots. Four random samples from each harvested plot were collected for moisture content determination and forage quality measurement.

Soil to air evaluation While the compaction treatments and yield measurements are the focus of

this article, other data were collected that will provide insight into the effect of wheel traffic on the plants and the soil. Cone penetrometer measurements were collected pre- and post-harvest within each plot. Five readings were taken randomly within the plots in an effort to understand the magnitude of

Figure 1. Normalized difference vegetative index image of newly seeded alfalfa compaction plots collected immediately prior to first harvest (60 days post-seeding). Red values in the image indicate lower vegetative index values while green indicate higher values.

Figure 2. Normalized difference vegetative index image of newly seeded alfalfa compaction plots collected 10 days after fourth harvest in September 2019. Red values in the image indicate lower vegetative index values while green indicate higher values.

compaction caused by the treatments. Remote sensing measurements of the plots were also gathered pre- and post-harvest (Figure 1 and 2 respectively). This effort will provide vegetative index values for the plants and will be used in an on-farm study to assess machinery movement in the field and how regrowth is affected due to that movement. While this data is still being analyzed,

some differences between the early and late images are apparent. Uniformity within the plots in Figure 1 is much higher than that shown by Figure 2. Alleyways are also easily visible between the three rows of plots in Figure 2. Table 2 shows the compiled yield differences that resulted from compaction treatments during the 2019 growing season across all four harvests. These values are expressed at the moisture content of the alfalfa at harvest and have not been corrected to dry matter content. The statistical differences (letter groupings, alpha = 0.05) expressed here agree with what the research team expected to see.

Yield differences found Higher amounts of traffic on alfalfa does reduce yield at the following harvest. Timing of the application of compaction also played a role. For Treatment 6, plots were compacted at harvest and then again 48 hours after harvest (two applications) and 72 hours after harvest (two applications), for a total of five passes. Applying wheel traffic after more regrowth has occurred does cause additional yield reduction compared to applied compaction immediately at harvest. Data collected during the 2019 growing season, including penetrometer measurements, remote sensing data, and forage quality data are currently being analyzed. We expect to quantify the effect of wheel traffic on alfalfa regrowth and forage quality in order to foster ideas on how to reduce wheel traffic and/or ground pressure applied during harvest. Minimizing this impact will help optimize yield and quality in our alfalfa production systems. • BRIAN LUCK The author is an extension agricultural engineer and assistant professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Table 1. Machinery traffic treatments applied to alfalfa plots in 2019 to assess the effect on yield and quality parameters Treatment

Name

Description

1

Single pass silage

One application of compaction immediately after harvest covering the entire plot.

2

Three pass silage

Three applications of compaction. One immediately after harvest, one 24 hours after harvest and one 26 hours after harvest. Full plot application.

3

4

5

Five pass silage

Simulated silage

Three pass hay

6

Five pass hay

7

Zero compaction (control)

Table 2. Yield results from alfalfa compaction treatments during the 2019 growing season

Put down the bale and no one gets hurt.the Put down

Five applications of compaction. One immediately after harvest, two passes 24 hours after harvest, and two passes 26 hours after harvest. Full plot application.

Treatment

1. Single pass silage

CONTACT US FOR OUR

Mea n y i e l d Standard error (ton/ac) (ton/ac)

50

6.5ab

2. Three pass silage

5.8

4. Simulated silage

5. Three pass hay

Three applications of compaction. One immediately after harvest, one 48 hours after harvest and one 72 hours after harvest. Full plot application.

bale and no one gets hurt.

5.8b

0.24 6.4 Celebration US FOR OUR ab

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b Specials! 0.23 5.8 TH

6. Five pass hay 7. No compaction

Five applications of compaction. One immediately after harvest, two passes 48 hours after harvest, and two passes 72 hours after harvest. Full plot application.

0.23

0.23 YEAR CONTACT

3. Five pass silage

Two wheel tracks applied within the plot. One pass immediately after harvest, one pass 24 hours after harvest, and two passes 26 hours after harvest.

TH0.21

b

5.7b

0.23

7.5a

0.23

YEAR

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*Letters denote statistically significant differences (alpha = 0.05) *Yield differences expressed here are at in-field No machine traffic applied. moisture content at harvest. They have not yet been Our indestructible haying systems are the only ones that corrected to dry mater content.

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Don’t cut it too close by Dan Undersander

T

HE introduction of disc mowers has allowed forages to be cut close to the ground — much closer than sickle bar mowers. Some farmers cut as close to the ground as possible, leaving nothing in the field, in an attempt to maximize yield; however, this approach can have severe consequences to forage stand life and forage quality. With a higher cutting height, more low-quality stem is left in the field, regrowth is hastened, stand health and long-term productivity are preserved, and the risk for forage soil contamination is reduced for many forage species. When determining an optimum cutting height, consider how the plant stores energy for regrowth and also when and where regrowth shoots come from. A plant must store an energy reserve (nonstructural carbohydrates) to produce the regrowth after it has been defoliated (either cut or grazed). Some plants store energy underground, such as in the roots (for example, alfalfa and clovers) or in rhizomes (for example, bermudagrass and some clovers). These plants can be defoliated to near ground level with little effect on regrowth. That’s because new buds will form, and energy is available for the shoots to regrow until they are big enough to photosynthesize their own energy. There is, however, one caution. If the alfalfa harvest is delayed until flowering, such that new shoots have begun to grow, then forage must be cut above the height of the new shoots. The growing point is in the very top of the new shoots; cutting them off will mean that the plant must

start over and produce new shoots for the next harvest. This will delay regrowth and reduce total-season yield.

Cut these high Some species, including timothy, tall fescue, meadow fescue, smooth bromegrass, and birdsfoot trefoil, store energy in the stem bases. These plants must be harvested above the height of the carbohydrate storage area or growth will be reduced. The recommended cutting height for these and other cool-season and range-grass species is 4 inches. Frequent mowing or grazing at a low height will deplete their energy reserves, resulting in shorter stand longevity. Cool-season grasses such as ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass can tolerate lower defoliation. This is why these grasses tend to invade close-clipped or overgrazed areas. Harvesting alfalfa -grass mixtures at 2 inches or less cutting height will cause the grass to die out in a couple years because it cannot compete with the alfalfa when the grass stem regrowth reserves have been removed. Stolons are another energy storage structure of some species. Stolons are above ground horizontal stems that are capable of rooting and sending up new shoots at nodes. Species falling into this category include white clover (both common and ladino), kura clover, birdsfoot trefoil, and bermudagrass. If present, mower cutting height should be above the stolons to leave as much energy as possible for regrowth and spreading to fill in thin spots.

Mike Rankin

EQUIPMENT FOCUS the plants. During the period of internode elongation, cool-season grasses have low carbohydrate reserves and no basal axillary tillers present for regrowth. Basal tillers are not formed until early flowering. Timothy and smooth bromegrass often fail to persist in alfalfa when the spring crop is harvested at or prior to the early flower stage of alfalfa. This occurs because these grasses do not form tillers until flowering and are slow to recover after mowing or grazing. Tall and meadow fescues are not as severely affected, so these are better companion grasses to mix with alfalfa. The following current recommendations regarding cutting height are designed to maximize yield while maintaining high-quality forage, good winter survival, and stand longevity: Alfalfa or clover: The recommended minimum cutting height is 3 inches. Some literature shows a cutting height of 1 inch will not reduce stand longevity, but a potential higher ash content from lower cutting and the lower quality of the stem base must also be considered. Frequent cutting at early to mid-bud will continue to deplete carbohydrate reserves. Therefore, allow one cutting of alfalfa to reach the early bloom stage each year. If cutting below 3 inches with a disc mower, use horizontal rather than angled knives. The latter will cut lodged forage better, but they also pick up more soil when the surface is dry. Birdsfoot trefoil: The recommended cutting height is 3 inches. Research has shown that cutting frequently at a 1-inch height rapidly reduced the stand compared with a 3-inch height during two cutting years. Birdsfoot trefoil must retain some stem and leaves for regrowth since carbohydrates are at a low level during most of the growing season. This is probably because carbohydrates are being used in the continuous production of new top growth. Cool-season grasses: The recommended cutting height for cool-season DAN UNDERSANDER The author is a forage professor emeritus with the University of Wisconsin.

There’s more to consider A second factor to keep in mind is when and where regrowth shoots are formed on

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grasses is 4 inches. Many cool-season grasses store carbohydrates in the lower 2 to 3 inches of the stem. In addition to removing carbohydrate reserves, a low-cutting height also removes more photosynthetic leaf area. If cut below 3 to 4 inches, especially on a consistent basis, regrowth is impaired. Frequent cutting of cool-season grasses at a low height depletes energy reserves, shortens stand life, and favors weed encroachment. Range grasses, sorghum, and sudangrass: The recommended cutting height of bluestem or switchgrass is 6 inches. These grasses also store energy in stem bases. Cutting closer will not give much more hay value because few leaves remain on the stubble. Leaving nodes on the stubble stems will provide sites for axillary tiller formation. These tillers contribute leaf area and energy for fast regrowth. Mixed alfalfa (or clover) and grass stands: Manage mixed stands for the predominant species. Determine

if you have a grass stand with some alfalfa (or clover) or an alfalfa stand with some grass. Cut at 2 to 3 inches if more alfalfa is desired and at 4 inches to keep more grass in a mixed stand. Bermudagrass: This warm-season grass can be cut as low as the mower and terrain will allow; close clipping will not harm stands. The key to harvesting bermudagrass is to harvest at four- to

five-week intervals, which represents the best compromise between forage yield and quality. This harvesting interval produces hay that has a high proportion of leaves to stems and is easy to cure. Bottom line: Cutting forage stands lower may give more dry matter yield on an individual cutting, but it will result in less yield for the season or life of the stand. •

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January 2020 | hayandforage.com | 27

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FEED ANALYSIS

by John Goeser

Unexpected

BRIGHT SPOTS

T

HE 2019 growing and harvest season experience for many farmers was like entering a boxing ring, with one (or two) hands tied behind your back. From a swamp-like spring planting season to a drawn out and frigid harvest, last year was tough on growers. In recent articles, we’ve discussed lessons learned after gaining experience with alternative forages and managing that which we can control. Through the challenging year and with the harvest season now behind us, there appears to be several less recognized or unanticipated bright spots in many silos across the U.S. When the growing environment changes substantially, a genotype by environment interaction (GxE) becomes evident. The resulting phenotypic outcome (yield and quality) can be either positive or negative. Plant breeders and agronomists study this effect so as to place the genetics in the best possible environmental conditions to succeed. For example, some hybrid lines are far more drought tolerant than others and perform much better than average under water deficit conditions. With dairy and feedlot feeding studies, we often overlook GxE interactions. Researchers plant the treatment varieties or hybrids without replication (for example, a hybrid planted in just one field compared against a hybrid planted in an adjacent field) and then research the quality impact on performance in replicated animal experiments. Keep this in mind when interpreting results for new genetics, as the animal performance outcome may be very different under dissimilar growing conditions due to the GxE impact.

This GxE interaction can be better addressed by animal nutrition researchers in the future; however, farmers have long recognized the impact that growing season has upon quality. Some crops feed better in certain years than others. As our Rock River Laboratory’s 2019 forage database begins to take shape, it appears that this year seems to be trending toward a positive GxE interaction for many corn silages. However, antinutritional factors such as higher ash content in hay and haylage, mold, wild yeast, bacteria, and mycotoxin loads are also at play, which may detract from the enhanced nutritional quality.

First, the bad news Prior to discussing the potential bright spots, recognize that the 2019 hay and haylage crops appear to have taken a hit in quality. Midwestern and Eastern haylage crude protein values trended markedly lower in 2019 relative to the prior two growing seasons (see Figure 1). A less recognized factor with many 2019 haylage crops is an elevated ash content. The western U.S. typically experiences greater ash content in forage crops, however, there appears to be convergence for the Midwest and western U.S. in 2019 (see Figure 2). The higher ash content is likely coming from rain splashing soil up onto plants, flooding in some areas, and the need for more raking, tedding, or merging to wilt the laying crop to an appropriate moisture concentration. This will detract from feed energy values but also contribute toward feed hygienic issues such as mold, yeast, or bacteria growth potential. Check your hay or haylage

ash levels and discuss potential ramifications with your nutritionist.

More digestible starch This story takes a positive turn and highlights the unexpected bright spots with 2019 by reviewing corn silage quality trends. During grain maturation, the plant aims to protect starch in an insoluble protein matrix, which lessens bacterial access, lowering rumen and total tract digestion potential. In 2019, corn silage crude protein values for the eastern half of the U.S. were substantially down (data not shown). This trend appears to be related to a bump in starch digestibility (see Figure 3). The trend will better play out over time; however, corn silage rumen starch digestibility may be up 5 units or more, equating to more energy per pound of silage. The energy boost per pound of silage isn’t limited to improved grain and starch potential. The stressful growing conditions likely limited lignification and fiber strength within corn plants. Total tract neutral detergent fiber digestibility (TTNDFD, percent of fiber) model results for corn silage samples showcases a substantial improvement for Midwestern and Eastern silage crop samples in 2019 (see Figure 4). The TTNDFD model incorporates a measure of both lignified fiber (undigestible NDF at 240 hours; uNDF240) and fiber digestion rate. One or both of these may have been impacted by the growing season. The average TTNDFD impact appears to be on the order of 2 to 4 percentage units, enough for a pound or two of milk production potential per cow. While 2019 was a forgettable growing season for many, there appears to be a few hidden bright spots in the resulting forage. Your yields may not have been ideal; however, consult with your nutritionist on the fiber and starch digestion potential of your corn silage. There may be considerably more energy and milk per ton in this season’s forage for your herd. • JOHN GOESER The author is the director of nutrition research and innovation with Rock River Lab Inc., and adjunct assistant professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dairy Science Department.

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Figure 3: Corn silage digestible starch timeline

Figure 1: Haylage crude protein content timeline

100

20

Percent

Percent

25

15

90 80 70

10 2018-01

2018-07

2019-01

60

2019-07

Region

US East

US Midwest

18

55

15

50

12 9 6

2018-07

2019-01

2019-07

US East

US Midwest

US West

Figure 4: Corn silage TTNDFD timeline

Percent

Percent

Region

US West

Figure 2: Haylage ash content timeline

2018-01

Date

Date

45 40 35

2018-01

2018-07

2019-01

2019-07

30

2018-01

2018-07

Date Region

US East

US Midwest

2019-01

2019-07

Date US West

Region

US East

US Midwest

US West

January 2020 | hayandforage.com | 29


DAIRY FEEDBUNK

by Cody McCary and Luiz Ferraretto

Mike Rankin

Whole-plant sorghum provides a drought-tolerant alternative to corn if it is processed correctly.

Re-evaluating berry processing score VAILABILITY of high-quality forages to dairy cattle is essential to maintaining rumen health and animal production. Although corn silage is the predominant forage used to feed dairy cows in the United States, sorghum has become an important silage crop for dairy farmers. This is primarily related to water availability being a limiting factor to forage production in many regions. Sorghum is more water efficient, drought tolerant, and has reduced production costs when compared to corn. Therefore, whole-plant sorghum silage has been discussed as a potential replacement for whole-plant corn silage. Previously, we discussed the drawbacks of sorghum silage, which include higher concentrations of lignin, acid detergent fiber (ADF), and neutral detergent fiber (NDF), and lower NDF digestibility and starch concentration. Issues associated with NDF digestibility could be mitigated by using more digestible, brown midrib hybrids. However, the careful replacement of corn silage with sorghum silage is still recommended due to the reduced starch concentrations and digestibility of sorghum plants. Similar to the corn kernel, pericarp and a starch-protein matrix act as barriers to starch digestion in sorghum

berries. Although aggressive mechanical processing is well-established as an important tool in mitigating these barriers to digestion and enhancing starch digestibility of corn silage, research is still warranted for sorghum silage.

Evaluation needed Knowing how to evaluate if processing was effective is crucial to assess machine function. For example, the corn silage processing score method, which uses a 4.75 millimeter (mm) sieve to quantify the adequacy of kernel processing in corn silage (percent of total starch passing through a 4.75 mm sieve), has been widely adopted and successfully led the dairy industry to improve the degree of kernel breakage in corn silage. More aggressive kernel processing improves total tract starch digestibility and lactation performance when compared to less aggressive processing in corn silage. Until recently, a standardized measurement to determine adequacy of berry processing in sorghum silage had not been established. In 2017, researchers from Kansas State University proposed using a 1.70 mm sieve as the critical sieve to produce a berry processing score (percent of total starch passing through a 1.70 mm sieve). Samples

with at least 50 percent of total starch passing through a 1.70 mm sieve would be scored as “adequate.” Conversely, samples with less than 50 percent of total starch below the 1.70 mm sieve would receive an “inadequate” berry processing score (BPS). Implementation of a standardized BPS could allow for the quantification of the adequacy of processing and maximization of starch utilization in sorghum silage. Thus, this attempt by these researchers to create a BPS will certainly bring great benefits to the silage industry.

BPS evaluated We conducted two experiments to learn more about BPS in sorghum silage. For the first experiment, berries from 25 hybrids were collected at various silage maturities and combined into three equal composites. Berries from one composite were kept intact, whereas the other two composites were manually cut into two or four pieces. Particle size distribution and starch digestibility are in Table 1. As designed, our results indicated that manual cutting of berries reduced particle size, expanded the surface area for digestion, and consequently improved starch digestibility. However, it was intriguing to learn about the inability of many berries to pass through the 1.70 mm sieve even when manually cut in two or four pieces. Only 3 and 26 percent of two and four pieces, respectively, passed through the 1.70 mm sieve. In contrast, 51 and 86 percent of berries cut at two and four pieces, respectively, passed through the 2.36 mm sieve. Based on our individual

LUIZ FERRARETTO McCary is a graduate research assistant and Ferraretto (pictured) is an assistant professor of livestock nutrition in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Florida.

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New sieve size proposed Berry processing score was quantified using the percentage of total starch passing through a 1.70 or 2.36 mm sieve in two separate analyses. Results are presented in Figure 1. Although processing silage more aggressively improved berry breakage, all four treatments were considered “inadequate” as values ranged from 19.7 to 25.6 percent of starch passing through the 1.70 mm sieve. Further reductions of roll gap in a forage harvester would slow harvest,

Table 1. Particle size distribution, geometric mean particle size, surface area, and starch digestibility of unfermented sorghum berries after manual cutting1,2 Item

WH

2P

4P

6.70

0

0

0

4.75

0

0

0

Figure 1: Effect of theoretical lenth of cut and roll gap setting on berry processing score Berry processing score (% of starch passing though a 1.70 mm sieve)

reduce throughput, and boost fuel cost and wear on grain processing rollers. Our results from the first study indicate that modern forage harvesting equipment may need to process sorghum berries to greater than four pieces to allow at least 50 percent of total starch to pass through the 1.70 mm sieve. Therefore, changing the critical sieve size from 1.70 to 2.36 mm is likely warranted. When berry processing score was estimated using the 2.36 mm sieve, a wider range of scores were observed (Figure 1). In addition, the most aggressive treatment was considered adequate. Upon visual inspection (Figure 2), berries retained below the 2.36 mm sieve were processed in at least two pieces such as observed in the particle distribution of our first study. Our study underscored the difficulty of processing sorghum silage, indicated by “inadequate” berry processing scores even when aggressive processing was applied. In addition, the 2.36 mm sieve may be the correct critical sieve to produce berry processing scores. The ability to accurately measure berry processing scores may improve nutritive value by increasing berry breakage and starch digestibility of sorghum silage. •

30 25

0.59 inches

a

0.86 inches

ab

bc

c

20 15 10 5 0

1 mm

3 mm

Roll gap settings Berry processing score (% of starch passing though a 2.36 mm sieve)

dataset, the use of the 2.36 mm sieve could represent a better indication of broken berries. We designed our second study to evaluate the berry processing score with whole-plant sorghum silage. Briefly, we collected sorghum plants from four plots and processed them with a forage harvester to achieve combinations of two roll gap (1 or 3 mm [0.04 or 0.12 inches]) and two theoretical lengths of cut (15 or 22 mm [0.59 or 0.86 inches]) settings. Processing settings used in our study are representative of industry standards in the production of corn silage. It is reasonable to assume that similar processing settings would be used during the harvest of sorghum silage.

60 50 40 30

a b

b c

20 10 0

1 mm 3 mm Roll gap settings

Figure 2: Visual observation of particles retained above the 1.70 mm sieve and below the 2.36 mm sieve

Berries retained on each sieve, % as fed

3.35

19.64

3.52

0

2.36

77.81

45.06

14.11

1.70

2.54

48.39

59.77

1.18

0

2.89

23.79

0.59

0

0.13

1.45

0.30

0

0

0.56

0

0

0.32

Pan

2,152

1,695

1,277

Surface area, cm2/g

19

22

27

Effective ruminal starch disappearance, % of starch

15.2

22.6

39.7

Geometric mean particle size, um

2

Adapted from McCary et al., (2019). WH = whole sorghum berries, 2P = sorghum berries manually cut in two pieces, and 4P = sorghum berries manually cut in four pieces.

1 2

January 2020 | hayandforage.com | 31

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PASTURE PONDERINGS

A PATHWAY TO RANCH

I

N THE past, agriculture was a vocation learned mainly through family ties. However, little headway has been made to create practical, hands-on learning opportunities for individuals from non-ag backgrounds to enter careers in farming or ranching. New Mexico-based Quivira Coalition seeks to remedy this fact for farm and ranch newcomers with their New Agrarian Program (NAP). NAP provides participants with the chance for hands-on education and mentorship through structured eight-month long apprenticeships with partnering mentor farms and ranches across states such as New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, and California. Founded in 2008, approximately 44 apprentices have gone through the NAP ranks to date. “The program is unique in that we focus our efforts on providing opportunities for people who are interested in learning how to ranch on large-scale, regenerative ranches in the interior West,” said Alexis Bonogofsky, northern coordinator for the NAP. “Our positions are paid, housing is provided, and some board along with perks through Quivira.” During their time in the program, apprentices receive around 400 to 600 direct contact hours with their mentor and 1,200 to 1,600 training hours over an eight-month period of six-day workweeks. Most apprentices begin their tenure in the spring (April) and stay on through fall. Bonogofsky conducts site visits before and during the apprenticeship, as well as monthly check-ins with both mentors and apprentices. “We want the apprentices and mentors to have a quality experience so we spend a significant amount of time with them,” said Bonogofsky. “We also provide supplemental education and training to ranchers and farmers on how to be a good mentor.” Along with ample chances for hands-on

learning and guidance from skilled mentors, Quivira’s NAP stands out with its broad curriculum. Unlike many other on-farm apprenticeship or internship programs, it covers not only production-focused topics, but also financial and business planning, at-scale land stewardship, animal husbandry, equipment operation, and leadership. This additional content is handled through both online courses and in-person learning. Apprentices also have the chance to visit other operations to gain exposure to different perspectives and practices. The program culminates with a trip to Quivira’s annual conference where apprentice graduation takes place.

No experience needed Apprentice Kate Clyatt is a recent participant in the New Agrarian Program. Before NAP, she had attended college for natural resource degrees and worked for a brief time as a ranch forestry consultant. These experiences reignited her interest in ranching and led her to find Quivira’s program. “I didn’t have any direct connections to ranches I could work at, so like every good millennial, I turned to Google,” said Clyatt. “I eventually found a posting for an apprenticeship in New Mexico through ranchworldads.com. Turns out, it was with one of the ranches participating in the New Agrarian Program. NAP appealed to me because it was geared toward people with little or no agricultural background. I was looking for a place where I could learn and would feel comfortable in my inexperience.” After finishing her New Mexico stint in 2018, Clyatt continued her learning journey by applying to NAP for a second year, this time around with the Mannix Ranch in Helmville, Mont. Looking back on her overall experience in the program, Clyatt said, “The last two years have been nothing but learning.

Mike Rankin

by Jesse Bussard Many of these lessons have been tangible (for example, horsemanship, low-stress livestock handling, and equipment operation). Constantly being faced with new skill sets has been incredibly rewarding, and I’ve come to love the process.” However, Clyatt points out that most of the things she learned, like communication, humility, and open-mindedness, have been less tangible. “While those things are harder to pinpoint, they make life a lot easier and have provided a lot of value to my life, let alone any future endeavors,” Clyatt said. She pointed out that being an apprentice doesn’t come without some challenges, many of which are reflective of those that come with a life in ranching. “There are never enough hours in the day or dollars in the bank, and never an end to work,” said Clyatt. “Ranches can be isolating but also incredibly fulfilling. Relationships are close, and that brings out the best and worst in everyone. What I’ve appreciated most about the ranching life is the rawness of it all. It’s a vividly authentic experience, with all of the ups and downs. In my experience, there have been far more ups than downs.” Quivira accepts new applications to the New Agrarian Program annually starting in mid-October. In addition, the organization offers informational call sessions and introductory field days throughout the year at mentor ranches to give potential apprentices the occasion to see if the program might be right for them. To those considering the NAP, Clyatt said, “I think it’s a great way to test out the waters. Eight months may seem like a long time to dip a toe, but it’s the best way to understand the whole annual cycle of a farm or ranch. Plus, you can take advantage of conferences and land workshops, as well as the entire network of farmers and ranchers across the West for employment opportunities after the end of the apprenticeship.” • Learn more about the Quivira’s New Agrarian Program at quiviracoalition.org/ newagrarian/. JESSE BUSSARD The author is a freelance writer from Bozeman, Mont., and has her own communications business, Cowpunch Creative.

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by Mike Rankin S THE growing season comes to an end, the hay buying and selling season begins. It’s still amazing how many round bales get sold on a per bale/roll basis rather than by weight. It’s a practice that almost always ends up with someone getting the short end of the stick. I recall a Wisconsin project from a few years ago that involved a couple of extension agents going farm to farm weighing large round bales with portable pad scales. Prior to obtaining the actual bale weights, the agents and the bale owner estimated the average bale weight of the three bales that were weighed at each farm. Overall, both the agents and farmers missed the actual average bale weight by 100 pounds, sometimes being over and other times being under the actual weight. The extension agents noted that there was not only large farm-to-farm variability but also extreme differences within bales of the same size located on the different farms. In my own extension agent days, I used to help coordinate a quality-tested hay auction once per month. I would summarize the auction results and then post them on the internet. Some sellers preferred to sell their hay by the bale instead of by the ton. This always meant that I’d have to estimate bale weight and convert to a price per ton because that is how the results

Mike Rankin

We’ve got a (bale) weight problem

were reported. Initially, I dreaded doing this because I didn’t always trust the accuracy of my own guess, so I would always ask a few farmers what they thought. As you might expect, there were often wide ranges among those people who I would ask, leaving me to guess which estimate was the closest. Sellers would sometimes tell me that most people underestimate bale weight, and that’s why they like to sell by the bale if they can.

Multiple factors at play There are a number of factors that can influence bale weight. They include: bale size and shape, density, moisture, time of sale, forage species and maturity, and the model and age of the baler. It’s fairly intuitive that size of the bale will impact bale weight, but what may be overlooked is the degree of change that occurs when a bale is only 1 foot wider or 1 foot more in diameter. The latter accounts for the largest change. A bale that is 4 feet wide by 5 feet in diameter (4x5) has 80 percent of the volume of a 5x5 bale. However, a 5x4 bale has only 64 percent of the volume of a 5x5 bale. Those percentages also translate to differences in weight if all other factors are equal. Bale density also plays a rather large role in final bale weight. It often ranges from 9 to 12 pounds per cubic foot. In a 5x5 bale, the difference between 10 and 11 pounds of dry matter per square foot amounts to over 100 pounds per bale at both the 10 and 15 percent moisture

levels. Missing the weight of a bale by 10 percent amounts to some pretty significant dollars when multiple tons are being purchased. Forage moisture also plays a role in bale weight but to a lesser degree than bale density, unless bales are extremely dry or wet. Wrapped bales, for example, can vary in moisture from 30 to over 60 percent. When purchasing baleage, it is always recommended to either weigh the bales or have a rock-solid moisture test. Time of purchase impacts bale weight in two ways. First, if you’re purchasing bales out of field, they are likely going to be at a higher moisture level and weight than they will be after being cured in storage. There is also a natural tendency for dry matter loss during storage that the buyer will incur if bales are purchased immediately after baling. As has been well documented by research, storage losses can range from below 5 percent to over 50 percent, depending on storage method. Forage species also affects bale weight. Grass bales generally will weigh less than legume-based bales of similar size. This is because legumes such as alfalfa will make a denser bale than a grass species. In the previously mentioned Wisconsin study, the average weight of a 4x5 legume bale was 986 pounds. This compared to 846 pounds for grass bales of the same size. Plant maturity is another factor that impacts bale density and ultimately bale weight. Leaves generally pack better than stems, so as plants mature and develop a higher percentage of stems to leaves, bales generally become less dense and weigh less. Finally, there are many models of balers of differing ages. This variation, coupled with operator experience, lends further variability into the bale density and weight discussion. Newer machines are able to make a much denser bale than most older ones. Given the number of variables that determine the actual bale weight, buying and selling large round bales based on a weight guess is likely going to result in a transaction that is either above or below market value. This can be extremely expensive for the buyer or seller, especially when a large number of tons are purchased over a period of time. • January 2020 | hayandforage.com | 33

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MACHINE SHED

Front-mount mowers from Pöttinger

Vermeer offers new three-point disc mowers Vermeer recently introduced a new series of three-point disc mowers with an improved hookup mechanism. The new Vermeer M5050, M6050, M7050, and M8050 three-point disc mowers feature a Quick Hitch hookup that minimizes the hassles associated with hooking up and unhooking the implements. It’s now a one-person job. The new 50-series three-point disc mowers also feature the Vermeer Quick Clip blade retention system. The net effect of these features on the 50-series threepoint disc mowers is more efficient use of time behind the wheel when mowing hay. Beyond the improved convenience of the new mowers, they offer another major benefit for those accustomed to the previous drawbacks of three-point systems. While some operators would previously dedicate specific tractors to their mowers, the ease of hooking up and unhooking Vermeer 50-series three-point disc mowers can now free up those tractors for other tasks during the growing season, magnifying the efficiency gains of the new mowers. For more information, visit Vermeer.com.

A new line of Pottinger’s front-mounted mowers consists of the Novacat 261, 301, and 351 Alpha Motion Pro disc mowers as well as the Eurocat 311 Alpha Motion Pro and Alpha Motion Plus Pro drum-type mowers. The disc mowers can be used without a conditioner and with swath doors or in combination with an ED tine conditioner or RCB roller conditioner. The Plus versions of the drum mowers are available with ED tine conditioners. Like the Master models, the new Pro models are attached to the tractor using a three-point mounting system. This makes them easy to attach to any tractor, regardless of size. The cutterbar is easily accessible thanks to the folding front guard. This makes it easier to clean and change the blades. The cover can be easily removed to provide convenient access for adjusting the suspension springs. The central greasing points on the headstock represent an additional simplification in terms of servicing. The optimized drive train does not require a safety chain for the PTO shafts. On the Alpha Motion headstock, the entire carrier frame adapts to the ground contours. Each movement controls the carrier frame to ensure a “floating cut.” The engineers at Pöttinger have also come up with a very sleek, modern design. Pöttinger mowers offer maximum convenience with exceptional ground tracking and cutting quality, low forage losses, and precision work without time-consuming adjustments. For more information, visit www.poettinger.at/en_us.

New rotary header from Hesston by Massey Ferguson The Hesston by Massey Ferguson 9300 Series RazorBar rotary disc headers for WR9900 self-propelled windrowers are built to optimize crop throughput and quality, helping operators cut and condition more acres in a day. New, easy-to-service belt-drive augers at the ends of the 16-foot headers move the crop quickly to the conditioners, minimizing the chance of double cuts, crop wrapping, and buildup. The result is uniform windrows that dry faster and more evenly, enhancing the operator’s ability to form a dense, evenly shaped bale that preserves the quality of hay and forage. The MF9300 Series replaces the MF9200 Series and includes the 16-foot MF9316S (single conditioner) and MF9316D (double conditioner) models as well as the 13-foot MF9313S and MF9313D. All feature the durable, low-profile RazorBar rotary disc cutterbars for a close and clean cut. For more information, visit masseyferguson.us. The Machine Shed column will provide an opportunity to share information with readers on new equipment to enhance hay and forage production. Contact Managing Editor Mike Rankin at mrankin@hayandforage.com.

34 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2020

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Claas debuts new Axion Series tractors

New size class for ASV Posi-Track loader ASV Holdings Inc. recently introduced the new compact RT-50 Posi-Track loader. The RT-50 positions itself between the RT-40 and RT-65. The track loader includes exceptional ground pressure, ground clearance, serviceability, and performance. The RT-50 features a greater performance-to-weight ratio, giving operators more options for working in tight areas. The track loader boasts a 1,400-pound rated operating capacity. The lightweight unit’s low trailer weight makes it easily towable by a 1/2-ton pickup truck or SUV. Its narrow width allows it to fit onto small trailers. The hydraulic system features direct-drive pumps, large line sizes, and hydraulic coolers, transferring more flow and pressure directly to the attachment with maximum efficiency. Drive motors transfer the machine’s torque to ASV’s patented internal-drive sprockets. The internal rollers reduce friction loss in the undercarriage, transferring maximum power to the track regardless of drive speed. The RT-50’s undercarriage allows customers to use the machine as an all-terrain, all-season piece of equipment with maximum control, flotation, traction, and pushing power in steep, wet, muddy, and slippery conditions. Numerous contact points and guide lugs also virtually eliminate the risk of track derailment. A flexible rubber track with internal positive drive sprockets provides superior traction and track life. The RT-50 features a torsion axle suspension system that allows for a smoother ride over rough terrain. Standard joystick controls make operation easy and intuitive. The RT-50 will be available for purchase in spring 2020. For more information on the RT-50, visit www.asvi.com.

Kuhn unveils GMD 355 disc mower The GMD 355 disc mower provides operators with increased durability, enhanced features, and a cleaner look for years of low maintenance hay production. This disc mower is equipped

Claas of America recently launched the Axion 900 and 800 series high-efficiency tractors into the United States and Canadian markets. The new tractor lines provide a range of power options — from 200 to 440 horsepower — and other available technology options to match a wide range of applications. The Axion series provides comfort and flexibility, high fuel-efficiency for its PTO horsepower class, and superior cab visibility. The tractor fits well for the livestock and livestock input producer. The Axion 800 series was commercially launched after months of testing on real farms across the United States and Canada. Claas partnered with a select group of dealers in diverse areas to ensure all parts, service, and training support mechanisms were in place to facilitate users. The Axion 900 and 800 series tractors tout exceptional fuel efficiency per PTO horsepower. With a standard four-point suspended cab, PROACTIV front axle, shock-absorbing front and rear three-point hitches, a semi-active seat, and a list of other cab conveniences, the Axion delivers premium comfort and has superior visibility, which is enhanced by rear curved glass and forward B-pillar posts. The Axion 800 series features a powerful 6.7L Tier 4F engine. Horsepower ranges from 200 to 280. The Axion 900 features an 8.7L Tier 4F engine with horsepower ratings of 320 to 440, depending on the model. The 800 series is offered in a HEXASHIFT or CMATIC (CVT) transmission to fit the specific needs of the operator. The 900 series is available exclusively with the CMATIC transmission. For more information, visit www.Claas.com.   .

with Kuhn’s 100 Series cutterbar providing proven reliability. The GMD 355 has a direct drive through the first disc into the 100 Series cutterbar, providing more clearance to not catch crop on the cutterbar. The cutterbar has also been reinforced with heavy-duty outer bearing stations to support both ends of the cutterbar. These supports improve the durability of the cutterbar, especially when it is used in difficult conditions. The swath wheel improves crop flow and a defined edge for the next pass. The Constant Float suspension on the mower creates a dynamic suspension system where the cutterbar maintains even ground pressure across the entire working width. The mechanical breakaway protects the mower along fence lines and field edges in case an obstacle is struck. For more information, visit www.KuhnNorthAmerica.com. January 2020 | hayandforage.com | 35

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Identifying novel microbial strains through leading scientific methods to develop the next generation of agricultural solutions. Silage Inoculant: High end soluble protein for dry corn silage High-Moisture Corn Inoculant: Reduces pH and supports starch digestiility in high-moisture corn Dry Hay Inoculant: Improves hay palatability, consumption, color over acid Forage Inoculant: Forage inoculants for efficient, preserved silage fementation

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Over the past two decades, Persist orchardgrass has set the standard for high yielding, long-lasting forage. Persist has fed more cattle, packed more hay barns, and made more meat and milk. Per Persist has withstood severe droughts, survived frigid ice storms and outlasted intensive grazing.

few inches like the traditional rolls do, The Crusher, 'crushes' the entire plant . The stem of the plant will be cracked the entire length on both sides.  The entire plant will be conditioned, allowing it to dry faster. Maximum leaf retention. High relative feed value (RFV).

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FORAGE IQ Maryland-Delaware Hay and Pasture Conferences January 14 to 17 (4 locations) Details: foragecouncil.com/event

Northwest Hay Expo January 15 and 16, Kennewick, Wash. Details: www.wa-hay.org

Vermont Grazing & Livestock Conference January 17 and 18, Fairlee, Vt. Details: vtgrassfarmers.org/conference

Virginia Winter Forage Conferences January 21 to 24 (4 locations) Details: https://vaforages.org/events

Grassworks Grazing Conference January 23 to 25, Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Details: grassworks.org

Western Alfalfa Seed Growers Assn. Winter Seed Conference January 26 to 28, Las Vegas, Nev. Details: wasga.org

Southwest Hay & Forage Conference January 29 to 31, Ruidoso, N.M. Details: www.nmhay.com

Driftless Region Beef Conference January 30 and 31, Dubuque, Iowa Details: www.aep.iastate.edu/beef

U.S. Custom Harvesters Convention January 30 to February 1, Hot Springs, Ark. Details: uschi.com

Cattle Industry Convention NCBA Trade Show February 5 to 7, San Antonio, Texas Details: beefusa.org

World Ag Expo February 11 to 13, Tulare, Calif. Details: worldagexpo.com

Midwest Forage Symposium February 18 and 19, Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Details: midwestforage.org

Pennsylvania Forage Conference February 19, Dauphin, Pa. Details: bit.ly/HFG-PA2020

HAY MARKET UPDATE

Steady as she goes Hay prices continue to run mostly sideways in many regions, although some Midwest states hit by an overabundance of growing-season rain events are seeing higher prices than one year ago. In the West, export totals have really started to strengthen due largely to

tariff relief from China. This should help bolster prices as we move through winter. A more positive short-term dairy outlook is also a positive sign. The prices below are primarily from USDA hay market reports as of the beginning of mid-December. Prices are FOB barn/stack unless otherwise noted.•

For weekly updated hay prices, go to “USDA Hay Prices” at hayandforage.com Supreme-quality alfalfa California (northern SJV) California (southern) Colorado (northeast) Colorado (San Luis Valley) Idaho Iowa Iowa (Rock Valley) Kansas (all regions) Missouri Minnesota (Pipestone)-ssb Montana Nebraska (western) Oklahoma (central) Oklahoma (eastern)-lrb Oregon (Lake County) South Dakota Texas (Panhandle) Washington (Columbia Basin) Wyoming (western)

Price $/ton 265 250 220-225 300 150 250-300 260 185-226 180-200 185-195 175-190 200-215 225 220-275 210 300 275-300 225 205

Premium-quality alfalfa California (intermountain) California (northern SJV) California (southern) California (southeast) Colorado (northeast)-ssb Colorado (southeast) Idaho-ssb Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (all regions) Missouri Montana Nebraska (Platte Valley)-lrb Nebraska (western) Oklahoma (central) Oregon (Crook-Wasco) Oregon (Klamath Basin) South Dakota Texas (west) Wisconsin (Lancaster) Washington (Columbia Basin) Good-quality alfalfa California (intermountain) California (Sacramento Valley) Idaho Iowa-ssb Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (all regions) Missouri Montana-lrb Nebraska (east/central) Oklahoma (eastern)-lrb Oklahoma (western) Oregon (Lake County)

Price $/ton 220-240 255 270 205-215 265 175-200 210 190 170-200 160-180 150-175 130 180-195 236 180 220 215 250-265 275-300 230 Price $/ton 225 220 145 200 130-160 160-175 120-160 110-120 160 223-250 150 180

Pennsylvania (southeast) (d) South Dakota-lrb South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb (d) Texas (Panhandle) (o) Washington (Columbia Basin) Wisconsin (Lancaster)-lrb Wyoming (western) Fair-quality alfalfa California (intermountain) California (northern SJV) California (southeast) Colorado (northeast) Colorado (southeast) Idaho (d) Kansas (all regions) Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb Missouri (d) Montana Nebraska (western) Oklahoma (central)-lrb Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota-lrb (d) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Washington (Columbia Basin) Bermudagrass hay Alabama-Premium lrb Texas (Panhandle)-Premium Texas (south)-Good/Premium lrb

(d)

(d) (d)

(d)

Bromegrass hay Kansas (southeast)-Good Missouri-Good Orchardgrass hay California (intermountain)-Premium Idaho Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-Premium ssb Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good Timothy hay Montana-Premium ssb Montana-Good-ssb Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good Washington (Columbia Basin)-Premium Washington (Columbia Basin)-Premium ssb Oat hay Kansas (south central)-lrb Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-ssb South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Straw Iowa-ssb Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (north central/east)-lrb Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Nebraska (western) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb

295 150 145-148 175-190 205 125-225 160-165 Price $/ton 160-165 190 155 125-145 150 130 90-130 135 100-125 110-125 130-140 145 195 120 100-108 185 Price $/ton 133 175 120-160

(d) (d)

(d)

(d)

(d)

Price $/ton 120-150 80-120 Price $/ton 300 230 250 260-305 Price $/ton 240-270 160-180 225-270 190 220 Price $/ton 80-85 180 78 Price $/ton 200 95-140 60-70 150-195 80 150-215 75

Abbreviations: d=delivered, lrb=large round bales, ssb=small square bales, o=organic

42 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2020

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WHERE HIGH ENERGY MEETS HIGH YIELD. Standard Pioneer® brand corn silage products are built with both silage and starch yield in mind to handle whatever the growing season brings. Ask your local Pioneer sales representative to learn how farmers are getting consistent performance using our products. Pioneer.com/cornsilage

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— except Roundup (glyphosate), applied at 44 oz per acre to assess potential control of plantain in Roundup Ready alfalfa. Beck thought the glyphosate-treated conventional alfalfa was never going to recover from the injury. But the alfalfa regrouped with growth that spring and, ultimately, still had a comparable yield to that of the untreated control. Yields were similar for Sharpen-treated alfalfa as compared

to other herbicide-treated alfalfa plots and the untreated control. A second year of Alfalfa Checkoff funding allowed Beck to look at potential tank-mix combinations with Sharpen as well as sequential applications. “We wanted to see if making a second application 45 days later would enhance injury to the plantain itself. But we also had to see if that had an effect on the alfalfa yield for that next spring crop.”

“We’re trying to figure out the nuances with our timings with tank mixes in order to make management more impactful. I think farmers could take the information from this initial study and start fine-tuning their weed management practices,” she added. • View Beck’s NAFA report at bit.ly/ HFG-plantain.

Visit us at World Ag Expo! SUPPORT THE ALFALFA CHECKOFF! Buy your seed from these facilitating marketers: Alfalfa Partners Alforex Seeds America’s Alfalfa Channel CROPLAN DEKALB Dyna-Gro Fontanelle Hybrids Forage First FS Brand Alfalfa Gold Country Seed Hubner Seed Jung Seed Genetics Kruger Seeds Latham Hi-Tech Seeds Legacy Seeds Lewis Hybrids NEXGROW Pioneer Prairie Creek Seed Rea Hybrids Simplot Grower Solutions Specialty Stewart Stone Seed W-L Alfalfas

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January 2020 | hayandforage.com | 15

F3 14-15B Jan 2020 Alfalfa Checkoff.indd 2

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Profile for Hay & Forage Grower

Hay & Forage Grower - January 2020  

Hay & Forage Grower magazine provides the newest production and marketing information in print, online ,and in person for large-acreage fora...

Hay & Forage Grower - January 2020  

Hay & Forage Grower magazine provides the newest production and marketing information in print, online ,and in person for large-acreage fora...

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