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Common Grazing Management Mistakes

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   March 23, 2012 10:35


Nadia Mori, MSc, PAg, Regional Forage Specialist
Watrous Regional Services Office
Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture


Managing pastures for maximum productivity sounds easy in theory but once weather fluctuations, insect or wildlife damage, and other unforeseen circumstances enter the equation, pasture management quickly turns into a complex balancing act. Grazing management mistakes are bound to happen when dealing with the complexity of a pasture ecosystem. Learning from these mistakes is a good preparation for future unforeseen circumstances and better risk management in your grazing system.

1.    Looking only to the past to determine stocking rates.
Using the same stocking rates year after year often results in pasture degradation. What may have worked in the past may not be appropriate in the present. Most grazing animals have increased in frame size, thereby increasing forage demand for a single animal. Each year will also present a different moisture situation and therefore different amounts of available forage. Properly balancing your forage supply and animal demand based on weather patterns and herd requirements is recommended.
2.    Thinking that more animals grazed means higher profits.
As stocking rates go above what a pasture can carry sustainably, animal performance and animal health will start to decline. As forage supply becomes inadequate, animals are also more likely to graze harmful and toxic plants. In addition to compromised animal performance, the grazing pressure on your desirable forage plants can lead to reduced pasture health. Long periods of rest may be necessary to restore pasture productivity. Reduced pasture productivity can be costly if additional feed needs to be purchased to meet animal nutritional requirements. All these factors reduce your profit.
3.    Thinking that leaving forage behind is a waste of feed.
Drought is always a matter of when, not if it occurs in Saskatchewan. Keeping stocking rates conservative is the best drought insurance policy. Well rested, vigorous forage plants with a well developed root system will stand a much better chance of survival than an overgrazed, stressed plant with a compromised root system. Forage not used in above-average rainfall years can provide carry-over feed for periods of moisture shortfalls. Left-over forage material also turns into litter which helps protect the soil surface from soil erosion and keeps soils cooler and moister during the heat of the summer.
4.    Following the same pasture rotation year after year.
Grazing during rapid spring growth can be stressful to forage plants. Using the same pasture for spring turnout or during rapid spring growth, is taxing on forage plants. Desired plants are often selectively and repeatedly grazed during this rapid growth stage, which may give weedy or undesirable plants an opportunity to take over. Deferring grazing during critical plant growth periods, using pastures at different seasons of the year, and rotating through pastures in different sequences from year to year will help in maintaining good pasture health.
For more information, please contact:
 Watrous Regional Services Office (306-946-3220);

 Agriculture Knowledge Centre (1-866-457-2377); or
Visit our website at www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca.

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Feed | General | green | horse | nutrition

Radionics Course Offering in Saskatoon

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 28, 2012 10:14


 
This training course will be personally delivered by Ed Kelly, President of KRT and son of founder Pe-ter J. Kelly. Workshop will include a balance of radionic theory, practical application and hands-on activities that will equip participants with the ability to apply radionics to the energetic world that flows through us all.
Ed Kelly is a uniquely qualified instructor, with years of experience building and developing radionic instrumentation, working with senior instructors, and writing about this amazing field, as well as countless hours spent in the company of some of the greatest names in radionics: Dr. T. Galen Hier-onymus, Col. Tom Bearden and many others - not the least of which, his father, Peter J. Kelly.

 
Fundamentals of Radionics-April 10, 11 and 12, 2012
A course designed to meet the needs of brand new beginners and seasoned veterans alike. Participants should bring samples of the water they drink and fur/hair from an animal they own. Topics covered will include:
History of Radionics
Radionic Instruments: Theory of Operation
The Operator and Focused Intent
Safe Use of Radionic Instruments
Capturing Effective Witnesses
Operation of the Kelly Instrument

Each individual and family/friend enrollee will be provided with following materials and information:
Radionics - Book 2: Applied Radionics Two 300 ml Griffin beakers
Set of 10 KRT radionic worksheets One year: Kelly Research Report
Set of 20 test tubes w/ stand Basic Nutrient Reagent Set
Retake includes completion of courses taught by any authorized dealer of KRT instruments

Individual Enrollment $599.00
Family and Friend Enrollment – Bring a buddy and save $100 each! $499.00
Retake* or with Purchase of a New Instrument $299.00
Instrument Rental (Supplies are limited!) $25.00

 
Energetic Analysis and Balancing
Water Analysis Worksheet
Animal Analysis Worksheet
Plant and Soil Analysis Worksheet
Use of Reagents: Physical and Electronic
Basic Rate Scanning/Electronic Dowsing


 
Saskatoon, SK-April 10- 13th, 2012 at the Cosmo Civic Centre

Advanced Topics in Radionics –April 13, 2012
A one-day course designed to explore advanced dimensions of knowledge. Participants must have previ-ously completed a Fundamentals course. 2012 topics to be covered will be:
Advanced Rate Scanning for Accuracy Reagent Selection
Electronic Potentizing and The Replicator Radionic Harmonic Matching
Individual Enrollment $149.00

SEATS ARE LIMITED!
Contact Back to Your Roots Soil Solutions today 306.747.4744
or deb@back-to-your-roots.com to enroll in these course!

Note: The universal concepts of radionics covered in these workshops will equip participants to conduct radionic research in any area desired. However, human health issues cannot be covered at any time. Re-grettably, any questions concerning human health will have to be declined

Analyzer Price List– Please Contact Kelly Research Technology to Order
706-782-2524 or sales@kellyresearchtech.com
The Workstation : Ag Analyzer - 32 Phase Array 40# $4,350.00
The Workstation - 40 Phase Array 40# add $75
The Workstation - 48 Phase Array 40# add $150
The Workstation Pyrex Well Upgrade 40# add $150
Mk II Ag Analyzer: Seporah & BNC Upgrade 32# $650.00
Mk I Ag Analyzer: Seporah & BNC Upgrade 32# $300.00
The Beacon Agricultural Analyzer - 32 Phase Array 32# $3,200.00
The Beacon - 40 Phase Array 32# add $75
The Beacon - 48 Phase Array 32# add $150
The Seeker Agricultural Analyzer - 32 Phase Array 32# $2,500.00
The Seeker - 40 Phase Array 32# add $75
The Seeker - 48 Phase Array 32# add $150
Beacon or Seeker Pyrex Well Upgrade 32# add $75
Kelly Personal Instrument 9# $1,350.00
Kelly Personal Instrument Pyrex Well Upgrade 9# add $50
Personal Analyzer: Seporah & BNC Upgrade 9# $300.00

Welcome to Hop Hill Stable, A New Barn from Old Wood, A Recycling Story

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 19, 2012 10:20

 

WELCOME TO HOP HILL STABLE
A New Barn from Old Wood, a Recycling Story

Written by Nadine Abrams

 

In 2010, we showcased Hop Hill Stable, owned and operated by Michael Jewett and his family, for its unique approach to using recycled materials for the construction of a 20 stall barn, adjoining tack room and riding arena.  Through the use of salvaged materials from building demolitions around the province to the re-use of the original homesteads’ masonry stove, Hop Hill Stable is an excellent example of how a horse facility can use sustainable construction techniques to reduce its environmental ‘hoof’ print.

 

“Having [a] vision first and not arbitrarily collecting junk because it’s cheap” says Jewett, is the first step when wanting to pursue the ‘recycling’ approach.  By having a good plan and a rough design in place prior to sourcing materials, you will save time and money in the long run.

 

For Mr. Jewett, it all started when his son gave him a book on straw bale construction. The booked sparked his interest and he enrolled in a course to learn more about this sustainable construction technique.  At the end of the course, he had an idea to construct a facility that not only reflected his environmental philosophies but also demonstrated that it could be accomplished through sustainable construction techniques and using recycled and refurbished materials.

 

In 2000, Mr. Jewett noticed an article in the local paper about a demolition company that was dismantling steel buildings.  Mr. Jewett telephoned the company to inquire about the availability of steel beams and was directed to an “agent” who specialized in buying and selling materials from demolition sites.  Mr. Jewett retained the agent who informed him that the buildings mentioned in the article were already resold but there was another building that may interest him located in Oshawa.

 

Arriving on-site prepared to bid; Mr. Jewett found himself looking at 3 old General Motors buildings. He promptly bought all 3 buildings and with the assistance of skilled labour, the buildings were disassembled piece by piece, loaded onto 8 semi-trucks and shipped to the farm.  As the farm plans evolved, Mr. Jewett determined that the 24’ high I-beams of the biggest building were perfect for an arena.  After being stored in a field for over 2 years, the beams were refurbished and reassembled on new concrete footings to create the 200’ x 100’ arena.  In hindsight, Mr. Jewett laughs and says “there was this pile of steel in my field, I had no idea which beams went were”.  With the assistance of a contractor who had experience in erecting refurbished buildings, they were able to determine the order of the beams and sort through the materials from the remaining buildings to determine which were suitable for re-use.  The remainder of the building material was re-sold.

 

Mr. Jewett also mentioned to the agent that he was in the market for good timber.  The agent found the remaining materials from the Joseph Seagram Distillery in Waterloo which was demolished in 1993.  After another successful bid, Mr. Jewett had the timber from the distillery building trucked from a storage yard to the farm. The dark wood rafters and the stall post and beams are all Douglas fir salvaged from the distillery. The structural posts in the barn and in the link building which leads to the tack room are made from the 4”x4” barrel racking rails. These were once used to hold the whiskey barrels during the aging process.  Even the wainscoting along the walkway from the stable to the arena was re-sawn from this material.

 

Mr. Jewett continued to collect materials that fit the design of the facility.  In 2002, he read an article about a company named Priestly who were planning to demolish Terminal 1 at Pearson International Airport.  He was able to acquire the window glass, a receiving door and an old Customs bench. The glass and receiving door were incorporated into the arena and the customs bench now provides seating in the viewing lounge.

 

The Douglas fir stall planks are made from the floor joists salvaged from an old warehouse on Toronto’s King Street since demolished for a condominium.  One morning, with flashlight in hand, Mr. Jewett browsed through the building at 7 am and spot bid on items.  He says, “You may spend less on materials but [you] spend more on time than anything else”.  With a demolition schedule looming, Mr. Jewett had to move quickly to remove the timber he had just purchased.  He noticed that his local building supply store regularly shipped materials into the city for construction but the trucks would return empty.  He contacted the store and asked if they could stop by the site, load the wood and ship it north again. For a nominal fee, the supply store agreed.  In time, the Douglas fir planks were de-nailed and planed and then reassembled as the stall fronts and exterior surfaces.

 

In 2004, Mr. Jewett happened upon the 24’ diameter hexagonal skylight by chance. On his way home from work he noticed construction equipment outside the Thorncrest Mall on John Street in Thornhill.  He took a chance and approached the site foreman to inquire about purchasing the skylight.  The foreman agreed and arrangements were made to disassemble the structure. The skylight was taken down, pane by pane, loaded on a truck, and stored in the same field as the arena beams for over 12 months.  It was reassembled when the time was right and hoisted onto the roof by crane.

 

Mr. Jewett credits his successful construction to a flexible design.  He had an original concept in mind and collected the materials he felt suited his vision.  Many changes were made during the 5 years it took to assemble the material and construct the facility.  The barn’s skylight is a good example; because the skylight was not included in the original design, the building roof aperture was too small to accommodate its size.  The aperture was adjusted and reinforced to hold the weight of the glass.  Looking at the roof today, you would not notice that the skylight over-reaches the roof aperture by about 2 feet.  Jewett says that “it is these subtleties that give the building its unique character”.

 

Mr. Jewett recognizes that this type of material sourcing isn’t for everybody. It is a time consuming process and most times, the shipping and labour components associated with salvaging materials far surpass the value of the material itself. For Jewett however, reducing his environmental footprint by using recycled and refurbished materials was more important to him. “If you are willing to do the leg work and put in the time to view materials and ‘sleuth’ around then you can definitely get a deal”, he says.

 

If he were to do it all again, Mr. Jewett recommends that people start by visiting stores such as The Habitat for Humanity Re-Store or National Building Supply.  He also suggests that you start talking to people as one thing leads to another.  If your budget permits, you could also contact a demolition company directly or retain an agent that specializes in finding these types of materials to assist you.

This article has been prepared by the Healthy Lands for Healthy Horses Steering Committee, which is comprised of representatives from Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Equestrian Federation, Horse Facilities Council, Uxbridge Horseman’s Association, Ontario Trail Riders Association, and various Conservation Authorities.  Funding for events organized by this committee has been provided by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association from the Nutrient Management BMP Demonstration Grant funding project.

For more information please visit: www.equineguelph.ca/healthylands.php

 

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General | green | horse | recycle

Back To Your Roots Western Canadian Annual Producers Conference 2012

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 3, 2012 08:34

 

 

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Feed | General | nutrition

War on Weeds

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   November 8, 2011 07:25

With four canisters loaded onto his pack mule, Forest Service ranger Hal Pearce looks like he’s packing Pepsi into the backcountry.  But actually, he’s hauling herbicide to spray noxious weeds in areas of the backcountry where ATV-mounted sprayers aren’t allowed.  Pearce and fellow ranger Tom McClure co-invented the Saddle-Light, a secret weapon int he war on weeds.

“Fighting weeds in the backcountry is time- and labor-intensive,” Pearce says.  “The Saddle-Light is a horse-mounted weed sprayer that enables you to pack n more herbicide and treat larger areas.”

Previously, hikers carried backpack sprayers that treated a mere .06 acres of weeds before requiring a refill.  It was exhausting work, and the only weeds that were sprayed were those within reach of a half-day hike.  Backcountry mountains that had turned golden from the spread of yellow toadflax, a rampant noxious weed in Colorado, were beyond reach.  But Pearce and McClure, rangers in the White River National Forest, knew there had to be a better way. 

For the entire story: http://ryantbell.com/2009/12/01/bi-war-on-weeds/#more-604

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General

Growing Food - The Ream's Way

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   October 7, 2011 08:10

courtesy Back to Your Roots Soil Solutions Fall Edition Newsletter


A
new way to understand
soil chemistry holds the
secret for not only rehabilitating
deteriorating
soils of the world, but also
to put back in the stomach
of the world’s hungry,
a richer more nutritious
food in greater abundance.
Dr. A.F. Beddoe


The sad part is that it’s no longer new. Over 50 years ago, brilliant minds like Reams, Albrecht, Northern, and others recognized the erroneous direction agriculture and food production was taking. We can spend hours defending and explaining how
each sector has its faults and short comings, but that is not our focus. We need to find solutions and reduce the need to react to the epidemic that is occurring in our fields, gardens and hospitals.

An overview of what we need to do:

We are growing food….for something!

It’s time to start thinking about what plants need to grow. Let’s consider the following:
Depending on the source, research indicates that 80 – 95% of plants are made up of water, sugar, and protein. Water, sugar and protein consist mainly of N, C, O, and H. All these minerals that are supplied in abundance in the environment. Basic protein
consists of all four minerals, basic sugar molecules are made up of C, O, and H, and water, of course, is O and H. The remainder of the plant is made up of Calcium, Phosphate and trace minerals. Looking at a mineral tag from your animal feed supplements, the first mineral on the tag is Calcium, the second Phosphate,
then the electrolyte minerals of potassium, magnesium and sulfur.
Following this is the trace minerals.  If we are growing food, the question then becomes “why aren’t we applying the minerals that are needed for nutrition.”
Let’s take this a bit father.  Vegetative growth (roots, stems and leaves) is controlled by three minerals calcium, potassium and chloride. Chloride is a mineral that can be detrimental to the soil flora. Calcium has characteristics of building structure, regulating other minerals and works with Phosphate to promote photosynthesis.
It is involved in cell wall rigidity, and the development of pith. Potassium is an electrolyte mineral that mainly draws and holds water. It does other important
functions in the plant. The choice then becomes do you want a plant with increase sugar content, or a plant that has higher potassium levels and more water.
Cationic mineral (plant reproduction) include all the other minerals with the exception of Hydrogen, Oxygen, Helium, and Nitrogen.  Phosphate creates the synapses for photosynthesis and sugar production in the plant, Sulfur and Magnesium are also electrolyte minerals that draw and hold water. This choice seems clear.  Ok, you’re asking “why don’t just use more nitrogen”? You could, but here is the complication.
Nitrogen is free in the air we breathe (i.e. 78%). If your plant is healthy it can absorb
the nitrogen it needs from its environment. Biology living in an environment in the ground that contains air and nutrients can absorb and recycle all the nitrogen a plant needs. In an ideal world, you just decreased your inputs. Synthetic fertilizers will add salts to the soil which in turn will slow your biology’s activity or stop it all together.
The rest of the minerals are considered trace minerals.  Each plant has a specific need
based on its DNA. If we ensure as many of the minerals need for plant growth are present in the soil, the plant will be able to take up what it needs.  In the soil, Calcium is needed for flocculation. Some call this mellowing, but it’s the softening, the structuring and the start of creating a neutral environment.  Excess potassium and
magnesium will shift the soil balance to cause hardening, compaction and cracking. All
mineral should balance to your water soluble Calcium levels.
It’s an overview. A place to start finding solutions.

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Leonardo DaVinci quotation

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   October 7, 2011 07:44

"We know more about
the movement of celestial
bodies than we do about
the soil underfoot"-
Leonardo DaVinci

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Early Frost and Nitrates - FAQ

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 23, 2011 15:37

Early Frost And Nitrates - FAQ

 

What happens to the plant after a frost?

Essentially, the cold temperature freezes the water in the plant cells creating crystals that enlarge and expand, creating a rupture and leakage. When the plant cells are warmed by the morning sunlight, the water crystals melt leaving damaged cells behind. The longer the duration of the frost on the plant, the more severe the damage will be. The damage to the plant will depend on the duration and temperature affecting the plant. Some reports indicate that prolonged exposure of several hours with an air temperature of -2oC should be considered a killing frost. Other reports indicate that damage can occur at an air temperature of 0oC as the plants will feel the cold four to five degrees cooler.

What parts of the plant are most critical to look at in the event of a frost?

The first part of the plant to look at is the seed head or pod, if it's in the flowering to seed filling stages. Most commonly, killing frosts will stall any further development of the seed head or pod. If the plant is in the flowering stage, it is unlikely that conditions would allow for further seed development. Should the plant be in the seed filling stage, the plant is more mature and less susceptible to frost. A factsheet is available discussing the effects of frost on oilseeds, pulses and cereals.

How can I tell how severe the frost was?

Usually it takes 24 to 48 hours to determine the extent of the damage. This can be prolonged in cool, damp weather. Damaged leaves, pods or seeds will appear watery and lose rigidity. Remember that different plant species have different frost tolerances. As well, damage will be variable between cereals, pulses, oilseeds and forage crops, and will vary depending on what stage of maturity the crop is at. Older crops are more capable of handling frost than younger crops.

Where do nitrates come from?

Under normal growing conditions, roots are continually absorbing nitrogen in the form of nitrate for storage in the stalks and stems. The leaves are the metabolic engines of the plant that utilize the nitrate to build protein and other nitrogen-based compounds in the plant and seeds. In the event of a killing frost, the plant development is arrested and the leaf tissue cells are potentially damaged beyond repair, but the roots will still continue to transport nutrients from the soil to the stalks and stems. This is how the potential nitrate build up could occur. In the event of a frost, one should expect that nitrates will exist in the plant tissues.

When should I cut my crop as a forage crop?

Several points must be addressed before deciding on when the crop should be cut for forage, and what method should be used to cut it. To decide when to cut a forage crop to preserve quality, evaluate and determine the extent of the damage to the plant during the:

Flowering Stage – Severe Frost
Under severe frost conditions, growth and maturation of the seed head or pod will be stopped. The crop will not be harvestable as a grain crop. If leaf damage is also severe, consider cutting the crop as a forage crop as soon as possible to capture forage quality, and plan to deal with nitrates in a feeding management program. Test the forage for nitrates to get an accurate account of nitrate levels in the forage.

Flowering Stage – Mild Frost
If the frost is not severe, consider waiting and watching the crop for two to four days to see if the seed heads or pods continue to mature and develop. The plant may recover and continue to develop. However, if the frost was severe, growth will be stopped and one should consider cutting it immediately to capture forage quality. Test the forage for nitrates to get an accurate account of nitrate levels in the forage.

Seed Maturation/Milk/Soft Dough Stage – Severe Frost
Under severe frost conditions, growth and maturation of the seed head or pod, and filling of the seed head or pod, will be stopped. It is unlikely that the crop can be harvested for grain. However, this is a good stage to be cutting the crop for optimal forage quality. If leaf damage is severe, consider cutting the crop as a forage crop as soon as possible to capture forage quality. If leaf damage isn’t too severe-the grain heads or pods are just starting to fill and the environmental conditions aren't conducive to cutting and baling-there is more flexibility in waiting several days versus cutting the day after the frost. Test the forage for nitrates to get an accurate account of nitrate level in the forage and plan to deal with nitrates in a feed management program.

Seed Maturation/Milk/Soft Dough Stage – Mild Frost
Under mild frost conditions, examine the crop for damage to the seed head or pods. It may take a couple of days to ensure that the crop will continue to develop as normal. If head, pod or leaf damage is noticeable, a decision can be made to consider cutting the crop as a forage crop as soon as possible to capture forage quality. If leaf damage isn't too severe-the grain heads or pods are just starting to fill and the environmental conditions aren’t conducive to cutting and baling-there is more flexibility in waiting several days versus cutting the day after the frost. Test the forage for nitrates to get an accurate account of nitrate levels in the forage and plan to deal with nitrates in a feed management program.

What about millet and frost?

Millet is a relatively new, high yielding crop available to Saskatchewan producers. However, it is severely affected by an early fall frost. Temperatures of 0oC to -5oC causing frost may result in some millet varieties turning dark green to black the morning of the frost. Crown or proso millet, pearl millet and sorghum sudangrass are easily killed by a frost. The foxtail millets, such as Golden German millet and Siberian millet, may recover from a light frost.

After a frost, producers should examine the crop to determine whether the whole plant was affected or just the top leaves. If the whole plant has been killed by the frost, producers can cut immediately to preserve forage quality and bulk tonnage, while planning to do a forage nitrate analysis (note: millets tend to accumulate nitrates quite quickly, so a nitrate analysis should be considered regardless of frost). If weather does not permit cutting, the crop can be left standing until more favourable weather develops, as millets do not lose their leaf matter as quickly as cereals when affected by frost. With a light frost, the top leaves may only be damaged and will turn a tan colour two to three days after the frost. With a light frost, the growing point of the plant will remain viable and will produce a new leaf in five to seven days. With damage from a light frost, cutting can be delayed depending on the amount of growing weather remaining in the season. Grazing the millet may also be an option should the field be grazing capable (see below).

There are rules of thumb that suggest a) cutting immediately the day after frost, b) waiting two to four days or c) waiting seven to 10 days after a frost. Which rule of thumb do I follow?

a)  Cutting before the frost would prevent the stockpiling of nitrates; cutting the crop immediately the morning after the killing frost would reduce the time allowed for the roots to store nitrates in the plant, minimizing the final level in the plant; and cutting immediately may also maximize the potential forage feed quality, again depending on the stage of maturity of the crop.

b) As the survival rate of the leaves goes up, the wait period to cut the forage would go down. Therefore, consider waiting from two to four days, as there are more leaves available to utilize the nitrates. Keep in mind, though, that waiting to cut may result in reduced forage quality and a poorer feed.

c) A waiting period of several days after a frost is based on the following theory: even after a killing frost, the roots of the plant will continue to absorb nitrates from the soil and store them in the stem and stalk. If a large majority of the leaves are killed by the frost, they will be unavailable to utilize the nitrates, resulting in an accumulation of nitrates. The rule of thumb would be to wait seven to 10 days to allow the remaining leaves to metabolize and utilize the stockpiled nitrates.

Which is the higher priority - concern with nitrates or forage quality?

The decision on when to cut a crop for forage after a frost should be based on forage quality first, and nitrate content second. Essentially, a severely frozen crop will have a damaged seed head and will not mature as it would under normal growing conditions. Further waiting may also result in the plant losing leaf matter to leaves drying up or rotting, potentially further reducing forage quality.

Also, one cannot determine nitrate content of a forage immediately after a frost while it is still standing in the field. The producer should first cut the forage to capture forage quality, assuming that there is an opportunity for nitrates to be present, then plan to test the forages for nitrate content at a later date. The decision to wait on a crop to eliminate nitrates involves more guesswork than control, as there is no indication if nitrates are even present in the first place.

Waiting may occur by default as haying conditions may not be present at the time one intends to cut. Producers can deal with the nitrate issue with a feed management program.

Can I graze a frost damaged field with my cattle or sheep?

Turning cattle or sheep out onto a field affected by a severe frost requires extra management and attention. The cattle/sheep should only be allowed into the crop for 30 minutes to one hour the day following the frost, AFTER being fed in the morning, and then they should be removed from the area. Repeat the next day and slowly introduce the cattle/sheep to more and more of the crop over a five to seven day period to allow the animals to adjust to the nitrates and the higher quality forage. There will be an adjustment period by the stomach bacteria over that time period. Caution should be exercised, as sudden introduction to the crop will result in nitrate overload and nitrate toxicity.

What about cutting the forage crop for silage? Will that reduce the nitrate content?

In order for good silage to be made, the crop has to be cut at the most opportune stage of growth. For cereals, this will normally range from the late milk to mid dough stage of maturity. Making silage may or may not reduce nitrate content. If inadequate packing of the silage occurs, nitrate content may be reduced at the cost of making poor silage. If the crop is packed into a ground pit silo, leaching may occur, allowing for some nitrate loss. Take samples of the silage as it is dumped into the silo and when the ensiling process is complete to fully determine what the nitrate content is.

What nitrate levels should I be concerned about?

Pay attention to a nitrate level of 0.5 per cent (dry matter basis). Any levels above 0.5 per cent will require extra management decisions to be made. A fact sheet on nitrate toxicity and management can be found under Production | Livestock | Health.

Practical Conclusions and Final Decisions

Theory suggests that undamaged plant leaves can use stockpiled nitrates. However, when cutting immediately after a frost or waiting several days post frost, the presence of nitrates will depend on fertilization levels, weather conditions during the growing season, and severity of the frost. The most simplified approach is to first assess the damage, then decide on a course of action based on the severity of the frost. If plant development is affected, and a decision to harvest the crop for forage is made, consider cutting immediately to prevent any further deterioration and capture the best forage quality possible. If there is a concern about overall nitrate level, one should consider waiting several days before cutting, but only if there are adequate numbers of surviving leaves to utilize the nitrates.

Finally, plan to have nitrates in the forage after a severe frost regardless of when the crop is harvested. It is also important to prepare a feed management plan when utilizing a forage containing nitrates.

 

Fall Management of Perennial Forage Stands

 

Charlotte Ward, MSc, PAg – Regional Forage Specialist - Yorkton

The typical production schedule for a perennial forage crop usually consists of 3 to 5 years of high yield (honeymoon period) followed by a rapid decline in productivity. Once this 3 to 5 year honeymoon period is over, factors such as declining soil fertility and decreasing plant numbers typically result in lower production. Another key factor that will affect long-term stand productivity is timing and frequency of harvest – whether or not producers take a 2nd cut of hay or grazing and the timing of that harvest.

Proper management of these stands from now until freeze up can help to mitigate the natural decline in productivity.

How can soil fertility affect stand productivity and why should be thinking about it this fall?

As we harvest perennial forages and remove the plant material from the field, we are also removing a tremendous amount of nutrients from the soil as well. High yielding forages will remove more nutrients than low yielding forages, which will in turn likely remove more nutrients than if the stand were grazed. Over time we need to replenish these nutrients. Manure, commercial fertilizer and even feeding livestock on the field can all be used as tools to import nutrients.

If alfalfa makes up 50% or more of the production in the stand and was properly inoculated at seeding, nitrogen is generally not a concern in the forage stand as the alfalfa will fix all the nitrogen that the stand needs. Phosphorus, potassium and sulphur are the three nutrients that we tend to focus more on in stands that contain a significant portion of legumes as legumes are high users of these nutrients. Phosphorus and potassium are of particular importance as they contribute to root and nodule health and the over-wintering capability of the plants. Both of these nutrients can be fall applied as they are relatively immobile in the soil and they will not leach or volatilize to the atmosphere like nitrogen will. Fall application of these nutrients can also help to decrease the work-load next spring. The most cost-effective way to know where your stand is at in terms of soil fertility is to do a fall soil test.

How does the timing of harvest and frequency of harvest affect forage yield?

Improper cutting of alfalfa stands can lead to winter kill. Understanding alfalfa physiology can help to avoid this problem. In the plant, energy is produced in the leaves through the process of photosynthesis and is used to fuel plant growth. As the plant produces excess energy, it is stored in various plant parts such as the roots and crown. The stored energy is used for regrowth following cutting, plant maintenance over winter and growth during early spring.

When an alfalfa plant is cut, few leaves remain and the plant may draw on stored energy reserves for regrowth. Generally the plant will need 6 weeks to replace leaves and replenish stored reserves to pre-cutting levels. Thus there is a 6-week critical period after cutting that the plant needs to ensure that it has good energy reserves going into winter. This is of particular importance to producers looking to take a second harvest off their fields, either through mechanical harvest or grazing livestock.

Plants harvested after August 15th may not obtain six weeks of good weather of replenish reserves before a hard frost and can go into winter with low energy levels. Plants with low energy levels are more susceptible to winter kill. If it is necessary to take a second harvest, producers should wait until after a killing frost as the plants will shut down and will not try to mobilize energy reserves.

Fall harvests should be approached with caution as harvesting plants after August 15th reduces the stubble height of the field which is important for trapping snow and spring moisture next year. Standing alfalfa will not only trap snow this winter, but will also cover the soil next spring and summer to minimize moisture lost through evaporation.

What can producers do this fall to optimize forage yield next year?

·       Avoid cutting between August 15th and the first killing frost

·       Ensure there is adequate soil fertility, including phosphorus and potassium which is             particularly important for root health and development as well as nodule health

·       Manage stubble for maximum snow cover

Stay Connected Issue 75



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Fall Management of Perennial Forage Stands

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 1, 2011 17:51


Charlotte Ward, MSc, PAg – Regional Forage Specialist - Yorkton

 

The typical production schedule for a perennial forage crop usually consists of 3 to 5 years of high yield (honeymoon period) followed by a rapid decline in productivity. Once this 3 to 5 year honeymoon period is over, factors such as declining soil fertility and decreasing plant numbers typically result in lower production. Another key factor that will affect long-term stand productivity is timing and frequency of harvest – whether or not producers take a 2nd cut of hay or grazing and the timing of that harvest.

Proper management of these stands from now until freeze up can help to mitigate the natural decline in productivity.

How can soil fertility affect stand productivity and why should be thinking about it this fall?

As we harvest perennial forages and remove the plant material from the field, we are also removing a tremendous amount of nutrients from the soil as well. High yielding forages will remove more nutrients than low yielding forages, which will in turn likely remove more nutrients than if the stand were grazed. Over time we need to replenish these nutrients. Manure, commercial fertilizer and even feeding livestock on the field can all be used as tools to import nutrients.

If alfalfa makes up 50% or more of the production in the stand and was properly inoculated at seeding, nitrogen is generally not a concern in the forage stand as the alfalfa will fix all the nitrogen that the stand needs. Phosphorus, potassium and sulphur are the three nutrients that we tend to focus more on in stands that contain a significant portion of legumes as legumes are high users of these nutrients. Phosphorus and potassium are of particular importance as they contribute to root and nodule health and the over-wintering capability of the plants. Both of these nutrients can be fall applied as they are relatively immobile in the soil and they will not leach or volatilize to the atmosphere like nitrogen will. Fall application of these nutrients can also help to decrease the work-load next spring. The most cost-effective way to know where your stand is at in terms of soil fertility is to do a fall soil test.

How does the timing of harvest and frequency of harvest affect forage yield?

Improper cutting of alfalfa stands can lead to winter kill. Understanding alfalfa physiology can help to avoid this problem. In the plant, energy is produced in the leaves through the process of photosynthesis and is used to fuel plant growth. As the plant produces excess energy, it is stored in various plant parts such as the roots and crown. The stored energy is used for regrowth following cutting, plant maintenance over winter and growth during early spring.

When an alfalfa plant is cut, few leaves remain and the plant may draw on stored energy reserves for regrowth. Generally the plant will need 6 weeks to replace leaves and replenish stored reserves to pre-cutting levels. Thus there is a 6-week critical period after cutting that the plant needs to ensure that it has good energy reserves going into winter. This is of particular importance to producers looking to take a second harvest off their fields, either through mechanical harvest or grazing livestock.

Plants harvested after August 15th may not obtain six weeks of good weather of replenish reserves before a hard frost and can go into winter with low energy levels. Plants with low energy levels are more susceptible to winter kill. If it is necessary to take a second harvest, producers should wait until after a killing frost as the plants will shut down and will not try to mobilize energy reserves.

Fall harvests should be approached with caution as harvesting plants after August 15th reduces the stubble height of the field which is important for trapping snow and spring moisture next year. Standing alfalfa will not only trap snow this winter, but will also cover the soil next spring and summer to minimize moisture lost through evaporation.

What can producers do this fall to optimize forage yield next year?

·        Avoid cutting between August 15th and the first killing frost

·        Ensure there is adequate soil fertility, including phosphorus and potassium which is        particularly important for root health and development as well as nodule health

·        Manage stubble for maximum snow cover

The Soil Food Web

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   August 26, 2011 11:30

 

The soil foodweb is the tonnes of beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes that live in soil or compost. The value has been overlooked, undervalued and misunderstood for decades.  Recent discoveries in soil biology show a huge potential to improve current organic, biological and conventional growing and farming and move away from costly synthetic inputs.

Today, soil ecologists recommend thinking twice before adding ingredients blindly to soil. Instead, we should actively measure what is actually living in the root zone of our crops before adding any ingredients blindly to soil.  The soil foodweb is the tonnes of beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes that live in soil or compost. The value has been overlooked, undervalued and misunderstood for decades.  Recent discoveries in soil biology show a huge potential to improve current organic, biological and conventional growing and farming and move away from costly synthetic inputs.

Today, soil ecologists recommend thinking twice before adding ingredients blindly to soil. Instead, we should actively measure what is actually living in the root zone of our crops before adding anything because they have discovered that the plant we see above ground are in a complex symbiosis with microbes in the root zone. It is soil life that provides the ‘living bridge’ to store and make nutrients in the soil available to plants. It is the protective barrier of friendly fungi and bacteria around the roots of plants that protect plants from disease and crop stress.  Encouraging the growth of life in the soil by creating better habitat and providing proper and adequate foods, sets free currently unused levels of profit-making potential in soil, naturally.  Use of chemicals and excessive tillage or poorly composted manures  has destroyed this huge potential.  This way of growing plants is called soil foodweb health management and was developed by world-renowned soil micro-ecologist, Dr. Elaine Ingham. She has dedicated her career to help us grow crops better by directly observing and promoting life in the soil. Soil foodweb management puts back the valuable life in the soil that has been destroyed or is missing.

This allows us to move away from costly synthetic inputs that cause so many problems. Commercial growers using the soil foodweb management programs, report substantial savings in crop production input costs, reduced water usage and increases in yield and quality.

 

Article courtesy of: Back to the Roots Soil Solutions www.back-to-your-roots.com

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