Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More forage, and GPS-guided fertilizing

We're still building up our forage inventory, and have recently harvested 22 acres of sudex (sorghum-sudangrass). We started Monday of last week by mowing the 10 acre patch across the road from my house. Three straight days of rain showers meant that it took us that long to get all of it baled and silage wrapped, but in the end we were left with 114 bales of "baleage". They will be on the high end of the moisture scale thanks to rain and very little sunshine between mowing and baling, and I'm estimating that they'll average somewhere between 1600-1750 pounds each. We cut an additional 12 acres this week, but the stand wasn't nearly as good. We yielded 68 bales on that acreage, but the moisture level was much closer to the 55% we prefer. You can check out this video from last year to see a bale of sudex being silage wrapped.

We've also cut 25 acres of crabgrass this week. That's right, crabgrass can make a pretty good forage! This is a "volunteer" crop that has established in one of our fields over the last few years. We typically plant this acreage in cool-season crops and use it for grazing in late fall and spring, and we opted not to plant sudex on it this summer. We've had some great drying weather this week, and we'll begin baling it tomorrow afternoon.

I'm also fertilizing our harvested fields, and I'm doing so with the aid of a demo GPS unit thanks to the Extension Service's Amy Winstead and the Alabama Precision Ag team. I applied 16 loads of dairy slurry ("Water 'n Poo") today on the first sudex field we harvested, and the GPS was a big help in making sure I got full coverage with the right overlap widths. The real test of the system's guidance (or my reliance upon it) was going to be tonight when I intended on spreading in a bermudagrass hay field after dark. Alas, a slow leak on a rear tractor tire progressively got worse this afternoon and forced me to postpone any further fertilization until the tire has been patched.

In other news, the weather has been great this week considering it's still August: low humidity, low temperatures in the 60s, and highs only in the low 90s with a nice breeze. The cows are much more comfortable, are eating more, and hopefully will be producing more milk than what they have been lately! Our intentions are to begin harvesting the last of our corn silage next week, and I'll be off the farm Monday and Tuesday attending a conference in Chicago.

Have a "dairy" good week, everyone, and don't forget to raise your hand for chocolate milk!!!

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