Monthly Archives: June 2014

Ensure you remain on our agvocate list and continue receiving our monthly Agvoca…

Ensure you remain on our agvocate list and continue receiving our monthly Agvocate Tip emails once the new anti-spam legislation comes into effect. We need you to re-subscribe:


Agvocates | Agriculture More Than Ever
www.agriculturemorethanever.ca
An agvocate is an individual or group that actively promotes agriculture in respectful and meaningful ways. Adding your name to our agvocate list is great way to get started and join a community of like-minded people. You’ll receive an email from us every month, with agvocate tips to help you speak…

Gaining Ground: The Secret to Top Quality Haylage and Silage

B-Wrap John Deere bale balerGood forage makes money, but poor forage is money lost. Tom Kilcer, of Advanced Ag Systems in Kinderhook, NY, has spent years researching forage production, forage quality, and livestock performance. Here’s what he’s learned.

Contrary to common assumptions, forage does not dry by the same mechanisms from start to finish. They are, in fact, three distinct phases, and understanding how forage dries is key to achieving the quality of forage product you want.

The first phase is the natural evapotranspiration of moisture along the stem and out through the leaf pores (stomata) — a very rapid process. Legumes, such as alfalfa, have 10 times more stomata than grasses, which means that they will actually dry faster than grass during the first phase. Stomata are open in daylight and closed in the shade, and will stay open until the plant reaches 57% to 65% moisture (younger, more tender plants lose more moisture before the stomata close). This, of course, is the ideal moisture level for making silage.

Of equal importance is the fact that the plant continues to respire, in the sun or in the dark, until it reaches 60% to 65% moisture, at which point the cells are no longer active. This respiration process equals a loss of highly-digestible carbohydrates (sugars and starches). In warm and humid conditions (like the centre of a swath), this loss can equal 16% to 30% of the initial dry matter. Prolonged wilting can reduce starch levels in red clover and alfalfa by about 56% and can result in sugar levels too low to ferment properly.

Once the stomata close, the plant continues to lose moisture through its skin, but at a rate 10 times slower, down to about 45% moisture. In the final phase, field curing removes the tightly-held water and dries the plant to levels suitable for dry hay.

The challenge, therefore, is how to minimize losses through respiration by rapidly drying the forage naturally through the plant’s stomata. Here are the rules:

Go Wide: Keeping in mind that the stomata close in the dark but respiration keeps going, it is logical to expose as much forage as possible to the light. Forage in a wide swath will receive three times more sunlight than a narrow swath, and this sunlight will also raise the temperature of the swath through the day.

Narrow swaths are much denser than wide swaths, reducing drying even more, and they hold heat and moisture inside the swath, increasing the rate of respiration. Research shows that only the top three-quarters of an inch of forage dries at a time: in a 3.5-foot wide swath, only about 22% of the forage is drying; in a 11-foot swath, 70% of the swath is drying at once.

The added bonus of wide-swath forage is photosynthesis: plants exposed to sunlight will continue to make carbohydrates through photosynthesis until they dry below 70% moisture. This process can actually more than offset losses from respiration: wide-swath forage can increase in potential milk production from the time it is cut until it is dry enough for silage. The process of photosynthesis also requires water, leading to more moisture loss from the plant.

Simply put, the wider the swath, the faster the drying. Kilcer has had the best experimental results using a sidebar sickle mower, which leaves the swath at 94% of the cutting width (though he hastens to add that he’s not advocating a return to this technology!). The most benefit comes with a swath that is at least 85% of the cutting width. If your mower is not capable of this, tedding the swath after 1 hour will be beneficial.

No Conditioning: Conditioning crushes the stems of the plant, breaking the capillary flow of moisture up the stems and out through the leaf stomata. This slows the initial drying process, and at the same time, it also increases the rate of respiration – a double whammy for forage quality. The research shows that conditioning in not needed for silage as it only increases the drying rate in the second phase of drying, from about 60% moisture down to around 40%.

Be Ready: Kilcer notes that at first, many farmers are not prepared for how quickly wide-swath, unconditioned forage will be ready to make haylage. First cut grass and alfalfa can reach less than 68% moisture in as little as one or two hours.

Other Considerations

Kilcer’s research has shown that a 9 am cutting time results in the most efficient drying. Trying to get higher sugar levels in the forage by cutting late in the day will only work if the nights are cool and dry; otherwise the plants will continue to respire and lose carbohydrates all night long. Narrow swaths compound this problem by holding more heat and humidity overnight.

Harvesting forage the same day it is cut also increases overall yields by eliminating traffic on regrowth: studies have shown a 25% yield reduction on areas traveled 5 days after cutting; driving on the swath, on the other hand, doesn’t hurt it.

But what about dry hay?

According to Kilcer, conditioning forage is only required when making dry hay, and this is still best performed as a second step, once the plant has had a chance to dry rapidly through the first phase. Doing this 4 hours after cutting will result in dry hay after 3 days when using an accelerator and after 2 days when using a macerator (the accelerator crushes the stem while the macerator actually peels the waxy layer off the stems). Wide, loose swaths are still the best for making dry hay.

Making top quality forage is both an art and a science. An understanding of how hay dries and the impact of the drying processes on forage quality can help guide decisions on how to deliver the best quality forage to your cows. Good luck this haying season!

Gaining Ground is a multi-part series on cultural management practices for all management systems with a heavy emphasis on the importance of soil health and productivity. For the entire list of articles, click here.

The post Gaining Ground: The Secret to Top Quality Haylage and Silage appeared first on Real Agriculture.

New Holland’s New Tier 4B Guardian Sprayer Series

The Sp400F, the highest capacity sprayer in New Holland’s Guardian series, made its debut at Canada’s Farm Progress Show. The Guardian models have 300-380 horsepower, selective catalytic reduction, Tier 4B compliant engines and 1000-1600 US gallon tanks. They also have 50/50 balanced weight distribution on a four-wheel hydrostatic drive with hydraulic suspension, allowing for maximum traction, floatation and increased comfort. For more serious terrain, the four-wheel crab steering option is available.

In this video, Jason Hardy, crop production marketing manager, gives us a tour of the SP400F, exploring in greater depth some of the qualities mentioned above, and also diving into some of the “creature comforts” offered in the cab.

Want to see more coverage of Canada’s Farm Progress Show? Click here!

If you cannot view the embedded video, click here.

The post New Holland’s New Tier 4B Guardian Sprayer Series appeared first on Real Agriculture.

It’s going to take everyone working together to help tell ag’s real, positive st…

It’s going to take everyone working together to help tell ag’s real, positive story. Sign up as an Agvocate on our new website and we’ll send you a monthly email with tips to speak up for ag.


Agvocates | Agriculture More Than Ever
www.agriculturemorethanever.ca
An agvocate is an individual or group that actively promotes agriculture in respectful and meaningful ways. Adding your name to our agvocate list is great way to get started and join a community of like-minded people. You’ll receive an email from us every month, with agvocate tips to help you speak…

Canola School: Helping Beneficial Insects Feel at Home

As canola moves into flower, farmers are doing a great job scouting, scouting and doing more scouting. If you’re like most farmers, though, seeing insects immediately raises a red flag. While, yes, there are several pest species of note in the canola crop, not everything that moves or crawls on the crop is a pest. What’s more, taking action with an insecticide without a full investigation into species present and risk of damage, isn’t just a waste of money, it’s a significant risk to the beneficial insect population in the crop.

“We think of action thresholds as the number,” says Ken Fry, Olds College entomologist. “It shouldn’t be considered that static.”

Instead, Fry advises, the action threshold is a sliding scale that depends on a full assessment of the situation.  Financial analysis, environmental conditions, crop health and beneficial populations should all be considered before deciding to act on pest population numbers.

Everything that you do for your plant, influences the pests. – Ken Fry

In this video, Fry speaks to the importance of beneficial insects in pest management, provides tips for increasing beneficial insect populations and shows a sweet video of a ground beetle devouring a cabbage looper larvae.

If you cannot view the embedded video, click here.

The post Canola School: Helping Beneficial Insects Feel at Home appeared first on Real Agriculture.

Animal Care Codes of Conduct Are More Than Busy Work

Owen RobertsWith all the red tape and busy work farmers already face, who wants more? No one, I’m sure. Not even people who kind of like paperwork.

But I’m hoping an effort underway to have farmers create an animal care code of conduct will be seen by most as more than a nuisance.

In Ontario, an organization called Farm and Food Care is being proactive in urging farmers to adopting such codes.

It says an animal care code of conduct exists to protect the safety and welfare of workers and animals. It’s meant to acknowledge animal welfare is important everyday on the farm, and to provide a transparent understanding of what is and what is not acceptable conduct.

“A code of conduct is not a secret,” says the organization. “It should represent your company’s values and expectations of itself and its employees, and you should be ready to share it publicly on a sign or on your website.”

Click here for the Farm and Food Care template!

Farm and Food Care says the code can be a direct discussion point during the hiring and training process, before any new hires work with animals….and those that won’t sign the code of conduct shouldn’t be hired. It can be introduced or periodically re-introduced to employees as a renewed commitment to the importance of doing the right thing every day.

Let’s iterate: this is not a code of silence. It’s a code of conduct.

In fact, farmers who have one should be shouting about it from the rooftops. Talking broadly about your code of conduct could engage a lot of people in a discussion about what you do and why you do it.

And really, it’s important to do so every chance you get, along with whatever else it takes to keep the public on your side. Animal agriculture’s enemies are getting increasingly aggressive and slick. Inside and outside of agriculture, there’s a sense of increasing sophistication among animal rights groups – especially those who envision a world where everyone becomes vegan — undermining the traditional trust farmers have enjoyed with the public.

More and more, these groups are working behind the scenes to get on the agendas of decision makers and policy makers. They’re even appearing in the public eye as a measured voice. I saw a here-to-help editorial in my local daily newspaper this week, discussing pet care during hot weather. The author? Someone from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)! It’s among the most extreme animal rights group, yet there it was, putting on a moderate face to try to win over that vast majority of people who don’t support civil disobedience.

And look at what’s happened with shock abuse videos. I suspect a lot of people don’t care who blows the whistle on farm animal offenders. If it’s an animal rights group, they’ll score points. It doesn’t matter that such abuse cases are minimal compared to the good welfare practices that dominate livestock production — it’s like food safety, when a single case of food poisoning brings the whole system under suspicion, even though millions of meals are prepared and served every day that are perfectly safe.

For animal rights groups, it’s persistence rather than victory, although you see scurrilous claims about the latter increasingly popping up. That said, farmers need to treat all this very seriously if they’re going to win arguments about their right to farm, and maintain the freedom and flexibility they need from the public to produce safe, wholesome food. Such freedom depends on a deeper understanding by consumers – and from the same decision makers and policy makers being pressured by animal rightists — about what farmers do, and why they do it.

Codes of animal acre conduct will not eliminate the kind of abuse seen on undercover shock videos. But they’ll help conscientious farmers show everyone – including their employees and the public – their livestock is always top of mind.

The post Animal Care Codes of Conduct Are More Than Busy Work appeared first on Real Agriculture.

Do you like our ag-proud resources? Our new website makes them even easier to sh…

Do you like our ag-proud resources? Our new website makes them even easier to share. Check it out for yourself and share your fave resource with your friends and networks!


Agriculture More Than Ever » Resources
www.agriculturemorethanever.ca
Click on the image to visit our Twibbon page where you can add a badge to your Facebook and Twitter profile to show your pride in Canadian ag.