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Fertilizing

Nutrient management is essential to soil health and we’ve contacted the experts to guide you – read their tips for raising a successful forage crop.

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What do you see when you look at a bale? Certainly, many would say it is a source of feed for our livestock. Others see a commodity that is sold to their customers.

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While cattle farmers have used nitrogen-based fertilizers for years to stimulate forage growth during summer months, more ranchers like Mickel Shepherd are exploring alternatives to extend their grazing seasons.

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Maximizing your forage supply will be extremely important this year due to tight supplies and high prices for replacement forages. Be sure to use forage analysis on all your forages frequently this feedout period.

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Farmers have made excellent progress on this fall’s harvest and it’s time to think about next year’s fertilizer needs. The steady climb in fertilizer prices over the last year, the volatility in grain prices, and the precipitation and flooding extremes in some areas this past year make it even more important to do a good job of soil sampling this fall.

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As the 2011 crop year winds down, it is wise to consider next year’s nitrogen (N) management, even now. We know our Dairy State grows alfalfa in rotation with corn (grain and silage) and, livestock manure is often involved.

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Healthy, high-yielding, long-lasting stands of alfalfa need a healthy soil, with a good balance of nutrients, moisture and oxygen, as well as active soil biology in the soil profile.

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