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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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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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Very wet spring conditions have made it almost impossible to spread manure in April and much of May, and some of what was spread would have been better remaining in storage – that is unless, like many, storage was about to overflow.

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Obviously this spring has been a challenge in terms of getting field tasks done. For one producer I work with, manure spreading was interrupted by the need to plant crops.

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The UW Extension Nutrient and Pest Management Program has produced this instructional video on determining manure application rates as part of the process in determining nutrient credits from field applications of solid and semi-solid livestock manure. Featured in the video is the process of weighing a manure spreader to determine the net weight of a representative load of manure using portable wheel weighing pad scales.

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