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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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For production and persistence of our forages, maintaining soil fertility is critical. Any fertilization recommendation should begin with the use of a soil analysis.

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Above-average rainfall equals above-average problems

Producers throughout much of the southeast U.S. have received above-average rainfall since Hurricane Michael hit last fall. Many of these producers have battled waterlogged soils and cloudy weather that led to delayed plantings or reduced yields of winter annual forages.

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Misconceptions abound on how much nitrogen is lost from applying urea on pastures and hay fields. Some producers think they can lose all the nitrogen applied as urea if certain conditions exist.

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If attending a planning and zoning meeting ranks right up there at the top of your list of exciting things to do, then, baby, you’re on the right track applying manure to your fields on a chilly morning with the wind blowing straight toward your neighbor. Just remember (when you’re sitting in that planning and zoning meeting defending agricultural practices and thinking you’d rather watch paint dry), you asked for it.

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What are the reasons, or goals, for applying fertilizer? Why fertilize alfalfa? Some reasons would likely include increasing or maintaining yield or avoiding “mining” the soil. There is another reason that AgroLiquid customers are discovering, and it ties in with the industry’s understanding that the digestibility of a ration’s forage component has a large impact on a cow’s milk production. That is why cut timing is carefully managed, weather conditions are closely monitored, weeds and insects are controlled, and the bunks are filled and packed quickly. Recently the dairy industry is also paying more attention to alfalfa fiber digestibility.

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When the acres of pasture, grass hay, alfalfa, corn and sorgum silages, and grazing wheat in the plains are all added up, forages account for by far the most acreage of any US crop. In fact, land used for grazing is over 780 million acres – equal to 40% of the entire land area of the US and nearly double the land used for other crops of all types. Add to that the 61 million acres of alfalfa, 15 million for corn and sorghum silages, then add in the grass hays and others, and you can see that forages comprise the vast majority of US cropland. And yet, it could be said that forages continue to be neglected when it comes to fertilization.

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