Tillage Radish: An Exciting Pasture Plant


Our no-till drill saw a lot of pasture activity during summer of 2012 and one of the many exciting things we experimented with seeding was tillage radish. Unlike the little red radishes you find in your salad, the tillage radish is a large tap-rooted variety that has the ability to grow several inches long in a short period of time. As with other tap-rooted plants, it has the ability to pull up nutrients from deeper in the soil and also helps break up soil compaction. The radish, being an annual crop, will rot over the winter months leaving a channel where it grew the previous year. This channel enables water and air to percolate into the lower soil layers.

One farmer who has been experimenting quite a bit with tillage radish is Guy Choiniere of Highgate. Guy broadcasts a mix of radish and ryegrass seed at 10 pounds to the acre. He will typically seed heavy use and other problem areas in June with a seeder mounted on his ATV. Once the radish has established, Guy lets his Holstein cows graze the radish tops. The tops re-grow enabling the cows to graze them again later in the season. If you haven’t already seen the UVM Extension ‘Across the Fence’ program about this project, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYHL5CCkhYM

Addison County farmers have wondered if the radishes would do as well on our heavy clay soils (Guy’s soils are fairly sandy). This season we were able to seed tillage radish with the no-till drill into pastures on farms in Addison, Cornwall, and Orwell. Success was noted in Cornwall, where radishes were seeded onto land that had been grazed and rooted by pigs. Seeding occurred before a light rain and germinated after just 2 days. Plants seeded in mid-August grew tops over a foot tall before frost set in and radishes grew up to 6 inches long. Next spring we hope to do more seeding trials earlier in the season so that the radish can grow to its full potential. Stay tuned!

Summary of Current Dairy Situtation Conference Call with Bob Wellington, Agrimark Senior Economist

Via Alan Curler…

The following is summary of a conference call with Bob Wellington, Senior economist with Agrimark, on Sept. 6, 2012 at 10:AM. These are notes taken by Bob Parsons, UVM Extension.

Current dairy situation: We are seeing the following conditions….Record low milk:feed ratio, $8 corn, $530 Soymeal, $17 soybeans, Drought in midwest, tight dairy economic conditions, rising milk prices but continuing increase in milk production….What does all this mean for milk prices in the coming months?

Bob Wellington:  Currently we are seeing US production leveling off, with some regions reporting less milk production than that reported by USDA. Michigan and
Wisconsin up but other states like California and New Mexico down. Vermont and New York are up slightly while PA is down in milk production. For the northeast We are seeing milk prices increase through growth of Class III and Class IV. Cheese prices have moved up as have prices for butter and powered milk. Exports now account for 14% of US production so they make a huge difference. Its helping farmers by raising Class IV and Class II prices.

In the coming months, we expect:
Sept payments for Aug milk to be up $1 from Aug checks and a$1.70 over July milkchecks.
By November, payments for October milk can expect blend prices to be over $20.
In December for November milk, expect blend prices over $21.
In January for December milk, expect blend prices of $20.
But we expect cheese or powder milk need to go up a bit and remain stable to meet these prices.

Next spring….CME dairy futures are hanging at $18-$20 for Class III through next spring.

Bob Wellington is more pessimistic about milk production than USDA as feed conditions could get worse. If production is lower, likely have $20 milk prices into next summer. Could we see $25….likely not because as milk prices increase, likely to lose international markets, dampening milk prices. With 14% of milk exported, a loss of exports will impact
domestic milk prices.

Policy update:
MILC was reformulated on Sept 1, which is detrimental to dairy farmers facing tight margins. Many questions of future actions of House of Representatives on the new Farm Bill. If Farm Bill is extended, it would include revised MILC which is not going to help dairy farmers. There are some big changes in the current dairy provisions of the Farm Bill passed by the Senate. What will come out will depend on the action, or inaction, of the House.  Stay tuned.

Question on why we are seeing decline in fluid milk consumption….
School consumption is down with elimination of flavored milk and preference of cafeterias for fat free milk. Fat free milk doesn’t taste as good.
Lots of alternative drinks out there with lots of promotion.
Lots of imitators…soy milk, almond milk, available and being pushed.
Processors promoting alternative products which are likely more profitable than milk.
Class I consumption in recent years is linked to the growth of US population. More people, more fluid milk consumption but lower consumption per capitia. Hispanic population
consumption of fluid milk is a big plus.
As fluid milk consumption per capita goes down, other products as cheese, butter, soft products, and powder have a greater impact on milk prices.