The Fair is scheduled for Tuesday, August 10 through Saturday, August 14. For schedule, exhibits and forms visit https://www.addisoncountyfielddays.com. We need your crop submissions to make our display spectacular! Submit your crops at the north end of the 4-H Exhibit Building on Monday, August 9, between 8:00 a.m. and noon. Judging begins at 1 p.m. Contact Karen Gallott if you have any questions about entries – 802-388-4969, firstname.lastname@example.org
In This Issue:
- Focus on Agriculture
- News, Events and Info You Should Know
- Opportunity For Farmers to Develop Grazing Plans
- Managing Nitrogen in Hay and Pasture Crops
- How Much Carbon Should You Add to Your Soil? and Soil Health Testing Coming to a Field Near You
- On the Wild Side
- Addison County Fair and Field Days Crop Entry Info
Read the full Summer 2021 Newsletter as a pdf.
This article is part of our Summer 2021 Newsletter by Kirsten Workman.
Perennial crops can be hard to target for nitrogen (N) applications, as the decision often depends on stage of establishment and species composition. Both factors change over time and adjustments should be made from season to season, or even within the same season. Below are factors to consider when trying to target the most efficient use of manure-based and purchased nitrogen in your perennial crops.
Grass and legumes (alfalfa, clovers, trefoil) each have very different nitrogen needs. Grass crops will respond readily to both manure-based and fertilizer-based nitrogen. Grass species not only reward adequate N supply with increased yield, but also increased quality. Applying up to (and sometimes over) 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre on grasses almost always yields an economically viable response. Legumes, on the other hand, do not need additional nitrogen from manure or fertilizer. Legumes have a fascinating symbiotic relationship with a soil-borne bacteria known as rhizobia. Rhizobia fixes atmospheric nitrogen in nodules on the roots that it colonizes, and then transforms it into plant-available nitrogen. As a result, a clear stand of clover or alfalfa would not need additional nitrogen fertilizer or manure to reach maximum yield or quality. However, very few hay or pasture stands in Vermont are 100% grass or legume, and most farmers want a combination to maximize the benefits of species diversity and production. In these cases, we adjust the recommended nitrogen application rate to maximize production but still encourage the legumes in the stand to fix nitrogen. Fixing nitrogen is a trade-off for the plant, which shares carbohydrates with the rhizobia. This means that if extra nitrogen is available, plants can become “lazy” and not invest energy in that association. Additionally, a mixed stand with legumes that is treated with N up to the grass rates will encourage a shift of dominant species towards grasses as the grasses begin to outcompete the legumes.The table below shows how the nitrogen recommendations change depending on the legume content of the stand. In this case, grass is defined as any stand with less than 30% legume.
Because N is mobile (both in the soil and the plant), it is important to split applications to maximize uptake by the plant and reduce losses. With hay and pasture, fortunately, we take multiple harvests and have the opportunity to split applications into reasonable amounts to be utilized by the crop over the course of the season:
• Grass: split applications into 50 to 75 pounds per acre increments, ideally following each harvest.
• Mixed stands (30-60% legume): one single 40-pound application; if applied in early spring, a second 40-pound application may be beneficial.
N During Establishment (New Seedings)
Nitrogen fertility is not recommended for establishing legumes and mixtures. The exception is when a small grain is seeded with the legume or mixture. In this case, a 30 pound per acre application is recommended to get the companion crop up and growing ahead of the weeds. For a new grass seeding, the following recommendations apply:
• 50 pounds per acre for a spring seeded crop.
• If more than one harvest occurs in the seeding year, a second application of 40 to 50 pounds should be applied.
• Late summer seedings only need 30 pounds per acre.
Reducing Needed N With Maintenance of Legumes
If nutrients are limited and you are trying to reserve manure-based nitrogen for crops like corn or pure grass, take steps to maintain legumes in your stand. This will reduce or eliminate the need for manure or purchased nitrogen. Strategies to help maintain legumes include:
Maintain higher soil pH (6.8).
• Leave adequate crop residual between cuttings, but especially after your last cutting.
• Consider a less intensive cutting schedule to ensure adequate regrowth between harvests. Time your last harvest to allow for adequate regrowth before frost.
• Monitor and maintain adequate potassium and boron levels in the soil.
At the end of the day, managing nitrogen resources on hay and pasture crops will pay off. A well-fertilized grass crop will pay you back in most years. However, manure is especially tricky, as it is easy to overapply N on mixed stands and this can contribute to legumes becoming less competitive, leaving the stand open to weeds. If you want to maintain legumes, back off on N and manage for legumes. Split applications for the best effect and, if possible, utilize low disturbance injection to really make the most of N in manure applications.
Making nutrient management decisions systematically on your farm and keeping good records is all part of having a nutrient management plan. Even without a formal plan, you can make informed decisions based on these basic principles. We are here to help farmers optimize yields and manage their inputs wisely.
*All recommendations are from “Nutrient Recommendations for Field Crops in Vermont” (September 2020, https://go.uvm.edu/br1390). For specific recommendations, consult your crop adviser or call Kirsten for more information. If you would like help managing nutrient application rates, or have other related nitrogen questions, contact Kirsten at email@example.com or 802-338-4969 ext. 347.
By Kirsten Workman, Agronomy Specialist
This article was originally printed as part of our Fall-Winter 2020 Newsletter.
In the Champlain Valley, we spend a lot of time and effort managing phosphorus (P). Rightfully so, as it is the pollutant behind algae blooms in Lake Champlain. Our clay soils often bind to it tightly, making it less available to plants when they need it most, and it isn’t perfectly balanced with crop needs in our manure applications. All of this makes it a tricky nutrient to manage. However, we have taken our eye off another primary macronutrient as a result.
Nitrogen is the dominant macronutrient in agriculture. While it hasn’t had top billing here lately, it is probably the most important and studied nutrient from a crop production standpoint. Without adequate nitrogen, yield and quality can be compromised. Nitrogen drives vegetative growth and protein content, having a direct correlation with forage value in livestock systems and nutrition in food crops. In watersheds where the receiving surface waters are marine (e.g., the Connecticut River which drains to Long Island Sound, or the Mississippi River which drains into the Gulf of Mexico), nitrogen causes water quality issues like eutrophication and algae blooms – the same problems that phos-phorus causes in Lake Champlain. Generally, N is much more mobile than P in soil. Because of this, it is often prone to loss. The primary pathways for N loss are:
• Volatilization – N turns into ammonia gas and dissipates into the atmosphere. (Applying nitrogen when temperatures are cool, a light rain is expected to facilitate incorporation, or by physically mixing it with the soil can reduce volatilization risk. Nitrogen stabilizers can also inhibit this reaction.)
• Denitrification – Occurs in saturated soil conditions when nitrate turns into N2 and N2O gas. (Good soil drainage, high soil organic matter and proper pH, split N applications and nitrogen stabilizers can help prevent excessive denitrification.)
• Runoff – Carries nitrogen from manure, fertilizer and eroded soil off the field into ditches, creeks, rivers and streams. (Field buffers, reducing erosion, properly timed nutrient applica-tions can reduce N runoff.)
• Leaching – When N can’t attach to soil particles or be taken up by plants, it easily leaches downward with soil water toward groundwater and even out tile drain outlets. This is much more common in sandier soils that do not have the water holding capacity of heavier soils like clay and loam. (Applying manure and nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season, proper nutrient management, avoiding fall-killed sod, and utilizing cover crops to increase nutrient uptake can decrease the amount of N leaching.)
A primary reason nitrogen is analyzed so much, is that farms can often see immediate impacts from over or underutilizing nitrogen. In addition, good N management can also save a farm a significant amount of money in fertilizer savings. This often gets overlooked when N prices are low (as they have been recently), and farms are prone to “insurance applications” of N to make sure they aren’t shorting their crops. With prices averaging between $0.28 to $0.41 per pound of N¹ (depending on the type of fertilizer), it can seem like a cheap way to ensure good yields and quality. However, in a time of tight margins and increasing environmental regulation this can be an unsustainable way to operate. And if you are an organic producer, the $3 to $5 per pound cost of N fertilizer means you probably already understand the value of farm-produced nitrogen, and being as efficient as possible with those homegrown and purchased sources of N². In 2018, Vermont agricultural producers utilized almost 10,000 tons of nitrogen fertilizer, with another 7,000 tons of multi-nutrient fertilizers that likely had some portion of nitrogen³. In comparison, during this same time period, 15 tons of phosphate fertilizer was sold for agricultural use.
In the coming months, we’ll dig deeper into the world of nitrogen and see where we can do a better job providing our crops with adequate nitrogen without breaking the bank or causing unintended environmental consequences. We will consider:
– Corn and Nitrogen: Managing N in corn silage crops and how do we know if we’ve overdone N applications? A Caring Dairy Prove-It Project case study on Corn and Nitrogen.
– Managing N in hay and pasture crops and letting nature pay your fertilizer bill.
– Manure and N management – how do we make the most of the nitrogen in our manure?
– HomegrowN – taking credit for all the nitrogen on your farm, not just the stuff you purchase outright.
If you have a question about N fertilizer or manure management you can also contact Kirsten at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One tool available to producers to evaluate N management strategies is the Corn Stalk Nitrate Test (CSNT), seen here on the Gosliga Farm (Addison, Vt.). It is designed to be a report card assessment at the end of the season to help modify and improve N management strategies on the farm in future years. The CSNT is a useful tool that indicates whether the nitrogen supply for that year was low, marginal, optimal, or in excess of what the corn needed this year. Corn that has received inadequate N will remove N from the lower cornstalk and leaves during the grain filling period. Plants that have received more N than needed to attain maximum yields tend to accumulate nitrate-N in the lower stalks at the end of the season.
¹ August 2020 (Progressive Farmer by DTN), https://www.dtnpf.com/agriculture/web/ag/crops/article/2020/08/12/fertilizer-prices-remain-lower-first
² Organic N price based on estimated costs of bulk sodium nitrate (a.k.a. Chilean nitrate)
³ VAAFM, 2018-2019 Vermont Fertilizer Analysis Report https://agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/agriculture/files/documents/PHARM/Fertilizer/Annual%20Report%20Fertilizer%202018-2019.pdf
In This Issue:
- Focus on Agriculture, by Kirsten Workman
- News, Events and Info You Should Know
- Relief for Dairy Farms, by Jake Jacobs
- Cover Crops & No-Till are a Net Benefit for Foster Brothers Farm, by Kirsten Workman
- Improved Cattle Lanes Benefit Land & Animals, by Cheryl Cesario
- Deer Stewardship Certification Program, by Jeff Carter
In This Issue:
- Focus on Agriculture, by Jeff Carter
- News, Events & Info You Should Know
- Opportunities for Grazing Funding, by Cheryl Cesario
- Grassland Manure Injection: By The Numbers, by Kirsten Workman
- Two Bedrock Professors Retiring: Will Be Missed in Jeffords Hall and Beyond
- End of Gypsum Project Leaves us with Important Lessons and Questions, by Kristin Williams
- USDA Authorized Flexibilities Help Producers During the Coronavirus Pandemic, by Jake Jacobs
- Notes on the Wild Side, by Jeff Carter
Newsletter Highlight From Grassland Manure Injection: By The Numbers (pg. 4) With funding from VAAFM’s Clean Water Fund and the help of Ken and Debbie Hicks at Hicks Equipment, we purchased the right equipment from the Netherlands. With the expertise of Eric Severy of Matthew’s Trucking to operate it, we began demonstrating the utility of this system. Shallow slot grassland manure injection gets liquid dairy manure just two inches below the soil where it is protected from runoff during rain events while still well within the root zone where the plants will use it. Read More
Save the Date: 2021 No-Till Cover Crop Symposium March 4-5, 2021. More information coming soon. We’re joining forces with the Northeast Cover Crop Council to bring you a full day and a half of information related to no-till and cover cropping. go.uvm.edu/ntccs If you missed this year’s symposium you can also read presentation pdfs and the proceedings online.
The CARES act authorized payments through USDA for covid-19 related income losses, this is called Coronavirus Food Assistance Program or CFAP. Don’t be confused by the name – this includes financial payments to farmers for losses incurred due to the pandemic outbreak.
CFAP assistance applications are administered through your local Farm Service Agnency (FSA) office and applications are being accepted March 26, 2020 through August 28, 2020.
Information on all these rules and qualifications can be found at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap. The website includes a payment calculator and printable forms (scroll down the page to see all forms required).
Application eligibility requirements include:
- Specified agricultural commodities that have suffered at least a 5 percent or greater price decline (dairy, beef, forage crops all qualify, mid-January to Mid-April timeline) OR or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions and face additional costs.
- Average adjusted gross income <$90,000 or derive at least 75% of income from farming.
- Be in compliance with other USDA rules such as Highly Erodable Land regulations.
You must apply through your local FSA office by mail, fax, hand delivery or electronic means, however offices are only open for phone appointments at this time. You should contact your local office before submitting your application. Reach your local FSA office for questions. In Middlebury, you can call 802-388-6748 and fax 802-497-3679.
Factsheets by Category:
Dairy CFAP calculations are being split into two categories: CARES Act payment which will compensate producers for price losses during the first quarter of 2020 and CCC Funds payment which will compensate for marketing channel and demand disruptions for the second quarter of 2020 (April, May, and June) due to COVID-19.
If you need assistance with HEL compliance or have other agronomy related questions that we can help with, call our office at 802-388-4969 and leave us a message.
Tuesday July 23rd, 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. 1966
Healdville Rd, Mt. Holly, Vt 05758
Join us at Plew Farm, a diversified livestock farm owned and operated by Kevin and Patti Plew, for a pasture walk and ice cream social. The Plew’s will share with us how they manage all of their livestock – beef, pigs and poultry – on pasture and are utilizing rotations grazing principle.
Or contact Cheryl Cesario at 802-388-4969 ext 346
UVM Extension Agricultural Business Program is hosting their annual business clinics across the state. These 1 1/2 hour appointments are available for producers to discuss farm, forest and maple business management. Ag Business Clinic Info & Registration.
Agricultural Risk Management and Crop Insurance Education Program at UVM has a new website, chock full of handouts and resources for your agricultural enterprise. Check out the Ag Risk website!
In This Issue:
- Focus on Agriculture, by Jeff Carter
- News, Events & Info You Should Know
- New Revenue Protection For Dairy Farmers, by Jake Jacobs
- East Creek and McKenzie Brook Highlight 2018, by Kristin Williams
- Reducing Farm Labor and Conservation Resources: Conservation Farmer of the Year Uses Cover Crops and No-Till
- Grassland Manure Injection, by Kirsten Workman
- Year in Review, Summary of Projects