[Past- Middlebury, VT October 18, 25, November 1, 8, 2018]
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m
The fee is $40 which includes The Art and Science of Grazing book by Sarah Flack. This class is for farmers who currently own livestock and want to create, improve or expand their pasture management system.
Want to change from confinement or set rotation to management intensive grazing?
Have a grazing plan, but want to better understand how to implement it?
Need grazing infrastructure (e.g. fence, water, animal trails) and would like to design a system that may qualify for NRCS financial assistance?
Pasture plant identification of common species, looking at favorable growth conditions, and how plants respond to grazing impact.
Pasture nutrition and how it can affect grazing behavior and overall intake and animal performance.
Grazing management concepts such as measuring dry matter availability, determining paddock sizes, stocking rate versus stocking density and overall acreage requirements.
Soil health in pasture systems and the benefits of soil, forage and manure testing to understand nutrient cycling and nutrient management within pasture systems.
Pasture system design to determine infrastructure needs and management techniques to avoid overgrazing damage, decreased carrying capacity and other negative impacts.
Grazing record keeping systems and the benefits of monitoring and documenting activities
In addition to 4 class dates, there will also be opportunity for one-on-one consultation.
Focusing on Agriculture in the Champlain Valley and BeyondBy Jeff Carter. This season’s challenges and ways to move forward.
News, Events & Info You Should Know Agricultural Conservation Highlights Tour; NMP Updates; Mock Inspections; Business and Ag Support for You; New Grazing Class; No-Till and Cover Crop Symposium.
What Do I Do Now? RMA Update By Jake Jacobs. Coping with weather unpredictability by planning ahead.
Demonstrating Success: Corn Hybrid Trials By Kirsten Workman. Corn hybrid trials were a successful way to see what shorter season hybrids might be paired with cover crop adoption.
Newsletter Feature – Grazing as a New Management Practice By Cheryl Cesario. The process of adopting grazing management seen through one farmer’s experience. Also – new grazing class to teach you how to develop a grazing plan!
Managing Slugs Begins in the Fall By Rico Balzano. Making decisions now to manage slugs next year.
Helping Farmers Adapt to a Changing LandscapeBy Nate Severy. UVM Extension and the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition are working together to provide farmers with valuable insights for adaptive management.
Join the UVM Extension Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team and the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition for a field day at Bonaspecta Holsteins Farm to see innovative agricultural practices designed to reduce erosion and protect water quality. Come learn more about:
Using a Roller-Crimper to flatten and terminate Winter Cover Crops
No-till corn tips and troubleshooting problems
Cover Crop mixes and how to decide on species and seeding rates
Water quality monitoring in the McKenzie Brook Watershed: methods and data to quantify water quality in an agricultural watershed
TWO (2) Water Quality Training Credits for farmers!
This event is one in a series of events happening for Clean Water Week.
Free lunch at 12:30 generously sponsored by Seedway. Come join the fun!
Thursday, August 31st 2017 Short Season Corn Hybrid Field Day11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Vorsteveld Farm | 3925 Panton Road, Panton, VT (just across the street from the telephone building, next to the new solar panel installation)
Join the UVM Extension’s Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team and local seed suppliers in the field to see our corn hybrid demonstration, comparing shorter season corn varieties (85-98 day). Can we accomplish high yielding corn and timely cover crop seeding? Come check it out. We’ll take a trip down the road and check out some long season hybrids too! Research in northern VT has suggested that variety, as opposed to just day length, is important in determining corn yield. To this end, we have planted 21 corn hybrids ranging from 85 DRM to 98 DRM to assess yield and quality. The objective is to test varieties on our soils and find optimum day length so that there is more time in the fall for cover crop seeding and establishment without sacrificing yield. We will also have the opportunity after lunch to look at some longer day hybrids in a different field and take a look at this farms novel approach to no-till, manure application and cover cropping.
By Jeff Carter, Agronomy Specialist, Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team
Corn fields look a lot different this year and many people are taking notice of the changes. Yet the weather seems to repeat itself in Addison County; early warm, then too wet, and then too dry. This reminds me of two years ago, when we experienced extensive prevented plantings and over-mature
hay, followed by a good old drought for two months. I sure hope you are working closely with crop insurance agents and FSA to protect your business from the financial risk of weather extremes that we are seeing this year. This season has been a roller coaster as the early spring turned sour, and we are almost a month behind schedule for corn planting
and hay harvest.
Just taking a ride around the Champlain Valley, you see the difference in fields, with so much more cover crop activity and no-tillage taking place. I know that the rye cover crop can seem way out of control but think again, because this is a new way to farm (thanks, Robert Rodale.) The tall rye can
be a blessing for farmers who have jumped into no-till corn and use the rye to their advantage. Most of the early corn planted in May was planted no-till straight into standing winter rye, while many of the fall-plowed fields had delayed or prevented plantings. Harrowing-in a tall rye crop can be a nightmare that delays conventional planting and ties up nitrogen. However, leaving the tall rye standing can shade the new corn plants too much, even when killed. We want cover crops to benefit, not hurt, the corn crop. A few local farmers are now knocking down tall winter rye with a roller-crimper as they plant corn. (Read more about this technique
on page 4.) This looks very different, and may be a bit scary, compared to a bare soil field that was plowed and harrowed multiple times.
The rye provides a nice mulch to conserve soil moisture for a dry August and saves soil. Like other practices, it takes a new mind-set to adapt and succeed when working with these fine-textured clay soils since cover crops influence the dynamics of insect and weed pressure on the crop. Let’s see how this turns out. We have seen some great success with no-till on clay and we have also seen some disasters. Cautious, yet steady, is how you need to adopt these new farming practices for success.
We are also moving into a new set of projects this year and stretching our limits with agronomy – “the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fiber, and land reclamation.” In coordination with partners, we are looking at the economics of no-till and cover crop systems; soil amendments such as humates, mycorrhizae, gypsum and liming materials for soil productivity; testing manure slot-injection with a drag hose into hay fields; testing P levels in streams and tile outlets; developing pasture planning and grazing classes; and evaluating a new P-Index for Vermont. We are here to help, let us know how these new farming ideas work for you.
Extreme weather can put a farmer out of business, and anyone involved in production and agricultural business knows this very well. Given the variability of weather conditions in Vermont, it is somewhat common to experience excess water early in growing season, as is the case with this spring. This is in stark contrast to last summer’s drought, which caused different problems for area farmers. One tool to deal with this variability is insurance.
Forage seeding is insurable if:
1. It is alfalfa, or forage mixture
containing at least 50 percent alfalfa, clover, birdsfoot trefoil or any other locally recognized and approved forage legume species (by weight); or
2. It is planted during the current crop year to establish a normal stand of forage. This policy does not cover any acreage that is grown with the intent to be grazed, or grazed at any time during the insurance period; or interplanted with another crop (except nurse crops).
VERMONT CROP INSURANCE
DEADLINES: Fall-Seeded Forage 2017
• Sales Closing Date: July 31
• Final Planting Date: August 31
• Acreage Report Date: November 15 Spring-Seeded Forage 2018
• Sales Closing Date: March 15
• Acreage Report Date: May 15
• Final Planting Date May 10
Spring 2017 started relatively dry, but Mother Nature has certainly made up for it, with above average rainfall in May, and the seventh wettest June in 100 years (National Weather Service, Burlington, VT).
While this spring’s rainfall may average out to be normal, the timing of it has caused some problems. Rain started to increase just as corn planting season began, keeping soils cold and postponing planting. Cold soils delayed emergence and slowed growth in planted fields. More to the point, nitrogen fertilizer that was applied pre-plant or at planting time has seen extremely susceptible to loss. Nitrogen is lost through denitrification in saturated soils, and is lost through leaching in well-drained soils. Either way, nitrogen is often not there when the corn needs it. This will prompt many farmers to think about applying nitrogen to corn while it is growing, a technique known as sidedressing, which is a more efficient
use of nitrogen, especially on soils prone to leaching.
The good news is that the organic nitrogen in manure has been slow to mineralize because of the cool temperatures and will still be there as the season progresses. However, it is safe to say many farms will be sidedressing corn with extra nitrogen this year.
The old, reliable way to predict how much sidedress nitrogen to apply is the pre-sidedress nitrogen test (PSNT). PSNTs are simple and affordable ($6-8). However, they require effort and only offer a snapshot in time; they do not account for previous activity nor for future nitrogen mineralization.
An alternative way to generate sidedress recommendations is Adapt-N software. Nitrogen is very dynamic in the soil so it is difficult to predict how much will be plant-available. Therefore, it is necessary to have as much information as possible about fertilizer, manure, previous crop and soil type to generate a good recommendation with Adapt-N. You can also assess the nitrogen needs of corn using chlorophyll meters, active sensors and aerial imagery. These can be effective when used properly, and local agricultural consultants can provide these services.
PSNT is recommended for corn fields 2 or more years after a sod, and/or where manure rate is uncertain, or if manure application is not expected to meet corn N requirement. PSNT is not recommended in first-year corn after a grass sod; first-year corn after an alfalfa grass stand is plowed down; or if enough manure was applied to meet corn N requirement.
Below are the PSNT sampling guidelines, a link to the UVM sample submission form, and the updated UVM nitrogen recommendations
based on PSNT results. Results are usually sent out within 24 hours since the information is time-sensitive.
PSNT Sampling Guidelines:
1. Wait 2-3 days after significant rainfall (due to nitrate
2. Sample when corn is 6-12” tall and sample to a depth of
12” – deeper than a regular soil test.
3. Take 15-20 cores per field from in between rows to avoid
fertilizer bands. Mix sample thoroughly.
4. Air dry samples ASAP to stop further mineralization.
5. Submit samples in small plastic bag (about 1 cup).
We just finished a two-year, multi-farm study on the health of clay soils, funded through a VT Conservation Innovation Grant through the NRCS. Measures of soil health (using Cornell’s soil health test) were not consistent, and we found that comparing practices over time was more informative than comparing field to field. One interesting, and maybe
obvious, lesson was the correlation between soil health practices and crop yields.
So, how do soil health practices influence yield? Research suggests soil health can improve yields. It is important to note our project focused on demonstration, not replicated research. We compared no-till and conventional/reduced till corn silage on 5 farms with clay fields in our region. A simple t-test revealed no significant difference in yield between no-till (19.1 tons/acre) and conventional (19.2 tons/acre). More importantly, we were able to demonstrate that a farmer can grow no-till without yield losses, and be successful with good management practices. A yield gain might take time as the soil builds up its condition.
We also wondered how cover crop species or mixes might affect corn silage yield. We had an opportunity to use a field where the corn was accidentally killed. We planted 15 different combinations, including 4 single species, 6 two-way mixes, and 5 three-way mixes. This project was a slight anomaly in that the cover crops were planted with a drill in late August, which allowed for a more vigorous production of all cover crops. Radish was a star in the fall, maximizing both phosphorus and nitrogen uptake. We did not measure phosphorus content in the spring, so we do not know how much was retained in the soil. It seems to have allowed
for more available nitrogen in the soil at the time of a pre-sidedress nitrogen test (PSNT), therefore requiring less nitrogen. Surprisingly, legume mix covers had good fall biomass, but that did not translate into more N mineralization.
We applied nitrogen to each plot as per the PSNT recommendation for 20 tons/acre corn silage. At the end of the season, we measured corn silage
yield and compared that to nitrogen applied (see graph). The winter rye plot had a lower corn silage yield and required more nitrogen. Other than the nutrient effect of less uptake and slower decomposition, there may have been a physical barrier created by the standing rye crop, which was particularly vigorous in the spring. However, our three-way mix (winter rye – oats – radish) actually had the highest average corn silage yield, even though it required more N at PSNT time than the pure radish stand.
So, do not go abandoning your winter rye just yet. In fact, we think this three-way mix has promise and we are looking for a mix that gives both fall and spring soil conservation. Radish alone will winter kill, which may be good for mineralization, but not as good for spring soil conservation. Oats also winter kill but provide faster fall soil cover than rye by itself.
When using an over-wintering cover crop, it is clear that timing and success of termination is critical for subsequent crop yields. Nitrogen mineralization may happen later in the season with a plant such as winter rye that has a heavier carbon content. In a no-till system particularly, you may need to adjust your nitrogen rates/timing and put more on upfront. If you are using cover crops, a PSNT seems like a wise investment.
It is also important to remember that soil health is a long game, and it may take time to see the results of your labors with cover crops. We have replicated this project by replanting these cover crops in the fall of 2016, this time planted in September, and will look at this again this coming season.