st moor farm
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St. Moor Farm
St. Moor FarmAssessment and Proposed RecommendationsFarm Visit December 20, 1013Participants:Billy CammBrian CammKevin CammDon Yancey (NRCS District Conservationist)J.B. Daniel (NRCS Grassland Agronomist/Grazing Specialist)John Benner (VCE, Amherst ANR Ext. Agent)St Moor and its boundaries
Soil Map of the farm
Main Points from VisitAssessing soil fertility amending pastures with lime and fertilizerImproving grazing management which reduces need for hayRenovating bamboo field using annual forage rotation coupled with herbicide to reduce weed problemsInstallation of water line and trough in New FieldConduct stockpiling and strip-grazing demonstration in New Field during Fall / Winter of 2014Soil FertilityAcceptable pasture growth and nutritional balance in the forage, begins with proper soil fertility management.
All plants have specific requirements for 17 basic nutrients. Of those 17 nutrients, fourteen (including the primary nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) are derived from the soil. No pasture management plan is complete without a plan to manage the important nutritive elements in soils with emphasis on the individual needs of specific forage species (grasses, alfalfa, clovers, vetches and other legumes, etc.), or common mixes of species.
FieldAc.PhPKMajor MUSYield Est.(T/ac)Est.Tons/FieldImproved Yield(T/ac)ImprovedTons/FieldQuarter16.35.610 L+169 M+5C3 494+66Hay West4.35.977 H46 L38A3.515522Hay East5.45.948 H-43 L38A422527BambooNew16.65.910L+59L+45B2.8463.5 - 4.060ArrowheadOrchard5.146C/4D3.0154.020Bull145.99 L+158 M+5B/5C3.0424.0+56Tobacco5.122M166M+ Silo5.623M319VHHorse PastureTotal62 open and manageable acres for productive pasture useSoil type, fertility, and productivity summary by field.Recommendation of 2 tons of lime per acre in the fields with the arrowsbelow summarizes the productive pasture acreage by field, soil type, soil fertility, estimated annual production and estimated improved annual production if you apply the recommended lime, fertilizer and grazing management proposed in the text below. Based on the amount of mature oak trees competing with the pasture grass and the soil properties in the arrowhead field, tobacco barn field, and the silo field; I have excluded these along with the horse pasture to be low management areas which will likely not provide much yield response per dollar of input required. 7Soil Fertility and Recommended lime and nutrients by fieldFieldAc.PhPKMajor MUSRecommendedLime early 2014(Tons/ac)Recommended Fertilizer (P2O5) (K2O)Quarter16.35.610 L+169 M+5C2.0100 lbs.0 lbs.Hay West4.35.977 H46 L38A2.00 lbs.175 lbs.Hay East5.45.948 H-43 L38A2.00 lbs.175 lbs.Bamboo2.0New16.65.910L+59L+45B2.0100 lbs.175 lbs.Orchard5.146C/4D2.0Bull145.99 L+158 M+5B/5C2.0100 lbs.40 lbs.Pass out cost estimate from John Benner8Grazing Management Strategy
Grazing StrategyImplementation can improve:Livestock FlowForage UtilizationIncreased rest periods between grazing events to benefit the growth and production of the pasture
Using what we have nowstarting nowSilo/ Tobacco
Bull FieldOrchard FieldJack Lot & BambooNew FieldEast /West Field (Bottom)QuarterArrow-headthese fields are different sizes but understand you will not leave the livestock in each field the same length of time. Begin to manage these fields as separate units and rotate the livestock from one field to the next with the target of grazing on average 50-60% of the standing forage before moving them to the next field. Then provide a rest period of 20-45 days for sufficient forage regrowth before grazing the cattle on the same field again. For the cool season mixed forage stand that you have on your farm you should not allow the cattle to graze it below 4 inches during the growing season (April 1 to November 1). After grazing you should target allowing enough time for forage growth to reach 8-10 inches before rotating them into that pasture again.11
As pastures green up in the spring you might begin to rotate them through the pastures at the beginning of April. Between April and June if good moisture is available to the plants there will be an abundance of forage. You should target to only make hay one time annually on your pasture fields since you only have 20 head of cattle. 12Hay
What are the yields now?
What are we losing?
What resources are we using?
You presently have a stockpile of hay that you did not finish from the last year. Stagger these cuttings so all the hay is not made the same week (if possible), this will minimize risk of losses due to rain and poor drying conditions. Perhaps target some hay to be made in April and other fields to be harvested in May.
What are the yields now?What are we using?What are we losing?
Bamboo FieldAfter initial green up and grazing in April / May, we will assess the actual weeds present in the fieldUtilize appropriate IPMPlant annual forage mix for renovation no late than the end of MayShould get two grazing events before another planting in late AugustThis can be grazed in late October/early NovemberRegrowth will come back strong in march 2015 for another grazing opportunity in early AprilPlant annual forage mix for renovation no late than the end of MayPlant permanent perennial forage mix in August/September
What to plant and how will this work?
Mid May Annual Forage Mix35 lbs of Pearl Millet and 2 lbs of tillage radish
For what?Easy to plant, reaching full growth within 30 daysTaproot typically reaches over 30" deeper depending on soil and planting conditionsDrills through soil compaction thatstops other cover crops cold Soaks up N, P, Ca and other key soil nutrientsWinter kills when temperatures reach mid teens for a couple nightsRapid spring decay results in massive soil voids for air and water movementSpring soil warms up and dries quickly for better planting conditionsImproves drainage and air movementHelps suppress nematodesAttracts earthworms like a magnetShades out winter annual weeds with dense foliage coverPlant-available N released during radish decayN, P, Ca available when new plant seeds need it most
BiodiversityAnimal wasteCompaction eradicationWater infiltration
17August 2014 plantingSpring Oats, Ryegrass, Tillage radish
Focusing on the New field, I strongly encourage you to run a water line from the existing hydrant to the center of that field and install a frost free ball water trough. The central location of the water trough will allow you to subdivide this field with temporary electric fencing and greatly improve forage utilization and nutrient distribution in this field. The trough should be hooked to the line supplied by the pump from the pond. Don Yanceys office will provide the specs for the pipeline and water trough and the other design support to ensure the pump capacity and pressure switch are sufficient to deliver the proper volume of water for the trough.
A fence charger and electric fence component will need to be established in the New field to facilitate better grazing management no later than December 2014. I encourage you to stockpile forage in the New field from late August until Thanksgiving and be prepared to strip-graze your entire herd of cattle in this field through most of the winter. Attached is a stockpiling and strip-grazing protocol that many farmers have used and benefitted from to learn winter grazing management to maximize utilization of stockpiled fescue and minimize hay feeding days. By following this protocol you will learn to use temporary electric fencing and your cattle will quickly train to this type of management. If you like the results from this then similar improvements can be made on other pastures to improve productivity and utilization of the whole pasture resource. The bull field can be improved by splitting the field in half with a short division fence and providing water from the house by the orchard field to run a pipeline to that division fence and put in a trough to service both sides of the bull field in the future. We can plan or talk more specifics on the ground at our next visit if you wish.By starting in 2014 with the improved rotational grazing management coupled with applying the needed lime and fertilizer, then stockpiling fall forage growth for winter grazing; I predict you can easily cut your hay feeding days in half next winter and possibly eliminate the need for hay altogether the second year.