Wold you like to help the effort of conservation in Wexford County? If so, consider running for the board of directors. Wexford County residents aged 18 or older are eligible to run. Nominating petitions are due by 4:00 p.m. on August 25. The election will be held at the District open house on October 26, 2017.
Look for us in the Cadillac News! Our weekly column - "Conservation Corner" is featured on the back page of the sports section every Tuesday. Here's this week's article:
Forages for the Future
In our area, forages are king
Forages are what feed the livestock of our area. In particular, the dairy cows, beef cattle, horses, and sheep. Forage is defined as plant material that livestock graze, or that is cut and provided to them. This means crops such as corn, alfalfa, grasses etc., and in most cases the entire plant is fed to the livestock and not just the grain. For, example corn can be harvested as a forage. The entire plant and ear is chopped into one-inch pieces that is commonly referred to as corn silage.
Forages can provide additional benefits. For example, without the alfalfa and/or grasses in the crop rotation farmers would have additional challenges in producing their crops because alfalfa and grasses improve soil health and reduce soil erosion.
Grazing animals also enjoy forages, but in their case they eat the forage right out of the field. Some say this is the most efficient way to harvest the forage – have the animals do the work. Grazing is also very beneficial to the health of the soil, as typically there is very little soil erosion and the manure from the grazing is spread thru out the field.
On Aug. 24, Michigan State University (MSU) will host its second annual Agriculture Innovation Day: Focus on Forages and the Future at the Lake City Research and Extension Center located at 5401 West Jennings Rd.
The educational field day will deliver a cutting-edge, in-depth look at forages, livestock and the future to help farmers meet growing producer demands.
“Forage production plays a crucial role for livestock farmers across the state,” said Ron Bates, director of agriculture and agribusiness for MSU Extension. “This field day puts farmers in front of the leading experts, the latest research and the practical demonstrations they need to improve their bottom line with new strategies that also improve or protect the environment and allow producers to market to new consumer demands.”
In addition, attendees will hear from MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon over dinner.
Throughout the afternoon and evening, farmers will have the opportunity to participate in nine sessions focused on:
Making the Most of Reduced-lignin Alfalfa in Your Operation. Learn about the latest in reduced-lignin alfalfa genetics and results from a multiyear MSU study. Explore the differences in yield, quality and harvest timing, and what fits best for your operation and forage quality needs.
Precision is the Division in Silage. Hear from Brian Luck, University of Wisconsin Extension specialist in biosystems engineering, as he shares the latest on a mobile app designed to help producers and custom harvesters view images of processed kernels, particle size and distribution. He will explain how combining this with moisture and starch value data allows producers to use the right equipment adjustments to make the best silage possible.
Expand Your Use with Double-cropping. Extending your crop rotation to include cover crops can increase feed harvested per acre and extend the land base for manure application. Learn how double-cropping can provide an extra forage crop for heifers, open windows of opportunity for manure application, trap manure nutrients and remove more phosphorus from the system to virtually expand your land base.
Precision Dairy Cattle Monitoring. Do you have a Fitbit fitness tracker? Do your cows? Come learn how researchers and producers are using wearable technologies similar to Fitbit to monitor behavior, health and reproduction for each cow in their herd 24/7. Experts will discuss each technology and how or if it fits with various management styles, and when or if it makes economic sense.
Finding the Right Mix for Soil Health. Healthy soils are an essential for food and feed production. What we grow can improve our soils and ultimately our bottom line. Experts will look at how forage crop selection, crop rotations, cover crops and manure can affect the productivity of the soil and improve soil health.
Baleage Made Tight, Made Right. Take a look underneath the plastic wrap and see what is happening to the forage from a feed analysis and fermentation perspective. Explore proper moisture ranges, wrapping methods and techniques for ensuring a quality product so producers can improve their dairy and beef production.
Creating Profitable Beef Operations by Managing Land, Livestock and People. Burke Teichert, past manager of the Deseret Land and Cattle Company, one of the largest beef cattle enterprises in the United States, a current beef ranch consultant and featured columnist for Beef Today magazine, will speak on the critical factors of blending land, cattle and people to be successful in today’s beef farming environment.
Grass-fed Beef – Research and Experience. The MSU Lake City Research Center is a leading research center on grass-fed beef production. See the results from the five-year grass-fed beef study completed at Lake City and hear from John Nelson of Midland about his experiences in switching from cash crop to grass-fed beef and how this research has helped his bottom line and increased markets for his products.
Is Your Land Regenerating? The Land-to-Market Program Provides the Answer. The Savory Institute’s Land-to-Market program, with partners such as Michigan State University, is working to provide beef, sheep and dairy producers a process to verify that the land they are raising their livestock on is improving in well-defined quality indicators. This regeneration effort creates an opportunity for certified farms to reach new consumers who are concerned about how their food is produced. Learn the basics of the program, timelines for implementation and opportunities for participation.
“We are excited to bring new topics and in-depth discussion on forages and livestock in place of our traditional field day this year to not only expand knowledge of producers but to also make more people aware of the research and education taking place at the Lake City Research Center,” said Doug Carmichael, manager of the center. “These sessions will give farmers what they need to be successful environmentally, economically and socially.”
The event will begin with registration at 12:30 p.m. and wrap up around 9 p.m. The event is free and includes dinner. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required. To register or learn more, visit www.msue.msu.edu/msuaginnovationday or contact Ron Bates at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Williams is the USDA-Natural Resources District Conservationist serving Wexford and Missaukee Counties. If you are interested in learning more about forages, you can meet with Jim at the Wexford Conservation District / USDA-NRCS office at 7192 E. 34 Rd. in Cadillac. You can also reach him by phone at (231) 775-7681, ext. 3, or by email at email@example.com. The USDA-NRCS is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.
The Wexford Conservation District has a long history of working with its citizens on conservation issues. We invite you to explore our website to learn about the many ways we can be of assistance.
The whole corn plant was chopped making excellent feed for cattle. This forage was harvested last fall and stored in an oxygen free manner and is commonly known as corn silage.
Grass hay harvested from a local farm in 800 pound round bales ready to be stored for feeding to livestock at a later date
In a little over a month, farmers will be busy harvesting corn silage to be stored and fed to cattle at a later date.