Our farm is a third generation farm. We farm 1800 acres in South Central Iowa. For the past 8 years we have had a 200acre corn/bean rotation.
Another 400acres is planted to alfalfa and alfalfa mix hay. The first cutting is bales in large round bales and fed to our cows. The second, third, and fourth cuttings are put up in large square bales. They are stored in a barn and sold to dairies.
The remaining 1000 is in timber and permanent grass legume pasture. In the past, we have practiced rotational grazing. With the help of the Equip Program, we are in the process of changing to management intensive grazing.
7 years ago, my son Jeremy graduated from college. When he returned to full time farming in 2002, he began raising pure-bred, black Angus cows.
Today we have 150 pure-bred registered cows and Angus cows. This spring we AI’d 200 head.
For the past 30 years in cooperation with NRCS we have built terraces and ponds on all our crop ground and the majority of our hay ground.
One of the reasons we are in the hay business is to prevent soil loss on our highly erodible ground. With the use of no till and minimal till and grass waterways, we have erosion to a minimum.
During the years a 2003 through 2005 we learned hay milled did not respond significantly to fertilization of nitrogen over 50lbs per acre. In 2006 the price of nitrogen almost doubled since the previous year. To keep the price per ton of millet down, we fertilized the whole field with 50obs of nitrogen per acre and no potash and no phosphate. On 6/27 we field cultivated and broadcasted the millet and fertilizer and incorporated with a harrow.
yield: 3.5 tons per acre
The field was mowed and baled 8/25 and 8/26 with an average yield of 4.25 tons per acre. Because the ground was severely dry with deep cracks, we decided to no till the turnips to prevent soil moisture loss. We used a John Deere PowerTill Seeder to plant the brassica seed, the field was planted 8/27 with 20lbs Economy brassica mixtures, no fertilizer.
At first this seemed like a good idea. The brassica mix emerged sooner than in years past when using cultivation. But as fall progressed, the competition from the millet re-growth and weeds tended to shade the brassica and retard growth. We estimated the average yield of turnips, millet re-growth and weeds to be 6 tons per acre.