Final Report for FNE95-078

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 1995: $3,050.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1995
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
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Project Information

Summary:

Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE95-078

Mr. Barney felt that alfalfa and silage corn, though widely and profitably grown on the better drained and more fertile soils of western New York, might not be the best dairy feed to grow on the heavy soils of poorly drained uplands, of which he has a lot on his farm. He thought that he might do better to sow perennial grasses on his pastures, as this would reduce input costs and at the same time provide more effective erosion control. He and Daniel Steward, a crop consultant, together compared four different forage cropping systems: 1) corn for silage, 2) mixed legumes, 3) intensively managed grasses, and 4) old stands of grass, largely neglected. All, except for the mixed legumes, were grown on both well drained and poorly drained fields; the mixed legumes were grown only on well drained areas. They kept records of the costs of fertilizer, seed, lime, pesticides, fuel, labor and other inputs, and of yields, and calculated costs of production, both per acre and per ton of dry matter.

They found that on well-drained soils the costs of production were, not surprisingly, cheapest for the corn silage, at $52 per ton of dry matter. Inputs per acre were greatest for corn silage, but this was more than justified by the greater yield per acre. On poorly drained soils, however, production costs proved lowest for the intensively managed grass ($59 per ton, versus $65 for the silage corn). Yields per acre of silage corn were sharply lower on poorly drained ground, while yields of intensively managed grass were about the same on either drainage category. Mixed legumes were middling. Input costs per acre were low on the stands of old grass, but yields were so very low that costs per ton were consistently highest of the four systems, no matter the drainage category.

In conclusion, Messrs. Barney and Steward recommend corn silage for well drained areas, and intensively managed grass for poorly drained areas. They found reed canarygrass and tall fescue to thrive in the wettest fields, and recommend orchardgrass for somewhat better drained locales. They do not recommend bromegrass and timothy. They found canarygrass, tall fescue, and orchardgrass to be highly responsive to nitrogen application, which, to avoid N runoff, should be split applied, at least three applications per year. Applied N increases protein content, and delays maturity. They also recommend early and frequent cutting.

On poorly drained soils, however, production costs proved lowest for the intensively managed grass ($59 per ton, versus $65 for the silage corn). Yields per acre of silage corn were sharply lower on poorly drained ground, while yields of intensively managed grass were about the same on either drainage category. Mixed legumes were middling. Input costs per acre were low on the stands of old grass, but yields were so very low that costs per ton were consistently highest of the four systems, no matter the drainage category.
They found reed canarygrass and tall fescue to thrive in the wettest fields, and recommend orchardgrass for somewhat better drained locales They found canarygrass, tall fescue, and orchardgrass to be highly responsive to nitrogen application, which, to avoid N runoff, should be split applied, at least three applications per year. They also recommend early and frequent cutting.

Cooperators

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  • Andy Dufresne

Research

Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.