Evaluating small grains with silage corn in a double-cropping system on dairy farms
With our limited land base, it was felt that there may be some advantages to double cropping a portion of our land. We hope that we can produce more tons of high quality feed per acre and possibly gain more flexibility from a crop rotation standpoint.
My wife, Susan, and I operate a small dairy farm in West Claremont, NH. We are currently milking eighty-seven cows and have fourteen dry with approximately seventy-five head of young stock. This year we are planning to grow eighty acres of corn for silage. We will also be taking two to three cuttings of grass as dry hay and baleage on another eighty-five and a half acres. We lost a few acres of rented land this year due to a change of ownership.
My technical advisors for this project are Seth Wilner and Carl Majewski, both UNH Extension Educators. They have been instrumental in setting up the project and will be handling the details of the farm meeting. The labor force for this project consists of Ruel Chase, who has helped out with our crops for the last four years, and me.
Activities and Results to date:
My intention was to have the winter grains seeded by September 20, 2008. Unfortunately, the custom Harvester was two weeks plus late cutting our corn. Therefore, planting was not done until October 8, 2008. It will be interesting to see how this affects the outcome of the project. We applied one ton per acre of high mag lime and gave the land a good application of manure before working the ground. I had intended moldboard plowing, but my plows were down for repairs. Therefore, I chisel plowed, wheel and spring tooth harrowed the field before planting. I used an International 510 drill to seed. I put 125 pounds per acre of both the spelts and tritacale. I was shooting for 150 pounds per acre but my calibration of the drill was off a little. The triticale came up October 16, 2008 and seemed to be vigorous. The spelts were two to three days slower to germinate and to my eye did not seem to grow as aggressively. Both stands looked acceptable going into winter.
We had one unexpected cost so far. The seed was priced at $18.00 per bag for triticale and at $29.00 per bag for the spelts. Agriculver seed does not retail directly to farmers and gave me no local dealers. I also had trouble finding a source for winter spelts. Kings Agri-seeds in Pa had them. The triticale came from Albert Lea Seedhouse in Minnesota. With shipping included, the triticale was $29.50 per bag and the spelts was $31.65 per bag. Shipping was what made the triticale so expensive. If I do it again, I will find a closer supplier for the triticale.
I also purchased a grain drill instead of renting one. It cost me $500.00. I put approximately $750.00 into repair parts to make it right. The seed savings on winter cover crops alone justifies the expense.
When I broadcast rye, I put 100 pounds per acre while drilling uses 50 or 60 pounds per acre. At $560.00 per ton, it is quite a savings.
I plan on scouting the fields the week after Easter to see how things survived the winter. I am hoping the harvest date will be the end of May. I will keep track of yield, have the feed tested, and see how it feeds out and how it affects milk production. I plan to schedule the farm meeting in the Fall when next years’ winter grains are up.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
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