Field & Feedlot

Field & Feedlot is a monthly newsletter of current educational topics written by Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach specialists in Northwest Iowa.

JULY 2019

Northwest Iowa Research Farm Annual Field Day July 10 by Joel DeJong

Coping with Forage Shortfalls by Beth Ellen Doran

Summer Decision-Making by Gary Wright

Tips for Preventing Water Problems in Homes and Buildings by Kris Kohl

Archived Issues


 

Northwest Iowa Research Farm Annual Field Day July 10

Joel DeJong, Field Agronomist
jldejong@iastate.edu
712-546-7835

The Annual Field Day of the Northwest Iowa Research and Demonstration Farm will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 10, at the farm near Calumet in southern O’Brien County. Coffee and cookies will be available at 9:00. All are invited to attend.

The agenda for the field day will feature four stops around the farm.

  1. Dr. Erin Hodgson, ISU Extension Entomologist, will discuss what is being learned about the new soybean gall midge pest that emerged on the farm and around Northwest Iowa last summer.
  2. “Corn Diseases and Fungicide Research at the Northwest Farm” is the topic that Extension Plant Pathologist Alison Robertson will lead.
  3. This field day will also be the first chance for Northwest Iowa residents to meet Dr. Prashant Jha, the new ISU Extension Weed Specialist, discussing “Herbicide Technologies and Resistant Weed Management Strategies for NW Iowa.” Dr. Jha received his Ph.D. from Clemson and comes to ISU after several years as Extension Weed Specialist at Montana State University.
  4. The fourth stop will feature Paul Kassel and Joel DeJong discussing timely agronomic issues occurring during the 2019 growing season.

A free noon lunch is available, courtesy of Security State Bank, Ag Partners and FifthGen Ag. Dr. John Lawrence, Vice President for Extension and Outreach at ISU will be there to visit with attendees and make a few comments over the noon hour.

About the Research Farm: In 1954, this new association, funded by Northwest Iowa (NW IA) farmers and businesses buying memberships, purchased two tracts of land to begin research cooperatively with ISU, 37 acres in Lyon County and 75 acres in O’Brien County. In 1989 and 1990, the organization purchased an additional 60 acres in Lyon County and 152 acres in O’Brien County, and sold the original tracts. The cooperation between local association members and researchers from ISU has led to the development of crop production knowledge used by farmers in NW IA and around the state, such as recommendations for soil fertility, weed management, date of planting and population, and lots more. Today, many replicated plot trials (about 35 per year) still occur at the farm near Calumet. The Doon Farm is used for replicated, field length, on-farm trials. The Calumet farm also hosted nearly 1500 visitors (approximately 10 field days and other events) in 2018. To view the farm’s annual reports, visit https://www.farms.ag.iastate.edu/ and click on the “farms and research reports” tab on the left-hand side.

The NW Research Farm Association has a board consisting of two members from each of the 10 counties represented. These members have given great insight into the research needs for the future success of agriculture in NW IA. Water quality concerns continue to grow. At least 15 years ago, this board recognized and worked with ISU to implement two major projects looking at these issues. Now, the board and farm staff are developing a project to install a bioreactor to reduce nitrates in tile water leaving the farm. The Research Farm has been a great partnership for NW IA farmers, and for ISU. If you have never visited the farm to see what they do, attend a field day, just stop in and say hello, or drive around the farm and see the projects in place this year.

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Coping with Forage Shortfalls

Beth Ellen Doran, Beef Program Specialist
doranb@iastate.edu
712-737-4230

Weather conditions last fall and this spring have created forage shortfalls for beef producers, but there are some forages and strategies to bridge the gap. If you plan to alter your grazing, haying or silage options, check with your crop insurance agent before implementing your alternative plans.

We are now at early July with a shorter growing season. Sorghums and millets are usually planted once soil temperatures are 65°F and increasing, up to early July, and used during the summer and autumn. They will be ready for first harvest or grazing about 50 days after emergence. If planted July 1, sorghum and millet will be mature about mid-August (see table).

Crop

Planting

Date

Seeding

Rate (lb/A)

Maturity Date

Yield

(DM T/A)

% Crude

Protein

RFV1

Hybrid Pearl Millet

July 1

20-30

Mid-Aug

3-5

12-14

90-100

Sudangrass

July 1

20-25

Mid-Aug

2-3

11-13

90-100

Foxtail Millet

July 1

20-25

Mid-Aug

2-3

11-13

90-100

Sorghum x Sudangrass Hybrid

July 1

20-30

Mid-Aug

3-5

12-14

90-100

Forage Sorghum

July 1

15-20

Mid-Sept

2-4

10-11

90-100

1 RVF = Relative Feed Value. 100 is approximately the digestibility and feed energy value of full bloom alfalfa.

Each forage species has unique characteristics, such as growing season, size, regrowth potential, feed value, presence or absences of anti-quality components, yield, and suitability for haying, grazing and silage. A fact sheet of short-term and supplemental forages may be downloaded at http://www.iowabeefcenter.org/CowsPlows/SupplementalForages.pdf.

Pearl millet and Sudangrass are best suited for grazing due to their rapid rate of regrowth. Do not cut or graze shorter than a 5 to 6-inch stubble height to encourage good regrowth. For an emergency hay crop, foxtail millet would be the forage of choice due to rapid dry-down, but plan for only one hay harvest. If harvesting silage, forage sorghum and corn are best based on yield and feed quality.

The species of choice for fall grazing cover crops is highly dependent on how early they can be planted. For fall grazing, most cover crop species such as cool-season annual grasses, cereals and brassicas yield more forage when planted mid-summer. If planted after early September, cereal rye and triticale (a cross of wheat and rye) are better suited for the shorter growing season. Cereal rye will overwinter and is one of the earliest cover crops to appear in the spring. Because of this, it is often used for early spring grazing and a clean, green area for cow-calf pairs after calving.

Special Note– Producers can hay, graze or cut cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage on prevented plant acres on or after September 1 and still maintain eligibility for their full 2019 prevented planting indemnity. Please discuss this with your crop insurance provider if you have any questions or concerns.

If none of these options are workable for your operation, consider a supplementation strategy, such as feeding whole shelled corn to grazing animals or green-chopping corn. If supplementing with whole shelled corn, provide adequate bunk space and work animals up slowly on the corn. If green-chopping corn, chop only what can be fed daily. Never feed green chop that has heated in the wagon, bunk or stack, or that has been held overnight.

Upcoming Beef Programs:

  • SDSU Extension Forage Field Day(Focusing on Producing and Storing High Quality Forages) August 7, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. - SDSU Southeast Research Farm (29974 University Road, Beresford, S.D.) Early registration is $30/person until August 4 and $35/person after August 4. For more information or to register: https://extension.sdstate.edu/event/forage-field-day-beresford
  • Beef Quality Assurance Certification/Re-Certification Workshop, August 6, 10:00 a.m. – Noon - Frontier Bank (Rock Rapids, IA). To register (no cost), please call ISU Extension and Outreach Lyon County at 712-472-2576.

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Summer Decision-Making

Gary Wright, Farm and Agribusiness Management Specialist
gdwright@iastate.edu
712-223-2574

Generally speaking, since Memorial Day, Northwest Iowa has seen better conditions to finish the 2019 planting season. About 235 folks attended the Delay/Prevent Planting meetings held in Buena Vista, Dickinson and Lyon counties in hopes of learning the most critical information concerning planting decisions. My thanks to agronomy colleagues Joel [DeJong] and Paul [Kassel], as well as presenters from both USDA/FSA and nearby crop insurance technical experts. By the time this is read, those 2019 plant decisions should be behind us. In case you are still evaluating options, remember the critical step of contacting and communicating with your own crop insurance agent. Additionally, Ag Decision Maker (https://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/) may help. As always, if you have questions or if you want help with the Ag Decision Maker technology, please do not hesitate to call me.

As I write this in mid-June, we are about 50 days away from our annual Land Leasing/Value meetings. ISU Extension and Outreach has announced recent survey data for four key ag components: (a) land valuations; (b) cost of production; (c) custom farming rates; and (d) lease rate guidelines. Again, this year, the importance of these ag decisions makes it even more important for a meeting reasonably close to you. I encourage you to contact your local county office and register to attend. The meeting/course outline and materials provided will be similar at all Northwest Iowa meetings.

Here is a quick summary:

  1. Land Value Survey– This was initiated in 1941 (the first in the nation), is conducted by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) and is sponsored annually by Iowa State University. Survey respondents (793) showed a $62 per acre decline (0.8 percent) across Iowa, representing a decline four of the last five years.
  2. Estimated Costs of Crop Production– Narrow operating margins make a keen understanding of costs important. Furthermore, 2019 crop marketing strategies are paramount to achieve the break-even. Individual enterprise cost analysis, including fertility, weed management and farmland lease costs, is the best approach when comparing to present price outlooks.
  3. Custom Farming– This is a choice among some Iowa producers. The survey responses (121 respondents; 3716 data pieces) offer some guidelines with an average, a median, and a range (excludes maximum- minimum) comparing the machinery and equipment rental rate to individual producer costs is the important step for best capital asset decision-making.
  4. Cash Lease Rate– Decade marker, 2020 decisions will be fast upon us. It is important to remember State of Iowa statutes require any lease termination on/before September 1 in writing, whether the tenant or the landowner. The 2019 crop year surveys (1262 responses; familiarity with 1.6 million acres) reported a 1.4 percent decline ($3/acre) statewide to average lease rates. Similar to farmland valuations, this marked the 4th year of the last 5, where rent rates have declined for typical corn and soybean farmland.

The above bullets offer only a glimpse of the full research/reports that can be found on Ag Decision Maker or the CARD website (https://www.card.iastate.edu/). Please contact me (gdwright@iastate.edu or 712-223-1574) with any questions or feedback about the information contained in this article.

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Tips for Preventing Water Problems in Homes and Buildings

Kris Kohl, Ag Engineering Specialist
kkohl1@iastate.edu 
712-737-5056

Iowa’s High Point sits at 1,670 feet above sea level north of Sibley on Highway 60, and the Sterler farmhouse there gets a wet basement. Wet basements and high water tables are nothing new to most Iowans, but there are things that everyone can do to minimize water in basements and around livestock buildings.

Iowa has the best soil in the world and it has a high infiltration rate that soaks right in at over 2 inches per hour in many cases, especially when grass is growing. The drainable soil pores often are only 5 percent of the soil volume, meaning that 1 inch of excess rainfall will raise the water table by 2 feet when the conditions are near saturated.

Homeowners and farmers can fix most water issues by following these simple tips.

First, make sure that the soil slopes away from the foundation. Soil settles, and erosion can leave a pool next to the foundation inviting extra water down to the basement. Make sure that there is at least a 6-inch fallaway from the foundation in the first six feet to prevent this problem.

Second, the gutter system of the house must deliver the water away from the house at least six feet and have a sloping path away from the buildings.

Third, plan for wet years. While most of Northwest Iowa has an average rainfall of 25 to 30 inches a year, twice the normal rainfall occurred in 2018 and 1993.  Rainfall for May 2019 was two times the normal 5 inches in most locations.

Perimeter tile should be part of any new construction with an outlet to a field tile or a sump hole that can handle the wet years. The outlet from a sump pump should go into the storm drains or surface ditches where it has a path to the drainage ditch, creek, or river.  Pumping next to the house will just let it come right back in.

Keeping water out of our homes and livestock buildings protect us from costly damage in wet years.

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