The warmer and drier than normal May has been a benefit in that it allowed farms to get their corn in quickly and for most, to harvest some of the highest quality haylage we have seen in some time. A second benefit of the warm and drier conditions is that it maximizes the release and availability of soil & sod nitrogen, and manure nitrogen for the crop, while minimizing losses so far from excess rainfall. Unfortunately some areas have already moved into the excess rainfall scenario.
The weather of May has been perfect for producing forages of very high digestibility. The sunny days produce lots of highly digestible sugar and starch with very cold nights limiting the respiration losses of that energy. The table at right can be used to determine where your forages are for harvest. If you are still planting corn, STOP. Your losses in haylage quality (and the increased cost of grain to maintain production) are greater than the small yield loss in corn.
In the last issue we discussed the use of aeration tillage for rapid establishment of new legume seedings. It is also used to prepare the soil for conventional drilling small grains. Where interest has really taken off is its use to capture more of the nitrogen in the manure without subsequent soil erosion while simultaneously dramatically reducing the smell effect that has neighbors up in arms.
Aerators were originally designed for improving the air/soil interface of lawns and golf courses. In other countries they developed heavier units to aerate pastures that were compacted from grazing. They have had sporadic use here in the Northeast. There are two basic similar designs with differences in how the blade is designed and enters the soil. Most units have replaced the solid iron holding the shaft (picture at
right) with a heavy “C” shaped spring, to cushion the impacts with rocks.