Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, April 18, 1998, Image 212

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    Page 12—Foraging Around, Lancaster Fanning, Saturday, April 18,1998
(Continued from Pig, tt)
ety/species is well adapted, stands
can be lost or severely * reduced
allowing native plants to invade.
Intruders such as crabgrass, quack
grass, and many broadleaf weeds for
example, can suppress or even elim
inate desirable species.
With the advent of true grazing
tolerant alfalfa varieties, (the first of
which was Alfagraze), these prob
lems are greatly reduced and stands
do persist better than with conven
tional hay type varieties. Research
by Dr. Carl Hoveland of the
University of Georgia showed that
when pasturing grazing tolerant
alfalfa continuously through the
summer months, native grasses did
intrude; (for him, the grass was
bermudagrass). While the grazing
tolerant alfalfa did survive and
bounce back, he found, such man
agement reduced yields and allowed
unwanted weed invasion. He fur
ther found that by increasing fertili
ty levels with phosphate and potash
and allowing sufficient recovery
time to form a generous canopy, this
alfalfa again became the predomi
nant species. Conventional hay
types did not recover nearly as well.
He also observed that when continu
ous grazing is practiced, 7 to 8 inch
es of growth should be maintained
during the grazing season.
What about bloat? This is a ques
tions that is often asked by those
who are anxious to try alfalfa as a
grazing crop for the first time. Is
alfalfa a potential culprit? Yes it is
and so are many other legumes,
especially white clovers (including
ladina types). Farmers have found
ways to manage to keep the poten
tial problems in check. Here are
some of the best prevention meth
•Pre-fill hungry (emaciated) ani
mals with dry hay and/or bulk feed.
•Put animals onto alfalfa pas
tures for snort periods initially. The
time interval on the pasture can be
increased day to day as they adjust
to the forage.
•Always keep dry hay available
• |
ed t
during grazing.
•Watch and be prepared to move
animals on cool-wet days.
•Lush forage greatly increases
consumption thus increases bloat
•Grow alfalfa with compatible/
adapted grasses. Orchardgrass
seems best for this area.
•Feed bloat inhibitors.
Poloxolene used according to recom
mendations’ prior to and during
grazing reduces bloat.
Growing alfalfa specifically for
grazing is fairly new. For years,
farmers have grazed remnant alfal
fa fields just before termination (a
year or so before moving back to
crop rotation) and under drought
stricken conditions when yields did
not justify haying costs. Some have
even grazed hay-type alfalfa fields
following the same guidelines as for
hay and silage with mixed, usually
disappointing stand persistent
results. The advent of grazing toler
ant varieties has vitalized interest
in growing this crop for grazing.
Why and who are these folks?
•Dairymen who want to cut milk
production costs are using it more
each year.
•Beef stocker operators who want
quality feed and higher summer
gains find they can produce over 2
pounds of day gain compared to
about 1 pound from grass and 1.5-
1.8 from grass and clovers. With
other legumes, persistence and yield
are problems.
•Beef cow-calf producers who
want better conception rates, higher
calf weaning weights and better car
tying capacity with summer produc
tion reliability are at last realizing
these benefits.
•Sheep producers who want a
reliable source of high quality forage
for finishing lambs have at last
found an answer.
•This legume, when grown in
pastures, increases meat and milk
Since so many leading farmers
have moved to grazing, we expect to
see a decided growth in the acreage
of alfalfa for grazing. There is no
reason to think otherwise. Farming
has continuous need for more effi
ciency and net income and grazing
alfalfa is a surefire way to accom
plish that from farming. The seed to
plant this program is already avail
able and will get better through the
years. New genetic breakthroughs
are in the works, some available
even now. Don't be at all surprised
to see the highest yielding varieties
in official trials, called multipurpose
varieties, that are more persistent,
and suitable for both grazing and
mechanical harvest as hay and
Seeding Alfalfa No-Till
Farmers are constantly looking
for a less-expensive, easier, more
reliable way to establish alfalfa.
With the release of successful graz
ing tolerant alfalfa, more farmers
are adding alfalfa to their pastures
and looking for ways to do this with
minimum costs and less chance of
water erosion damage. No-till does
not mean no-nothing. It simply
means as was stated in the original
Pasture Renovation Program out
lined and defined by the American
Society of Agronomy as "The
improvement of a pasture by partial
destruction of the sod, plus liming,
fertilizing, and seeding as may be
required to establish or re-establish
desirable forage plants without an
intervening crop." from the mid
1950 s until the present, the keys to
successful pasture improvement
through minimum or no-till are the
same. The only change is substitut
ing chemicals for mechanical tillage
and the development and distribu
tion of no-till drills that properly
place seed in the soil for best emer
gence and survival.
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Three years ago, Dr. Harlan
White, emeritus professor and for
mer forage specialist at VPPI
(Virginia) an I decided it was time
we put together a no-till publication
on seeding alfalfa no-till for distrib
ution throughout America.
With our experience developing
the process and putting it into mas
sive use on farms in Virginia and
Kentucky, we doubted that anyone
could challenge our findings, writ
ings, ad reports. So we wrote it and
ABI Alfalfa published and distrib
uted it. The title is "No-Till Alfalfa:
Seeding For Success."
Seeding alfalfa no-till pastures on
your farm:
Establishing a strong stand can
be challenging especially in pas
tures that are steep and subject to
erosion and moisture stress.
Conventional tillage in these condi
tions is a serious threat to soil con
versation and stand establishment.
Procedures developed through
research and refined through large
scale farmer adoption have made
no-till seeding practical and widely
adopted in many areas of the United
Two key components helping no
till alfalfa succeed (as we have
already pointed out) are herbicides
and drills. The use ot short-dura
tion herbicides (Gramoxone and
Roundup) and development of
improved no-till seeding drills have
made this both practical and an eas
ier system of seeding.
Advantages of no-till over conven
tional seeding include;
•Lower costs
•Less time involved in seedbed
preparation and seeding
Series 700
Series 750
Series 770
•More soil saved (less erosion)
•Less labor
.(Turn to Pag* 14)