Pasture and forage |

Pasture and forage

By Jerry Volesky and Megan Taylor
Nebraska Extension

Fall rain and snow are good for wheat and next year’s crops, but it does have its drawbacks. One challenge is its impact on corn stalk feed quality.

While this fall has been quite dry, there has and will continue to be areas that receive some rain or snow events. Rain reduces corn stalk quality several ways. Most easily noticed is how fast stalks can get soiled or trampled into the ground if the fields become muddy.

Less noticeable are nutritional changes. Rain or melting snow soaks into dry corn stalk residue and leaches out some of the soluble nutrients. Most serious is the loss of sugars and other energy-dense nutrients, which lowers the TDN or energy value of the stalks. These same nutrients also disappear if stalks begin to mold or rot in the field or especially in the bale. Then palatability and intake also decline.

Another factor that affects cornstalk grazing is wind. Throughout the fall, there always seems to be those days where excessively high winds will easily blow corn leaves and husks off the field. This of course, can impact the amount of feed, and after grain, those leaves and husks contain the highest nutritional quality.

There is little you can do to prevent these losses. What you can do, though, is to closely monitor cow and field conditions while adjusting your supplementation program accordingly. Since weathering by rain reduces TDN more than it reduces protein, consider the energy value of your supplements as well as its protein content.

Weathered corn stalks still are economical feeds. Just supplement them accordingly.


So you pulled some soil cores and now you have the results in your hand, now what? On your soil test results you will want to check out pH, potassium, phosphorus and sulfur. Today we will focus on phosphorus recommendations, specifically for the Olson test results.

Phosphorus has three tests that can be completed to test soil P levels: Bray-1, Olson, and Mehlich-3 are the most widely used. These are measured in parts per million (ppm) and recommendations are dependent on dryland and irrigated fields. Values will differ between Bray-1/Mehlich-3 and Olson test results, so carefully look at your soil test before making fertilizer purchases. If your soil tests are greater than 14 for Olson, you do not need to add any phosphorus for irrigated or dryland acres.

• 0-3 apply 60 lbs. P2O5/acre for irrigated or 40 lbs. P2O5/acre dryland.

• 4-7 apply 40 lbs. P2O5/acre for irrigated or 30 lbs. P2O5/acre for dryland.

• 8-14 apply 30 lbs. P2O5/acre for irrigated or 20 lbs. P2O5/acre for dryland.

These values can be found online on the CropWatch website under the alfalfa section and include the values for Bray-1 and Mehlich-3. Also depending on your fertilization schedule, you can plan to apply phosphorus in two year increments for dryland fields; take the single year recommendations and double to calculate the two year needs.

Remember if you are still wanting to pull soil cores sample at 8 inches or historic depth, collect samples by grid, soil type or representative area (40 acres or less). Then pull 10 to 15 random soil cores and combine in a plastic bucket to represent one soil sample. Take about a pint of soil and submit to an accredited lab.


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