Forage Fertilization

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Slide1: 

Forage Fertility New Mexico Crop Production Assoc. Ruidoso, NM January 24, 2006 Mike Stewart Potash & Phosphate Institute www.ppi-ppic.org

All cattle for New Mexico and Texas, 1995-2005: 

All cattle for New Mexico and Texas, 1995-2005

Cattle on feed for New Mexico and Texas, 1995-2005: 

Cattle on feed for New Mexico and Texas, 1995-2005

Milk cow numbers for New Mexico and Texas, 1995-2004: 

Milk cow numbers for New Mexico and Texas, 1995-2004 NM is the fastest growing milk production state in the U.S.

Benefits of forage fertilization: 

Benefits of forage fertilization Greater water use efficiency More resistance to disease and insects Improved winterhardiness and drought tolerance Greater efficiency of other inputs Increased yield Improved quality Higher profit potential

Animal production… a function of forage quantity and quality: 

Animal production… a function of forage quantity and quality Therefore Animal/A x product/animal= product/A Forage yield (quantity) expressed in animals/A Forage quality expressed in product/animal Product= beef, milk, wool, etc. Source: Sollenberger and Cherney. Forages Volume II. p. 98

“Forage quality is the extent to which a forage, whether pasture, hay or silage, has the ability to produce the desired animal response.” Garry Lacefield, U. of Kentucky Progressive Farmer, March 1999 : 

“Forage quality is the extent to which a forage, whether pasture, hay or silage, has the ability to produce the desired animal response.” Garry Lacefield, U. of Kentucky Progressive Farmer, March 1999 Forage quality… best defined in terms of animal performance

Several factors affect forage quality: 

Several factors affect forage quality Plant species Stage of maturity Fertility Climate

Forage species affects quality: 

Forage species affects quality Pratt

Law of the minimum (1862) Justus von Leibing Crop yield will be determined by the most limiting nutrient in a system. Or, in other words, an excess of one nutrient cannot overcome the deficiency of another.: 

Law of the minimum (1862) Justus von Leibing Crop yield will be determined by the most limiting nutrient in a system. Or, in other words, an excess of one nutrient cannot overcome the deficiency of another.

Some cool season forage crop examples: 

Some cool season forage crop examples Balanced fertility…. nutrient interactions affect forage productivity

Wheat forage yield response to N and P fertilization: 

Wheat forage yield response to N and P fertilization lb P2O5/A Sanders et al. 1991. Better Crops Magazine. Vol 75. No 3. irrigated wheat Texas Panhandle

Wheat forage and N fertilization… forage to beef conversion: 

Wheat forage and N fertilization… forage to beef conversion Each ton of wheat forage requires about 60 lb total N Therefore, 30 lb of N will produce about 1000 lb forage Assuming a general conversion of 10 lb forage to produce 1 lb beef, wheat pasture requires about 30 lb N/A for each 100 lb beef produced From personal communication, E. Funderburg The Noble Foundation

Sulfur fertilizer affects cool season forage S content: 

Sulfur fertilizer affects cool season forage S content lb S/A

Nitrogen and S fertilizer affect cool season forage protein: 

Nitrogen and S fertilizer affect cool season forage protein lb S/A

Value of protein increase in forage due to S fertilizer (based on cotton seed meal): 

Value of protein increase in forage due to S fertilizer (based on cotton seed meal) A nutrient input can have value far beyond what we might at first expect

Alfalfa: 

Alfalfa

Slide18: 

Follet and Wilkinson, 1995

Alfalfa Nutrient Uptake and Removal: 

Alfalfa Nutrient Uptake and Removal Alfalfa has higher demand for nutrients than most crops Nutrient Amount removed, lb/ton P2O5 15 K2O 60 Ca 30 Mg 6 S 6 N (through fixation) 60

Slide20: 

Alfalfa Root Development Most lateral roots are near the soil surface for the first year, but more deep lateral roots develop as the plant ages. Alfalfa has lower root density than many grasses and a deeper rooting zone. P and K application increase root growth, enabling roots to obtain moisture and nutrients from greater volume of soil.

Slide21: 

P Fertilization Increases Nodulation Azcon et al., 1988 Soil P, ppm

P Response: Timing & Application Study: 

P Response: Timing & Application Study Mullen et al., 2000; OK Six-year study initiated to evaluate effect of P timing and application method Broadcast or banded P fertilizer Frequency: 100 lb P2O5/A every year 200 lb P2O5/A every 2 years 600 lb P2O5/A in a one-time preplant application Total 6-year P rate was the same for all treatments: variables were timing and placement

Yield Response to P in Years One and Six: 

Yield Response to P in Years One and Six P application, lb P2O5/A and frequency Mullen et al., 2000; OK

Yield Response: Method and Timing: 

Yield Response: Method and Timing P Application, lb P2O5/A and frequency Cumulative Yield Response Mullen et al., 2000; OK

K fertility is important in alfalfa production: 

K fertility is important in alfalfa production Adequate K improves: Plant persistence Number of shoots per plant Shoot yield Deficient K reduces root starch storage Reduces protein concentration in root Results in poor survival and slow shoot growth

In K-deficient alfalfa, small white or yellowish spots first appear around the outer edges of older leaves : 

In K-deficient alfalfa, small white or yellowish spots first appear around the outer edges of older leaves

Diagnosis of Nutrient Deficiencies: 

Diagnosis of Nutrient Deficiencies Visual Observation Soil Testing Tissue Analysis

Silage: 

Silage

Silage: Advantages and Disadvantages: 

Silage: Advantages and Disadvantages Advantages Reduced field and harvest losses compared with hay Many crops can be used Less chance of weather damage during harvest Long-term storage Flexibility in feeding programs Mechanization of storage, harvesting, and feeding Disadvantages Bulky to handle and store Equipment and storage structure needs Losses if not stored properly Not readily marketable off-farm Must be fed soon after removal from silo to avoid spoilage

Harvest and storage losses with legume-grass forages: 

Harvest and storage losses with legume-grass forages

N fertilization considerations: 

N fertilization considerations With some crops high levels N fertilizer can decrease the water soluble carbohydrate level Carbohydrates are required to make good quality silage Therefore, high levels of N fertilization can affect fermentation and silage quality, Especially true in cool season grasses since they are already low in carbohydrates Corn silage is not affected as much since corn is already high in available carbohydrates.

Consider nutrient removal in silage fertilization: 

Consider nutrient removal in silage fertilization

Summary: 

Summary Balanced and appropriate fertilization of hay, silage, and pasture increases forage yield, quality, and profit potential Inputs such as water, nutrients, and other factors are used more efficiently with adequate and balanced fertility Fertilize and utilize…if additional forage isn’t utilized, increased profit won’t be realized