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Volume 11, Number 4 - April 2005

This Month in Ag Connection

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Haylage Made by Local Producer is Viable Alternative to Stored Hay


An innovative forage preservation method, the New Zealand system, has been used by Pete Diehls in Howard County for five years. Last summer, he put up haylage when most people had their hay machinery setting in the machine shed.

Diehls uses the New Zealand System to cut and blow the forage into a holding wagon, which he unloads into piles in the field and covers with plastic. He seals the bottom of the plastic with dirt or waste limestone and creates an anaerobic (without oxygen) environment with a vacuum pump. He stores the haylage until he is ready to feed it in December.

He reuses the plastic from the haylage piles to cover large round hay bales the following year. This helps maintain hay quality until he starts feeding it in February. According to Dr. Rob Kallenbach, State Forage Extension Specialist with the University of Missouri, the loss of feeding value in the weathered portion of hay can approach 25 percent. Therefore, reusing the plastic helps him two-fold: it saves money on hay storage and helps maintain hay quality.

Diehls started feeding haylage in December and finished feeding it in mid-February. A representative sample of his haylage contained, on a dry matter basis, 12.7 percent crude protein, 58.1 percent TDN (total digestible nutrients) and had a RFV (relative feed value) of 89. his puts the haylage in the "maintenance for beef or dry dairy cows" category, perfect for the cattle Diehls was feeding. Diehls commented that he wished he had harvested his haylage earlier because the forage was a little too mature. However, this is some of the better-stored forage (besides corn silage) analyzed this winter. Last summer's wet weather was great for the grass but bad for harvesting hay.

Haylage is another viable way for livestock producers to harvest stored forage for the winter months. The main disadvantage is plant loss in areas where the haylage was stored. In really wet years, when good hay is almost impossible to bale, making haylage could be a way for producers to have a high-quality feed supply for the winter. Diehls argues that the pros far outweigh the cons and his beef cows would agree too.

(Author: Wendy Flatt, Livestock Specialist)

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Phosphorus (P) Fertilization Improves the Quality of Stockpiled Tall Fescue

The major expense in beef cattle production is involved with the harvesting, storing and feeding hay. It is often recommended that cattle producers save pastures for winter grazing (stockpiling) in order to reduce these expenses.

Previous studies have indicated that stockpiled tall fescue contained low P and magnesium (Mg concentrations in winter. In fact, by late winter and early spring, levels of these two nutrients were often below levels recommended for lactating beef cows. This poses a nutritional problem for beef herds that calve in late winter and early spring.

Studies in Southwest Missouri have shown that P fertilization of a low P soil increased both P and Mg concentrations of tall fescue leaf tissue in early spring, as well as greatly increasing total forage production. This work was conducted to try to increase the Mg concentrations of tall fescue leaves in order to combat grass tetany in beef cattle. Our new studies on the quality of stockpiled tall fescue included P treatments in the hope of improving the nutritional quality of tall fescue during winter.

Leaf P in Stockpiled Tall Fescue: By January of the first year, P levels in leaves from all P treatments were below the 0.2% required by lactating beef cows, and these P levels remained below 0.2% through mid-April. Our working hypothesis is that leaves of this perennial grass translocated or move P from leaves down to roots and/or rhizomes during late fall and winter. This process is called nutrient remobilization, and would involve transport in phloem tissue from leaves to roots and/or rhizomes.

Leaf Mg in Stockpiled Tall Fescue: We have found that late winter P treatments increased tall fescue leaf Mg concentrations during March and April. Based on these studies, it likely that tall fescue growing on a low P soil has a problem with Mg uptake by roots and Mg transport from roots to leaves.

Leaf Mg concentration declined during late fall and winter, reaching the lowest levels in mid-March. This decline was very similar to the decline in leaf concentrations, except P levels were lowest in mid-February. A sharp decline in Mg concentration also occurred during the second year, but with the 25 lbs P/acre treatments, leaf Mg concentrations remained about 0.20%, the minimum level required for diets of lactating beef cows. Again, our hypothesis is that this mobile divalent cation, Mg, is re-translocated during late fall and winter months from leaves to roots and/or rhizomes. Magnesium concentrations in leaves of untreated tall fescue dropped below the 0.20% target in January, February and March of both years.

Leaf K and Ca in Stockpiled Tall Fescue: Leaf K concentrations declined each fall and winter, and increased slightly with increased P treatments. The K levels of leaves from all treatments exceeded the nutrient requirements for lactating beef cows.

Hay Production: We reported in earlier publications that fertilization with 25 lbs P/acre at this location increased tall fescue hay production by over 1500 lbs/year. This yield increase is equivalent to about two big round bales of hay, and at $25 per bale, this would equal $50 of increased hay production as a result of P fertilization. Fertilizer for 25 lbs P/acre would cost around $10.00, therefore the net (minus application cost) return on the investment would be around $40.00/acre. For a forage production system, it is not uncommon to harvest four tons of tall fescue per year, either by grazing or by hay harvests, and based on our results, this would remove about 16 lbs P/acre/yr.

Conclusions: The physiological nature of the tall fescue may have an impact on the quality of stockpiled tall fescue during the winter months. Leaf P, Mg and K concentrations declined during late fall and winter, and research is underway to determine if these mobile elements are re-translocated from leaves to roots and/rhizomes as winter approaches.

By late winter, both P and Mg levels dropped below those required for lactating beef cows, unless plots were treated with 25 lbs P/acre. This P application rate boosted hay production by the equivalent of two big round bales or by about $50 worth at a cost of $10.00 for the P. Based on this study and other studies we have completed on P fertilization of tall fescue, beef cattle production in Missouri could be economically increased with more attention to soil P status of pastures.

(Author: Dale G. Blevins, Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri)

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Foliar Fungicides on Soybean

Soybean Rust has stimulated interest in foliar application of fungicides as a management tool for soybean production. Yield losses from soybean foliar diseases can range from 2 to 20 percent. Though resistance to all or most soybean diseases is not available with current soybean varieties, many diseases can be avoided or controlled by rotating crops. Fungicide seed treatments help control seed and seedling diseases. Foliar diseases can be controlled or managed with foliar fungicides. The question is to what degree, and will the application provide an economic return?

Test results from Mississippi State University indicate an average 13.0 bushel per acre increase with Quadris applied at the R3 and R6 growth stage for soybeans. There is greater foliar disease pressure in the southern portion of the soybean growing area due to a longer growing season and the growing conditions present. They also observed that a more consistent response had been observed on applications made at the R3 stage. Under their growing conditions, a fungicide/insecticide or a combination will be required to produce high yielding soybeans.

Results from a one year study (2004) at The Ohio State University, where foliar disease pressure is lighter due to environmental conditions, indicate a yield increase approximately 3 bushels per acre on fields treated with Quadris and Warrior. Where the fungicide was used, it was noted that the plants had green stems and leaves longer than the untreated check plots. The cost of the fungicide alone was $15.28 per acre. A study in Minnesota produced in similar results at a cost of about $20.00 per acre. These results indicate a range of disease pressures and treatment responses.

Central and north Missouri farmers report 0 to 15 bushel yield increases from foliar applications of fungicides, but most of these have been individual results and not from trials or side-by-side comparisons. In some years when conditions are favorable, foliar applications may pay even in the absence of soybean rust. There is a point system to assist growers in deciding whether or not to apply foliar fungicides. A description of the system taken from MU Guide G4452 "Soybean Disease Management" ( is described below.

Foliar fungicides are not recommended for use when potential yield is less than 25 bushels per acre. About 7 days after bloom begins, answer the following questions and add the points corresponding to your answers.

Variety Maturity Group
Late Maturity Group (MG) = 1
Medium MG = 3
Early MG = 5

Planting Date
Late = 1
Optimum = 2
Early = 3

Field History
Disease not present last year = 0
Disease present last year = 2

Crop Will Be Kept For Seed
No = 0
Yes = 4

Cropping History
Other crops previous year = 0
Soybeans previous year = 2
Soybeans previous two years = 3

Disease Symptoms Present At Bloom
No = 2
Yes = 3

Flood irrigation after first bloom = 2
One day of wetness after first bloom = 3
Three days of wetness after first bloom = 5

If the total is 16 or 17 points, a fungicide may or may not be profitable. If the total is 15 or less, a fungicide will probably not be recommended. These recommendations are in the absence of soybean rust.

Some of the foliar diseases that can be managed by foliar applications of fungicide are Septoria Brown Spot, Downy Mildew, Anthracnose, Pod and Stem Blight, and Frogeye.

(Author: Wayne Crook, Agronomy Specialist)

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Bottom Line Tidbits: Domestic Production Deduction

The Job Creation Tax Act passed late last year was filled with tax "presents". One present was titled "Manufacturing Production Deduction" and was marked don't open until 2005. This present did not gain much attention from the agriculture production community because we typically don't consider ourselves manufacturers. Upon further reading and analysis, the act provides a tax deduction for businesses involved in domestic production - and farmers are certainly domestic producers.

The "domestic production deduction" is to be phased in and can provide a deduction ranging from 3 to 9 percent of the lesser of net income from qualified production activities or adjusted gross income. The deduction starts at 3 percent in 2005, and gradually increases to 9 percent in 2010.

Now is the time to consult with your tax advisor to ensure your business is able to meet the requirements of this new deduction. For example, one hurdle that will trip-up some farmers is that the deduction is limited to no more than 50 percent of the W-2 wages paid to members of the family during the year.

Many farmers have resisted paying wages to family members for work they perform on the farm in order to avoid labor tax filing requirements; 2005 will be a year to reconsider. These wage payments might help your spouse qualify for disability insurance protection. Additionally, wages paid to your children under the age of 18 are exempt from Social Security taxes.

This deduction will be available to sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, and other pass-through type entities. However, farm landlords, unless they are "materially participating," may not qualify for this deduction. The IRS has several definitions of what constitutes a trade or business - depending on the tax provisions involved. The IRS has not identified which definition of trade or business it will utilize for the domestic production deduction.

Again, this is a new deduction and you need to be working with your tax advisor now to ensure your business qualifies for this deduction for the 2005 tax year.

(Author: Parman R. Green, Ag Business Specialist)

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Century Farms Search Continues

Centure Farm Logo

The search is on again for Missouri farms that have been in the same family 100 years or more. These farms will be recognized in the Missouri Century Farm program.

To qualify as a Missouri Century Farm, a farm must:

Application forms and information are available through Extension Publications, 2800 Maguire Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65211, through your local Extension office or on the web at:

A $25 fee covers the cost of a certificate, booklet and farm sign for approved applicants. Checks should be made payable to "University of Missouri Century Farms" and should accompany a completed application. Applications must be postmarked by June 15, 2005. Additional signs, certificates and Century Farm booklets can be obtained by paying an extra fee. Past Century Farms can obtain replacement signs by paying $15.00 to cover the sign, postage and packaging.

For further information, call your local Extension office or the University of Missouri Century Farms office at 1-800-292-0969.

(Author: Jim Jarman, Agronomy Specialist)

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Publishing Information

Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University of Missouri Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Managing Editor: Kent Shannon.