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Question on fertilizing hay meadows

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Big Muddy rancher

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Since you can irrigate what about looking at spreading some red clover in the mix. or some legume that works in your area. Red clover seems finer and more like Alfalfa then Yellow Blossom which I hate. Even some Alfalfa since you can water it in.
 

Faster horses

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Since you can irrigate what about looking at spreading some red clover in the mix. or some legume that works in your area. Red clover seems finer and more like Alfalfa then Yellow Blossom which I hate. Even some Alfalfa since you can water it in.
I asked about that and Red Clover seems to be the choice, but Mr FH is afraid it would be hard to cut it without it being dusty. We sell to horse people and he doesn't want any dust. Does he need to be concerned about that? I will call the seed store and see if they have red clover. Would you just broadcast it in, or we do have a old JD VanBrundt grain drill that he seeded some grass with and that worked out well. Could he use that?

No one on here thought alfalfa seed would take with so much competition from the grass.

I apologize to all for the dumb questions, that Mr. FH probably wouldn't ask, but he won't use a computer or phone so I am the messenger....or the questioner........but he appreciates all the input, as do I. Thanks all, for your patience.
 

webfoot

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Selling to horse people I would stick with straight grass. As to soil tests I used A&L Western Labs. I got a discount because of the number of samples but even without the discount it would be under $20 for a basic soil test. I shipped to Portland but they have offices all over. You can look them up on the internet. Ship early in the week no matter where you send it to. You don't want a sample to arrive late and sit on their door step over the weekend.
 

Faster horses

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Selling to horse people I would stick with straight grass. As to soil tests I used A&L Western Labs. I got a discount because of the number of samples but even without the discount it would be under $20 for a basic soil test. I shipped to Portland but they have offices all over. You can look them up on the internet. Ship early in the week no matter where you send it to. You don't want a sample to arrive late and sit on their door step over the weekend.
We send fecals and forage samples through the mail so I know to send early in the week, Monday preferably. Thanks for the heads up though. How many should we take and how deep should we go? Also, how long is the turn-around time? Appreciate your help!!
 

webfoot

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We send fecals and forage samples through the mail so I know to send early in the week, Monday preferably. Thanks for the heads up though. How many should we take and how deep should we go? Also, how long is the turn-around time? Appreciate your help!!
A sample of soil from 10-12 spots in the field. About a foot deep. Leave that top inch which will have the duff out of your sample. I would dig a small round hole and take a slice off the side. Put in a bucket, stir well and send about 2 cups of soil. There turn around was roughly a week. Sometimes less, rarely more. If you have them email the results it speeds it up by a couple days.
 

Mountain Cowgirl

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@Faster horses Please let us know the results. I am curious.

My father had his own lab and tested for all the ranches around our area. I took most of the samples for him. He had me dig 16" in moist soil with a post hole digger and then use a long-bladed sharp shooter shovel to take a thin slice off one side. I still have that shovel. This would carefully be flipped over into a wooden box and allowed to dry. He did a complete analysis comparing surface to 16" down.

Do what Webfoot advises, he knows his ag science.
 
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Evans

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If you have irrigation. Would it not pay you to rip up that old stand. I know its expensive but gosh,alfalfa and brome with maybe a few other grasses mixed in. The hutterites around here get three cuts a year from their irrigated land. Even if you only took one cut a year with new seed by the second year after it got established wouldn't you get 4 tons to the acre?
I think with irrigation it would sure eventually pay. Especially if you seeded heavy with alfalfa. I'm dryland and I still seed heavy with alfalfa. I love alfalfa! Free N,high protein, lots of tonnage in your hay.
 

Faster horses

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If you have irrigation. Would it not pay you to rip up that old stand. I know its expensive but gosh,alfalfa and brome with maybe a few other grasses mixed in. The hutterites around here get three cuts a year from their irrigated land. Even if you only took one cut a year with new seed by the second year after it got established wouldn't you get 4 tons to the acre?
I think with irrigation it would sure eventually pay. Especially if you seeded heavy with alfalfa. I'm dryland and I still seed heavy with alfalfa. I love alfalfa! Free N,high protein, lots of tonnage in your hay.
Straight alfalfa doesn't work for horse hay, IMO. We view straight alfalfa as a supplement to grass and other forage. We have customers who used to buy cake (protein cubes) for their cattle that have learned to feed 5-10# of alfalfa even every other day as a supplement in the fall when there is grass, but it doesn't have much feed value.It is much cheaper to feed alfalfa as a supplement, especially if you grow it yourself, as to buy cake.

I agree, alfalfa makes tonnage, but in this case we woudn't want straight alfalfa. We really like 1/4 to 1/3 alfalfa for horses, but maybe that's just us. We hate to farm this ground up, but I'm sure it will come to that eventually. We don't have the equipment for one thing.
 

Mountain Cowgirl

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Straight alfalfa doesn't work for horse hay, IMO. We view straight alfalfa as a supplement to grass and other forage. We have customers who used to buy cake (protein cubes) for their cattle that have learned to feed 5-10# of alfalfa even every other day as a supplement in the fall when there is grass, but it doesn't have much feed value.It is much cheaper to feed alfalfa as a supplement, especially if you grow it yourself, as to buy cake.

I agree, alfalfa makes tonnage, but in this case we woudn't want straight alfalfa. We really like 1/4 to 1/3 alfalfa for horses, but maybe that's just us. We hate to farm this ground up, but I'm sure it will come to that eventually. We don't have the equipment for one thing.
A trip over it with a spring tooth wouldn't really be farming in my opinion. I wouldn't consider you a farmer and visualize you in bib overalls wearing a beat-up straw hat while knawing on a big piece of straw and hear banjos and washboards unless you confessed and bragged of such.

If you have a 4 wheeler you can buy a toothed drag for less than $300 and that would work for your size field. Aeration does wonders. I was reading an article about @Nicky where she touted success with their meadows using aeration, overseeding and fertilizing. I know from the Colorado ranch where I grew up that had clay soil, our pastures, and hayfields got a good spring toothing every spring and sometimes in the fall. Ok, I promise to shut up about it now hahaha!
 

Big Muddy rancher

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You don't need to own the equipment. There is probably somebody that owns what you need and can be hired. Cheaper then owning the equipment yourself. My son sprayed out some hay last year and drilled in Oats and peas. Unless it's rough and needs working down you will be amazed at what some fertilizer will do if you have water to put on it.
 

Faster horses

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A trip over it with a spring tooth wouldn't really be farming in my opinion. I wouldn't consider you a farmer and visualize you in bib overalls wearing a beat-up straw hat while knawing on a big piece of straw and hear banjos and washboards unless you confessed and bragged of such.

If you have a 4 wheeler you can buy a toothed drag for less than $300 and that would work for your size field. Aeration does wonders. I was reading an article about @Nicky where she touted success with their meadows using aeration, overseeding and fertilizing. I know from the Colorado ranch where I grew up that had clay soil, our pastures, and hayfields got a good spring toothing every spring and sometimes in the fall. Ok, I promise to shut up about it now hahaha!
No need to shut up. It's good information and we've appreciated all of the input. Now to decide what to do. I'll keep you posted!!
 

webfoot

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Just fertilizing should increase your yields significantly. There are other things you can do but the question becomes will they increase yield enough to pay the cost of doing it. Or are you happy with what you are doing.
 

Faster horses

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Ok. Stopped in at the fertilizer place in town. (Farmers Co-op). Guy said they do soil testing in the fall, it's the best time.?????? I question that from what I've learned here. Ok.
So now he says 27-13-13 @200#/acre. $630/ton.

I am having a hard time believing him when first they said 37-12-0.

Remember, out of town co-op said 70-10-10 and that was $435 ton. Big difference. BIG DIFFERENCE.
I will call and ask them about soil testing.

I'm interested in finding out about a tooth drag. Mr. FH is used to BIG equipment, bigger than we need now, so I will find a photo and see if I can't get him interested in something more practical. 😅 He took some kidding when he pulled our harrow with his 125 HP JD front wheel assist tractor. 🤣 If he's happy, I'm happy.

Comments, please!
 

Mountain Cowgirl

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For now, I would just get the higher nitrogen and get it applied. Even if you apply it less than the recommended strength it should be worth it. Do the testing when you can, but get some nitrogen on it as soon as you can.
 

webfoot

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I can't imagine just how they produce a 70-10-10. How do they produce a product that is 90% the plant available nutrients. Urea which is generally the cheapest and highest % nitrogen. It is 46% nitrogen. Mix it with something else and that percentage goes down. 37-13-13 is a lot better than a 37-12-0 because it has K (the third number) which you need more than P (the second number). At 200 pounds per acre that is $63 per acre. How much do you get for your hay? How heavy do the bales run?
 

Faster horses

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I can't imagine just how they produce a 70-10-10. How do they produce a product that is 90% the plant available nutrients. Urea which is generally the cheapest and highest % nitrogen. It is 46% nitrogen. Mix it with something else and that percentage goes down. 37-13-13 is a lot better than a 37-12-0 because it has K (the third number) which you need more than P (the second number). At 200 pounds per acre that is $63 per acre. How much do you get for your hay? How heavy do the bales run?
I have no idea how they get 70-10-10.
Thinking we should not do anything til we get a soil sample this fall.

The guy at the co-op wrote down 27-13-13, not 37-13-13.
Earlier he said 37-12-0.
The 70-10-10 was from a town to the south.

Not sure any of these places know for sure what they are doing.

We get $150/ton for our hay. 75# bales because the ladies can't handle heavier bales. 😊
.
 

webfoot

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I asked how much you get and what the bales weigh to see if the fertilizer pencils.
At $63 per acre for fertilizer and selling hay at $150 a ton it looks like it takes an additional 840 pounds of hay per acre to pencil. That should be a no brainer. A good fertilizer program could pretty easily add a ton per acre.
 

webfoot

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I missed the fall testing mentioned. Fall testing is a real good idea. I probably did as much fall testing as spring testing, maybe more. But that is to give you an idea of what to do next year. It was also referred to as fall report card testing. How do things stand after the crop is removed for the year. But you are looking at what to do now. Rolling into a fall testign program in the future is not a bad idea, but for now I would test this spring.
 

Evans

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Straight alfalfa doesn't work for horse hay, IMO. We view straight alfalfa as a supplement to grass and other forage. We have customers who used to buy cake (protein cubes) for their cattle that have learned to feed 5-10# of alfalfa even every other day as a supplement in the fall when there is grass, but it doesn't have much feed value.It is much cheaper to feed alfalfa as a supplement, especially if you grow it yourself, as to buy cake
I agree, alfalfa makes tonnage, but in this case we woudn't want straight alfalfa. We really like 1/4 to 1/3 alfalfa for horses, but maybe that's just us. We hate to farm this ground up, but I'm sure it will come to that eventually. We don't have the equipment for one thing.
I havnt had troubles feeding my horses straight alfalfa. Same with cows and bloat. They just need to get gradually used to it. Horses tend to get high and broncy on straight alfalfa so some might not like that. I couldn't keep weight on a horse with out alfalfa or barley. I know your not sapposed to feed horses barley but if been doing it for years.
I'm just saying new seed makes a big difference and if you seeded it 50% alfalfa then there are no future nitrogen bills.
Having said that I'm not sure about going from an old grass stand directly to hay again. Where I'm at everybody would do a rotation. Example greenfeed for a few years before going back to hay.
But new seed in a new seed bed will really out perform a twenty year old stand.
Irrigated quarters with pivots sell for 2 million each in southern Alberta but they really produce with new seed,water and probably the best in fertilizer as well. I sure couldn't pay 2 million for a quarter and make it work selling cow feed but if I had some irrigation somewhere I would be looking at ways to make it produce better than dry land. Example an old dry stand that's 50% alfalfa/grass should produce 2 tons an acre without fertilizer.
Trouble with cow hay is in a wet year it might be $60 a ton and then in a dry year you might not be able to get it for $300. You just dont know.
How do you pump your water? Have you ever fingered out how much it costs you to irrigate? Up here they are gradually putting carbon taxes on everything.
 

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