|No Till Notes: Forages II|
■ Editor’s note: This article is one in a series about the concept and use of no tillage farming methods.
By Mark Watson
Panhandle No Till Educator
Producers often get locked in to grain production and don’t really look at the farm land as a resource with many possibilities.
Many produce winter wheat on dry land acres in a wheat/summer fallow rotation and have been in this rotation for decades.
Many producers also have cattle in their operation and often struggle with drought conditions and lack of forage.
Pastures are often lacking in enough forage production to sustain the herd consistently.
By looking at the land resource from a different perspective, forages offer the opportunity to better utilize this resource and increase profitability in one’s operations.
With the introduction of forages planted into the dry land acres, there are many advantages one may not have thought of.
By increasing the amount of forage produced in the operation, there is the opportunity to rest the pastures and allow them to recover. The introduction of forages on dry land acres may also offer the opportunity to increase the size of the herd.
Another benefit of introducing forages into the operation is the opportunity to better utilize the land resource, the moisture received, and improve the quality of the soil.
Forage can also break up the persistent weed patterns which cause problems in the winter wheat/summer fallow rotation.
Grain producers who utilize continuous crop no till may find these forage crops provide a transition crop to get back to winter wheat.
With the exception of field peas, most grain crops use moisture late into the growing season.
The problem with crops such as proso millet comes in a short or non-existent fallow period to transition to winter wheat. This often leaves the winter wheat crop at a disadvantage.
Forage crops would allow a longer fallow period to store moisture to transition to the following wheat crop.