Drought Dichotomy

We often say water is the lifeblood of agriculture.  In a drought year like this, that truly is the case!  A case study showing the impacts of irrigated agriculture to Nebraska this year can be found here.

Interesting is the dichotomy we’re experiencing in south central Nebraska where irrigated fields that were truly fully irrigated may have some of the best yields producers have experienced while in so many areas of the State-even neighbors a few miles away-are experiencing the worst year they have ever faced.

Dryland yields have been all over the board mostly depending on tillage type.  Irrigated yields that were truly fully irrigated have been outstanding.  Hybrid Maize predictions for our area had been good all year for fully irrigated corn and it looks like they are even better than the long-term average predictions!

Yet, as I drive around the countryside I can’t help but wonder at how many corn stalks are already being disked under.  At a time when we’ve had several fires in our own State of Nebraska…when we have farmers and ranchers suffering trying to find forage for their livestock.  We are so blessed to have irrigation here and that buffers our producers from weather extremes.  But let’s not forget about the others who are hurting right now!  I would ask our producers with irrigated fields to please consider leasing your stalks for grazing or baling them this year to help those in need of forage.

Research from UNL shows that cattle and cornstalks go well together.

Some producers worry about compaction but in a dry year like this, compaction is essentially a non-issue-at least this fall.  UNL research from 1996-2011 showed the effects of fall and spring-grazing on subsequent corn and soybean yields.  On average,  yield of the following soybean crop was increased by about 2 bu/ac with fall-winter grazing, and 1.3 bu/ac with spring grazing, compared with no grazing of corn stalks.  Yield of corn as the second crop after grazing was not significantly affected resulting in an average of 1-3 bu/ac yield increase depending on fall or spring grazing. Check out this study and all our resources to help with drought decisions.

An upcoming Webinar called Cornstalk Grazing-Understanding the Values to Cattle Producers and Corn Farmers scheduled for  Oct. 2 from 12:30 to 1:10 p.m. will provide additional information.  If you are unable to view it, it will be recorded with all our Beef Webinars.

So while irrigation has provided life and good yields to many producers’ crops in the area, let’s not forget about our neighbors who are less fortunate.  Please consider leasing your corn stalks or baling them to help others in need of forage for their livestock!  You can connect with other producers by checking out the Hay and Forage Hotline at 800-422-6692.  This hotline lists hay and forage including cornstalks that is available via sale or donation.

Additional Resource:  How much to charge for cornstalk grazing?

About jenreesources

I'm the Crops and Water Extension Educator for York and Seward counties in Nebraska with a focus in irrigated crop production and plant pathology.

Posted on September 28, 2012, in Crop Updates, Drought, Livestock and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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