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Herbicide Grazing Restrictions

Forage Feed Grazing Restrictionscattle in corn stalks

Replant Options Rotation Restrictions-long

Grateful for a nice week for harvesting and for the good yields being reported!  It’s also good to see cattle being turned into cornstalks.  A reminder to read herbicide labels to understand if there’s any grazing restrictions from corn and soybean herbicides applied in-season.

It’s also important to look for any grazing restrictions on fall-applied herbicides to control marestail and other germinating weeds.  These restrictions can also be found in the Forage Feed Grazing Restrictions in the UNL Guide for Weed Management.  The forage, feed, and grazing restriction only applies to the crop for which the herbicide was applied.  When it comes to grazing cover crops planted into these residues, one must use the replant/rotation restriction guidelines found on the herbicide label and in the UNL Weed Guide: Replant Options Rotation Restrictions-long.  I apologize as these scanned blurry; hopefully you can zoom in ok to read what you need.

If the label doesn’t specify any restrictions, then it should be ok. If you want to be on the safe side, a rule of thumb is to use the pre-harvest interval for the amount of time to wait before grazing stalks.  Some labels will say that residue should not be grazed or baled and fed to livestock.  Sometimes studies were actually conducted to know there is a safety concern.  In other cases, the chemical company may not choose to conduct all the studies the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required for labeling due to high costs.  If that’s the case, the EPA requires the strongest restrictive language be placed on the label. Regardless, if it says there’s a grazing restriction on the label, the label needs to be followed as it is a legal document and the law.

As you plan for next year’s herbicide program, if you’re thinking about fall cover crops, the following NebGuide may be of benefit to you as it goes through the grazing restrictions of various herbicides.

UNL Grazing Corn Residue Research

Many stalks in Nebraska are left ungrazed for various reasons.  One reason I’ve heard is the potential impact of increased compaction and reduced yield of the next crop.  Nebraska Extension has long-term research addressing this concern…in fact, 16 years of research conducted at the Ag Research and Development Center near Mead.  There’s various components to this study and you can view the full report at: http://go.unl.edu/8mp6.

In this study, cattle were allowed to graze corn residue in the spring (February to mid-April) or the fall (November through January) and these treatments were compared to an area not grazed.  Corn and soybeans were planted the spring after grazing the residue for 16 years to determine the effect of grazing on the subsequent crop yield.

In the fall grazing treatments, the corn and soybeans were planted no-till.  For corn or soybeans planted into the spring grazing treatments, three tillage treatments were also implemented for nine years:  no-till, ridge-till, and spring conventional till, after which all treatments were converted to no-till.  This result of the tillage by spring grazing treatments for either corn or soybean yield over nine years showed no interaction and suggested the same effect on yield regardless of tillage treatment used after spring grazing.

Table1-Beef

Effect of Corn Residue Removal on Subsequent Crop Yields“, 2015 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report. Mary E. Drewnoski, L. Aaron Stalker, Jim C. MacDonald, Galen E. Erickson, Kathy J. Hanford, Terry J. Klopfenstein

Spring grazing across all tillage treatments did increase soybean yields statistically (58.5 bu/ac for spring grazed vs. 57.0 bu/ac for ungrazed) and had no effect on corn yields.  The results were similar looking at 16 years of grazing vs. not grazing under no-till for both corn and soybeans in the spring; there was no yield effect found for corn and the soybeans showed a slight yield increase with grazing.

Table2-Beef

Effect of Corn Residue Removal on Subsequent Crop Yields“, 2015 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report. Mary E. Drewnoski, L. Aaron Stalker, Jim C. MacDonald, Galen E. Erickson, Kathy J. Hanford, Terry J. Klopfenstein

Looking at a 10 year period of no-till management for both spring and fall grazed corn residue and subsequent corn and soybean crops, fall grazing statistically improved soybean yields over both spring grazing and no grazing (65.5 bu/ac vs. 63.5 bu/ac and 62.1 bu/ac respectively).  No grazing effects were observed on corn yields in either season.  All statistics were at the 95% confidence level meaning the researchers were 95% confident any yield differences were due to the treatments themselves vs. random chance.

Regarding compaction, in the fall, the field was typically frozen and the researchers felt any mud and compaction associated with grazing cattle was minimized; highest subsequent soybean yields were achieved with fall grazing.  The spring treatment was designed to look more at potential compaction and muddy conditions after spring thaw till right before planting-thus the implementation of different tillage treatments as well.  They used a stocking rate consistent with UNL grazing recommendations resulting in removal of half the husks and leaves produced (8 lbs of leaf and husk per bushel of corn grain produced).  Results of this study indicate that even with muddy conditions in the spring, grazing increased subsequent soybean yields compared to not grazing regardless of tillage system used and that corn yields were not different between grazing vs. not grazing and regardless of tillage system used in the spring.  This study was conducted in Eastern Nebraska in a rainfed environment with yields ranging from 186-253 bu/ac with a 16 year median yield of 203 bu/ac.

Additional Grazing Study

A five year fall grazing study (December through January) was conducted in an irrigated continuous no-till corn field at Brule, NE to determine the effect of corn residue removal via baling corn residue or fall grazing on subsequent corn yields.  That environment receives limited rainfall and residue is deemed important for reducing evaporation of soil moisture in addition for catching/keeping snow on fields.  Farmers were questioning the effects of any residue removal on subsequent corn yields and the study was implemented.

Treatments were 1) fall grazing at 1 animal unit month/acre (AUM), 2) fall grazing 2 AUM/ac, 3) baled, or 4) ungrazed.  The researchers found that residue removal did not affect corn grain yields from 2009-2013 in the continuous corn rotation.  There were no statistical yield differences with 5 year average yields of:  152 bu/ac, 155 bu/ac, 147 bu/ac and 148 bu/ac respectively for the above-mentioned treatments.

Table3-Beef

Effect of Corn Residue Removal on Subsequent Crop Yields“, 2015 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report. Mary E. Drewnoski, L. Aaron Stalker, Jim C. MacDonald, Galen E. Erickson, Kathy J. Hanford, Terry J. Klopfenstein

Cow-Calf College

This looks like an excellent workshop for anyone in cow-calf production.  Hope to see you there!
(Click on the agenda below to enlarge the view).

Cow-Calf College

Forage Options After the Storm

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Town Hall Discussion on such short notice last week!  It was cool watchingPanel discussion during storm damage meeting everyone come together to discuss the concerns at hand.  Here’s a recap of some of the discussion regarding forage options.  We also have provided numerous articles this week and will again next week at UNL’s CropWatch website.  I will continue to post more about our local conditions on my blog.

Forage Options

Dr. Bruce Anderson explained that the best potential usage of storm damaged corn that won’t go for grain is to use it for silage.  He stressed that the silage has to be made at the correct moisture and packed well-and that standing corn could be over 80% moisture right now.  He mentioned the easiest and maybe the best way to lower moisture content is to simply wait until some stalks start to turn brown. This will also allow the surviving corn to continue to add tonnage.  If waiting isn’t desirable, reduce moisture by windowing the crop and allow it to wilt one-half to one full day before chopping. You also could mix grain or chopped hay with freshly chopped corn to lower the moisture content. It takes quite a bit of material for mixing though — about 7 bushels of grain or 350 pounds of hay to lower each ton of silage from 80% to 70% moisture.  When making silage, he recommended adding the inoculant during the chopping process to allow for proper fermentation.

He mentioned haying and baling were an option but that he was concerned about the amount of time it would take for the stalks to dry down at the current moisture.  He recommended crimping the stalks if at all possible to help aid in the drying process.  Be sure to test it for nitrates before feeding.

Grazing might be the easiest way to use damaged corn, and this is a good way to extend your grazing season. You might even plant some corn grain or sorghum-sudangrass or oats and turnips between rows to grow more forage for grazing if you can wait until late fall before grazing. Be sure to introduce livestock slowly to this new forage by feeding them before turning them in to reduce the chances of digestive problems.  Also, strip graze the field to reduce trampling losses and get more grazing.

Shredding was mentioned as an option in some fields.  Dr. Bob Klein observed two years ago in the wind storm out in western Nebraska that shredding of plant material led to piles after wind drifted loose material in the field.  That made for a difficult planting situation the following year.  Making earlage was also mentioned as an option.

Additional Resources:

Storm Damage Discussion

EVERYONE IS INVITED!!! PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!!

Town Hall Discussion

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