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What to know about using failed crops as forage

What to know about using failed crops as forage

Little soil health 3.jpg

Cover crops are bonus grazing in cornstalks for fall grazing after corn harvest.

As South Dakota continues to see warmer than average temperatures and limited rainfall, many producers across the state are planning to harvest failed grain crops as much-needed forage for livestock.

While drought-stressed crops can still be used as forage, there are many factors to consider before harvesting, specifically soil health and feed safety, said Sara Bauder, South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension Agronomy Field Specialist.

“Drought is a widespread issue this year, and producers have many factors to consider, such as accumulated nitrates, potential mycotoxins, moisture content and nutrient analysis,” Bauder said.

To help producers navigate through these issues, SDSU Extension and the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition released a new video series, “Salvaging Drought Stressed Crops.” Each short video segment is moderated by Bauder and includes producers, agronomists, soil health specialists and livestock nutrition experts. The series will cover the following topics:

  • Protecting the soil.
  • Nitrate considerations and testing.
  • Keeping the bottom line in mind.
  • Silage, earlage and high-moisture corn.
  • Using soybeans as forage.
  • Water quality and testing.
  • Grazing corn.

“This series is designed to offer ideas and advice from Extension staff and producers based on knowledge and experience alike,” Bauder says. “Every farm and ranch faces its own unique challenges, and this information is intended to be applied as producers see fit to their own personal situations.”

The video series can be found on the SDSU Extension Agriculture page (extension.sdstate.edu/agriculture). The video link will take viewers to a playlist on the SDSU Extension YouTube channel which includes the entire series.

For more information or questions, contact Bauder at Sara.Bauder@sdstate.edu or 605-995-7378.

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