Satellite Imagery: From Space to the Field – Dr. Phil Townsend, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Posted on March 16, 2017 in Forage Foundations

The space age has come to the farm.  Digital imagery – from satellites, drones and other devices – is becoming more readily available and easily accessible with each day.

The Economy and Your Business – Gary Sipiorski, Vita Plus

Posted on March 16, 2017 in Forage Foundations

The picture of the dairy industry is changing fast with new technology, consolidation and volatile global markets.  Gary Sipiorski, Vita Plus dairy development manager, said this will have big impacts for custom harvesters too.

For starters, it means the financial clock is ticking, Sipiorski said during his presentation at the Vita Plus Custom Harvester Meeting.  He challenged attendees to develop an action plan to beat the clock.

Getting Paid For Your Work – David Krekeler, Krekeler Strother, S.C.

Posted on March 16, 2017 in Forage Foundations

David Krekeler, partner in Krekeler Strothers, S.C., said many of the principles in The Art of War by Sun Tzu can be applied to custom harvesting.  Just as Sun Tzu said, “The art of war is of vital importance to the state,” Krekeler said getting paid for your work is of vital importance to stay in business.

“All it takes is one or two people to not pay you and then you’re in debt,” Krekeler told Vita Plus Custom Harvester Meeting attendees.

Developing Your Harvest Team – Peter Coyne, Vita Plus

Posted on March 16, 2017 in Forage Foundations

As rural populations decrease, farms and harvesting crews will have to be competitive to attract new employees to their teams.

Workforce demographics are rapidly changing, explained Peter Coyne, Vita Plus dairy service specialist, during his presentation at the recent Vita Plus Custom Harvester Meeting.  He said more “help wanted” signs are posted now than 1980 and the unemployment rate continues to decrease.  Every day in the U.S., 10,000 people turn 65 and exit the workforce, but the same number of people turn 21 every day.  That means 10,000 jobs are in transition between someone with years of experience and someone who is brand new.

From Way Out West – Dias & Fragoso Custom Harvesting

Posted on March 16, 2017 in Forage Foundations

California may be a U.S. state, but, when it comes to custom forage harvesting, it seems like a whole different world compared with typical Midwest operations.

Bob Headrick has been a part of that world since he started his custom harvesting business in 1976.  He bought his first choppers in the ‘80s and grew his business until 2010, when he sold it to his “competitors and friends” at Dias & Fragoso.  That business is currently owned and operated by Bud and Jerrod Fragoso, and Headrick continues to work with Dias & Fragoso as a forage consultant. 

From Deep in the Heart of Texas – Huffman Farms, McGregor, Texas

Posted on March 16, 2017 in Forage Foundations

Huffman Farms in McGregor, Texas is a little different from other custom harvester operations. Kevin Huffman, owner, and Johan Brink, forage program manager, said they do a significant amount of custom harvesting in addition to harvesting, storing and delivering more than 50,000 tons of corn silage to dairies around central Texas.

Case study: Forages scorecarding to evaluate quality – Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus

Posted on January 26, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus forage products and dairy technical service specialist
The winter months often offer a time to reflect on the past year’s work, including the forages program.  To assist with that review, Vita Plus has developed a forage scorecard to help highlight areas of your forages program where you excel and areas for improvement. 

10 maintenance steps to keep your applicator flowing – Dwain Ewald, Vita Plus

Posted on January 26, 2017 in Forage Foundations

Editor’s note:  In addition to multiple customer service responsibilities at Vita Plus Gagetown in Gagetown, Michigan, Dwain Ewald takes the lead on maintenance services for customers’ forage inoculant applicators. 

By Dwain Ewald, Vita Plus Gagetown customer service
With cold temperatures and piles of snow on the ground, it’s sometimes hard to think about and prepare for the upcoming forage season.  However, doing a little maintenance now can save a lot of time when things get rolling in the spring.  In this article, I will focus on the maintenance of the DE-1000 and DE-1008.5 forage inoculant applicator units manufactured by Dohrmann Enterprises, Inc.  Maintenance steps are similar for both machines.

Utilizing the hybrid seed corn spreadsheet – Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus

Posted on January 26, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy technology specialist
Many farmers can still remember buying seed corn from a neighbor because he was a seed dealer and right next door.  Those days are long gone and producers now have to select from a variety of seeds that will give them the best return on their land while meeting all of their livestock’s needs.  This requires using more university-based research to sort through the many available hybrids.

Be careful out there! – Jon Urness, Vita Plus

Posted on January 26, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Urness, Vita Plus national forage specialist
An American university once received a $250,000 federal grant to study the characteristics of cow manure.  The conclusion of its study: manure is slippery.  I think they could have saved the money and just asked a dairy producer.  I don’t know the specifics of the study, but we sure don’t need a university study to tell us something we have known for decades: things can get slippery on the farm, especially in the winter. 

5 must-haves in your forage inoculant – Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus

Posted on January 26, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus forage products and dairy technical service specialist
Dairy cows are fed silage all year-round.  This means selecting the right inoculant for your operation has the potential to impact the farm’s bottom line on many fronts.  With the inoculant market becoming flooded with so many different choices, it's getting harder to decide which inoculant is right for your needs.   A good inoculant should meet certain qualifications before being considered for use on a farm.  These qualifications include the following...

VIDEO: Forage sampling video – Upright silos – Richard Mensendike, Vita Plus

Posted on January 26, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Richard Mensendike, Vita Plus dairy specialist
In this fourth video of a five-part series, Richard Mensendike, Vita Plus Lanark livestock specialist, walks through the proper steps of sampling upright silos to help you make management and nutrition decisions.  We’ll discuss sampling strategies for other storage structures and feed in upcoming editions of Forage Foundations.

The state of Shredlage in 2016 – Jon Urness, Vita Plus

Posted on November 29, 2016 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Urness, Vita Plus national forage specialist
When Shredlage® was introduced in 2008, it caused quite a stir among dairy producers, nutritionists, custom chopper operators, equipment manufacturers and university researchers. 

Forage seeding…The hidden gem of federal crop insurance – Jenny Kilpatrick, Premier Insurance Solutions, LLC

Posted on November 29, 2016 in Forage Foundations

By Jenny Kilpatrick, Premier Insurance Solutions, LLC insurance agent
As a crop insurance agent in Wisconsin, each year I talk with producers about which crops they want to insure.  Corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and established hay are most frequently mentioned, but producers often forget about their valuable forage seeding crop. 

Reduced-lignin alfalfa – Dr. Daniel Undersander, University of Wisconsin-Extension

Posted on November 29, 2016 in Forage Foundations

By Dr. Daniel Undersander, University of Wisconsin-Extension forage agronomist
Lignin is the key plant cell wall component that gives a plant strength to stand up and prevent water from leaking during transport from the root to the leaves.  This may be good for the plant, but lignin also reduces plant cell wall digestibility in mammals.  For these reasons, we want to find the proper balance of lignin to support the plant without drastically reducing digestibility.

Regional fall harvest reports – John Brantsen, Jerry Ruetten, Jon Rasmussen and Mark Case, Vita Plus

Posted on November 29, 2016 in Forage Foundations

With the 2016 fall harvest behind us, hear from our Vita Plus dairy and forage consultants as they reflect on the hay, corn silage and grain harvests at several points in the Vita Plus market area.