Vita Plus Custom Harvester Meeting 2015: Sharpen skills, adjust the knowledge bar and gain the edge

Posted on February 26, 2015 in Dairy Performance
More than 130 custom harvesters, Vita Plus employee owners and industry peers came together February 17 and 18 for the Vita Plus Custom Harvester Meeting in Onalaska, Wisconsin.  Follow the links below for complete event coverage, including articles, videos, photos and speaker presentations.

Introduction to NIR moisture testers
Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus | Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is used today in agriculture to measure moisture and nutrients, for quality control, to estimate digestibility, and to estimate energy potential of different feeds.  The potential it holds for modern applications is virtually limitless.

On-farm NIR moisture testers:  What’s new and what’s exciting?
Dave Taysom, Dairyland Laboratories, Inc., and John Goeser, Rock River Laboratory, Inc. | Several organizations are leaders in bringing NIR technology to fields and farms to evaluate forage and feed quality in real time.  Whether devices are handheld or mounted on equipment, each has specific nuances that enhance or hinder its accuracy and value.

Are you in sync with your customers?  Here’s what they are saying!
Jon Urness, Vita Plus | Harvest is often a time of high stress on dairies looking to put up high-quality forages and high moisture grains.  The window of opportunity is often ridiculously narrow. Relationships between dairy producers and their custom harvesters can be stretched to the breaking point.

Corn silage digestibility:  Can we make a difference?
Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus | Corn silage is unique in the world of forages, containing a source of digestible NDF as well as digestible starch. “The corn silage world” is filled with facts, fictions, rumors, and allegories as to what management practices can be done to improve corn silage digestibility.

Shredlage:  What we’ve learned
Dr. Randy Shaver, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dr. Larry Chase, Cornell University | Shredlage® is becoming popular, yet many questions still surround the logistics of this harvesting strategy.  Impacts on diet dry matter as well as fiber and starch digestibility have been shown in university research trials, but continued trials and adaptation of the technology will better prove its value.

All things forage:  You pick a topic
Barry Visser and Dr. Darin Bremmer, Vita Plus, with Dr. Randy Shaver and Dr. Larry Chase | Improving forage harvesting and storage strategies will pay off for harvesters’ customers as dairy producers achieve increased milk production with high quality feeds.  Those improvements are possible through a variety of equipment and management options.

Drones:  Coming soon to a farm near you!
Chad Colby, | A hot topic in agriculture seems to be drones, also called ships and unmanned aerial systems.  This technology can aid in timely decision making, data collection, and monitoring of plant and animal health as well as cost savings due to greater precision.

New ways of harvesting and storing forages to enhance feed value
Dr. Kevin Shinners, UW-Madison | Enhancing feed value is a major focus for producers and customer harvesters alike. One strategy is to create a “new” silage between high-cut silage and snaplage, plus a better quality second harvest. This new silage could be stalklage or toplage.

Decisions, decisions, decisions:  Buy or lease?
Gary Sipiorski, Vita Plus | Machinery values on a custom harvester’s balance sheet have a lot of zeroes.  Due to the field conditions and customer needs, the machinery sees a lot of abuse and many long hours of use, but it has to work when the crop is ready.  Therefore, the equipment generally does not stay around for too many years.  Advantages and disadvantages of buying or leasing should be investigated.

Communicating the value of your business
Jon Urness, Vita Plus, and Jason Brandt, J&A Forage Services | Sometimes custom harvesters need to remind their customers of the value they bring to the table when it comes to producing a supply of quality, consistent forages. As uncomfortable as it may be to do that, communication during the off-season can go a long way toward being on the same page with harvest clients.

Unmanned aerial vehicles:  A crash course
Chad Colby, | Drones can offer great value to agriculture, but operating unmanned aerial systems requires immense considerations of safety and compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.


Custom harvesting in the Central Valley
Dan Lamb, Lamb Chops Custom Harvesting | California produces more than 400 different crops thanks to its abundant, fertile land.  The state also produces 21.3 percent of the U.S. milk supply.  More than 40 established custom chopping businesses harvest 18 million tons of forage in California each year.

Category: Dairy Performance