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  1. Harvesting Forage Dr. Dan Undersander University of Wisconsin

  2. Topics • Quality loss with advancing maturity • Wide swath system • Cost of ash in forage • Wheel traffic on alfalfa

  3. Alfalfa Quality Loss with Advancing Maturity

  4. Days without rain at La Crosse

  5. Wide swath benefits • Faster drying • Higher forage quality

  6. Sequence of Drying Forages • Phase I • moisture moves along stem • Primary moisture loss is through stomata • Phase II • Primary moisture loss from the stem surface • Phase III • Removes tightly held water below 45%

  7. Sequence of Drying Forages 80% Stomatal openings 70% Conditioning Moisture Weather regulated Osmotic & Cell forces 20% Time

  8. Legumes 10X more stomata than Grass

  9. Stomata Openings • Sunlight – more they get the more they stay open • Shading closes Stomata • 20 – 30% of water removed before stomata close • Removes 30% of the water from the stem (grass)

  10. Respiration continues after cutting until lose some water Breakdown of starch and sugars Carbon dioxide 2 – 8% of Dry Matter loss

  11. Relative humidity inside windrow

  12. Wide swath

  13. Mower-conditioner Swath Width Study (Windrow 33% and Swath 65% of Cutting Width)

  14. Alfalfa Moisture Content after 6 Hours Conditioned? Herzmann, 2004, Univ of Wisconsin

  15. Alfalfa Moisture Content after 6 Hours • Conditioned increased drying rate • Wide swath increased drying more Conditioned? Herzmann, 2004, Univ of Wisconsin

  16. Maximum swath width versus cutting width Maximum Swath Width Cutting Width

  17. Moisture content of alfalfa 5.5 hours after cutting with various windrow width to cut width ratios, WI Farm Technology Days, 2002

  18. Put hay into wide swath Keep off of ground

  19. Mower Conditioner Options • Sickle Cutterbar - roll conditioner • Disk Cutterbar - roll conditioner • Disk Cutterbar - impeller conditioner

  20. Cross Section of Crop Stem

  21. Conditioned hay

  22. Conditioner types Flail/impellers Rubber Rolls

  23. Rollers vs flail (impeller) conditioners

  24. Roll and Impeller Comparison • Roll creates a crushing action • Impeller creates a stripping action • Impeller tends to have higher losses • Roll with rotary mower will leave strips in light crops (Limited air through rear of machine)

  25. Drying Rate Comparisons CutterbarConditioner Drying Rate Rotary Roll 0 Sickle Roll +.2 hr Rotary Impeller +1.8 hr

  26. Conditioner drying rates Alfalfa Grass

  27. Comparison of Losses(%)Wisconsin Study

  28. Conditioner field losses Flail conditioners have 2 to 3 % higher field losses with alfalfa. The loss is all leaves so forage quality is significantly reduced. Stems Leaves

  29. Adjust conditioner properly • Tension on rollers • Spacing of rollers

  30. Adjust conditioner roller spacing Measure clearance where “Crimp” or smallest clearance occurs

  31. What is ash? • In forages, 2 sources. • Internal sources (e.g. minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous). • External sources(e.g. dirt, sand, bedding).

  32. Why should % ash be a concern? • Ash provides minerals to the diet, but no calories (i.e. energy). • Takes the place of nutrients on almost a 1:1 basis.

  33. What about research looking directly at the effect of % ash in the forage in milk production? “While there have been few dairy research trials in this area, it is highly likely that cows do not milk well when fed dirt.” Pat Hoffman, Dairy Scientist,Marshfield ARS, 2002

  34. What levels of ash should you expect in a forage test?

  35. Ash Content of Forage Samples • Raking increases ash content of forage

  36. Lodged Alfalfa Possible Causes ofHigher Levels of Ash in Forages

  37. Possible Causes ofHigher Levels of Ash in Forages Disk Cutterbar Cutting height

  38. Wheel Rakes

  39. Mower knife type Those knives that “pick up hay” better, also pick up more ash

  40. Percent Ash in First Cutting Growth of Alfalfa Hoffman and Others, Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, 1991

  41. Rake properly

  42. What can you do? • Cut hay onto layer of stubble • Keep hay off ground • Wide swath • Set rake not touch soil • Merge rather than rake

  43. Typical Forage Harvesting Losses Field curing -26% 29% Fed 71% Lost Harvesting -14% Storage -35% Feeding -30%

  44. Optimum Management Field curing -12% 71% Fed 29% Lost Harvesting -8% Storage -5% Feeding -8%

  45. Reducing the cost of a ton of forage If forage costs $50 / ton to produce Cost of fed forage is $172/ton Cost of fed forage is $70/ton