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    A beginner’s guide to hay

    round bale of hay

    A picture of a round bale of hay from first cut 2013

    For the last couple of weeks I’ve been at my in-laws’ farm. They needed some help on their farm, and I was more than happy to oblige. Because it was hay season, I got to learn a lot about hay.

    So here’s what I learned about hay.

    Bonus Video

    In this bonus video, I show you500彩票手机软件下载 the process of making hay in Farming Simulator 2013.

    Let me know what you500彩票手机软件下载 think.

    What type of hay seeds work?

    When you500彩票手机软件下载 grow hay it can be a combination of seeds. Many farmers prefer a combination of different seeds.

    A great combination is alfalfa, fescu grass and clover.

    Depending on what type of livestock a farmer has will change what combination of hay they want. Some horse farmers prefer one combination where sheep farmers may want another.

    Keep that in mind when you500彩票手机软件下载’re selling hay. Take note of what’s in you500彩票手机软件下载r hay because some farmers are very particular.

    How to know when to cut hay?

    It’s funny when I was helping out, I didn’t cut any hay, so I had no idea when to do it. So I asked when you500彩票手机软件下载 should cut hay.

    The best time to cut hay is when you500彩票手机软件下载r hay-field is just about to flower. That’s the answer I got for first cut.

    OMAFRA suggests cutting hay in the morning just after the morning dew is off for better drying. However, if you500彩票手机软件下载 want more sugar in you500彩票手机软件下载r hay OMAFRA suggests cutting hat later in the day.

    Try to cut a swath that is as large as possible. This helps hay dry faster.

    How to know when hay is dry?

    Now that you500彩票手机软件下载’ve cut the hay you500彩票手机软件下载 need to know when it’s dry. The way I learned to see if it is dry is to reach under the windrow and feel the bottom of the hay.

    If the hay feels moist, then it’s not ready to bale. An easy test to do to see if hay is ready and bend it in half. If the hay is still wet, it won’t make any crunching sounds. If the hay is ready, it will make a crunching sound and snap almost. Do this test with the hay at the bottom of you500彩票手机软件下载r windrow.

    If the hay it still moist, you500彩票手机软件下载 have two options:

    1. You can use a tedder to turn over hay and to help it dry faster.
    2. You can wait a bit longer to let it dry.

    The advantage of using a tedder is that you500彩票手机软件下载r hay will dry faster. The disadvantage is by tedding you500彩票手机软件下载 will lose material in turning over you500彩票手机软件下载r hay.

    If you500彩票手机软件下载 wait longer, then time and the weather will be you500彩票手机软件下载r problem.

    How to bale hay?

    small square baler

    This is a picture of me using the small square baler attempting to get all the hay in the baler.

    I didn’t do much baling because I was very slow at it, but I did do some when I was at the in-laws.

    I noticed that you500彩票手机软件下载 have to bale very slow in most cases. I was using a small square baler and the windrows were pretty big, so I had a hard time to keep the baler where I wanted it.

    One choice you500彩票手机软件下载 need to make if you500彩票手机软件下载’re baling rounds is, whether you500彩票手机软件下载 want net wrap or twine.

    This choice is largely dependant on you500彩票手机软件下载r baler. Some balers can use both others only twine.

    Advantages of using twine

    • Twine is very cheap. It runs around 30$ for 28,000 feet.

    Disadvantages of using twine

    • Twine takes a while to wrap bales up. If you500彩票手机软件下载’re using a round baler, you500彩票手机软件下载 will have to wait longer using twine.

    Advantages of net wrap

    • Net wrap is faster than using twine. Even if you500彩票手机软件下载 do two wraps, it’s quicker than twine.
    • Because you500彩票手机软件下载’re not spinning the bale as much, there is less loss when spinning.
    • Also, net wrap bales come out very neat and tidy, which can help if you500彩票手机软件下载’re selling hay.
    • Some suggest that net wrap can shed water better than twine.

    Disadvantages of net wrap

    • Net wrap is more expensive than twine. It can be one dollar per bale whereas twine is cents.
    • Some farmers say that net wrap bales stick to frozen ground more than twine.

    Storing hay

    Bale autostacker

    My father in law picking up the small squares in the field.

    Once you500彩票手机软件下载’ve baled you500彩票手机软件下载r hay you500彩票手机软件下载 need to store it somewhere.

    The best place to store hay is inside. Cover alls, or storage sheds work well.

    If you500彩票手机软件下载 don’t have storage space inside, you500彩票手机软件下载 can use a tarp to protect you500彩票手机软件下载r hay outside.

    A big concern when you500彩票手机软件下载’re storing hay is heat. You need to be very careful how you500彩票手机软件下载 store you500彩票手机软件下载 hay. If you500彩票手机软件下载 bunch hay bales together too much, you500彩票手机软件下载r hay will heat up. So, provide space for the heat to escape.

    Final thoughts

    Hay is a lot of work but the rewards are well worth it. I mean without it, many animals wouldn’t have anything to eat.

    Do you500彩票手机软件下载 have an insight on hay? Leave a comment below.

     

    New farmers guide to soil management

    why it is important to learn how to maintain soil

    Photo by John A. Kelley

    Being a new farmer you500彩票手机软件下载 need to know the basics about soil management. I had to do a lot of research about soil to write this post. I will link to a few sites that I found very helpful while doing my research.

    The idea behind this post is to summarize the information I found, and present it to you500彩票手机软件下载 in easy-to-understand way. Essentially, try to give you500彩票手机软件下载 what you500彩票手机软件下载 need to know.

    As I mentioned before, knowing the basics about soil is an essential part about being a farmer.

    Determine you500彩票手机软件下载r soil type

    Determining you500彩票手机软件下载r soil type is probably one of the most important things you500彩票手机软件下载 could do as a new farmer. What this allows you500彩票手机软件下载 to do is decide what type of crop you500彩票手机软件下载 can use on you500彩票手机软件下载r farm. As we know, some crops do better than other crops. We can figure out which crops will do better, if we find out what soil type we have.

    Soil types

    So what are the soil types? I touched on this a bit in a definitive guide to buying farmland, however, I didn’t go into detail.

    There are three basic types of soil:

    • Clay
    • Loam
    • Sand

    Clay holds the most water. If you500彩票手机软件下载’re trying to farm, you500彩票手机软件下载 probably don’t want a lot of Clay on you500彩票手机软件下载r property. Some crops need a bit of Clay, but it’s not you500彩票手机软件下载r ideal choice.

    Loam is the type of soil that you500彩票手机软件下载 want as a farmer. It provides all the necessary elements to grow the best crop possible.

    In many cases, you500彩票手机软件下载 will have a combination of loam and sand or loam and Clay.

    Sand doesn’t hold any water. If you500彩票手机软件下载 are trying to grow something in you500彩票手机软件下载r field, you500彩票手机软件下载 will likely be less successful than someone who has a loam field.

    As I mentioned before, these are just the basic types. Many people will talk about different types, but I didn’t want to get into all that. I am trying to keep it straight forward, so it is easy to understand. I know I got bogged down when I was doing research, so I am trying to prevent that here.

    Let’s continue.

    Soil testing

    Soil testing is essential. It is important to get you500彩票手机软件下载r land tested because this tells you500彩票手机软件下载 what nutrients you500彩票手机软件下载 are lacking in you500彩票手机软件下载r soil. If you500彩票手机软件下载 are lacking a certain nutrient, you500彩票手机软件下载r crop may not do as well as you500彩票手机软件下载 would like.

    You should get you500彩票手机软件下载r soil tested by you500彩票手机软件下载r local expert. Having a local expert test you500彩票手机软件下载r soil, will give you500彩票手机软件下载 the most insightful information.

    So what are you500彩票手机软件下载 testing for? Soil nutrients of course.

    The soil nutrients they are looking for are:

    • Plant-available phosphorus (sodium bicarbonate extractable)
    • Potassium
    • Magnesium (ammonium acetate extractable)
    • Manganese and zinc (index of soil pH and extractable element)
    • pH
    • Lime requirement (SMP buffer pH)
    • Nitrate nitrogen (mostly for corn and requires a special test)

    After finding out what you500彩票手机软件下载r soil has or doesn’t have, you500彩票手机软件下载 can decide what you500彩票手机软件下载 need to put back into you500彩票手机软件下载r soil. You need to have a balance of all these nutrients. The balance of these nutrients is what ensures that you500彩票手机软件下载r crop grows. Some crops use more of one nutrient, so you500彩票手机软件下载 need to know what to put back into you500彩票手机软件下载r soil to get the best crop.

    OMAFRA suggests that you500彩票手机软件下载 get you500彩票手机软件下载r fields tested once every two to three years, but depending on you500彩票手机软件下载r soil type, and what you500彩票手机软件下载 are growing, once a year is also possible.

    What’s in you500彩票手机软件下载r soil

    What do you500彩票手机软件下载 want in you500彩票手机软件下载r soil

    What you500彩票手机软件下载 want in you500彩票手机软件下载r soil is largely dependent upon which crop you500彩票手机软件下载 grow. For example, if you500彩票手机软件下载 grow canola you500彩票手机软件下载 might want to focus on the amount of sulphur you500彩票手机软件下载 have in you500彩票手机软件下载r soil. Also, phosphate and potash are important for canola.

    As you500彩票手机软件下载 can see, it really depends on what crop you500彩票手机软件下载 have planted. Different crops have different needs. So be sure to check what crop needs what. I found this great reference table from OMAFRA which shows you500彩票手机软件下载 what each crop needs.

    What you500彩票手机软件下载 don’t want in you500彩票手机软件下载r soil

    You don’t want insects in you500彩票手机软件下载r soil although some insects are actually good for you500彩票手机软件下载r plants. Sometimes the best way to manage insects is by rotating you500彩票手机软件下载r crops. What this does is prevent the insects from becoming localized in one particular field.

    Cover crops and why you500彩票手机软件下载 need them

    What is a cover crop?

    A cover crop is basically a crop that you500彩票手机软件下载 plant when you500彩票手机软件下载r primary crop is off the field. We do not harvest cover crops. They just sit there in the ground and keep nutrients.

    What are the benefits of cover crops?

    • It improves the quality of the soil.
    • It helps prevent erosion.
    • It improves fertility of the field.
    • It helps to suppress weeds.
    • It helps to control insects.

    Why you500彩票手机软件下载 need a cover crop?

    The reason why you500彩票手机软件下载 want to use a cover crop is that it improves you500彩票手机软件下载r soil. Let’s think about this. If we improve our soil, we will improve our crops. Also, if we use cover crops, you500彩票手机软件下载 will cut the amount of herbicide and insecticide you500彩票手机软件下载 would need to use on you500彩票手机软件下载r field. Is that going to be 100% of the time? The chances are probably not, but it will decrease the total amount you500彩票手机软件下载 need.

    What type of cover crops are there?

    There are many different types of cover crops. Each cover crop provides its own benefits. Therefore, you500彩票手机软件下载 will need to make a choice based on what you500彩票手机软件下载r soil needs. Again, this goes back to getting you500彩票手机软件下载r soil tested. If you500彩票手机软件下载 get you500彩票手机软件下载r soil tested, you500彩票手机软件下载 will know what cover crop to use.

    Here are a few types of cover crops:

    • Clovers
    • Alfalfa
    • Soybeans
    • Rye
    • Oats

    Why new farmers need about soil management

    New farmers and experience farmers need to know how to maintain soil because it is essential to help prevent erosion. Furthermore, it also helps us keep the soil healthy for upcoming generations.

    If we don’t keep the soil healthy, we won’t be able to provide food for the world. That is why it is so important to maintain you500彩票手机软件下载r soil and help each other.

    It is particularly important as a new farmer to understand you500彩票手机软件下载r soil because it really helps to give you500彩票手机软件下载 the information you500彩票手机软件下载 need to make the choices you500彩票手机软件下载 need to make.

     

    How healthy is you500彩票手机软件下载r soil?

    Resources

    Further reading for new farmers