FARM: Field Application Resource Monitor

One of the missions of the State Climate Office of Ohio (SCOO; https://climate.osu.edu) is to serve as data stewards to connect Ohioans with the weather and climate information necessary to improve lives. In an effort to provide farmers across the state with sufficient weather guidance, specifically to aid in decisions regarding the application of fertilizer and manure, SCOO has developed FARM, the Field Application Resource Monitor (https://farm.bpcrc.osu.edu/).

FARM is a web-based, mobile friendly tool that provides:

  • Real-time high resolution precipitation forecasts to field(s) of interest (up to five locations),
  • Historical precipitation forecasts (back to July 2017),
  • Daily email notifications if desired (text alerts coming soon).

Originally designed in response to Senate Bill 1 regulations for the Western Lake Erie Basin, FARM can help any farmer throughout Ohio follow best management practices with regard to their precipitation forecast needs.

Precipitation forecasts in FARM are provided via the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center (WPC). We utilize the probabilistic forecasts which are based on a combination of WPC’s 6-hour quantitative precipitation forecasts and an ensemble of model forecasts. This data is available on a 1.5 mile x 1.5 mile grid, meaning FARM provides precipitation guidance on a local scale.

Again, FARM can be found by visiting /farm.bpcrc.osu.edu/. For more information on creating user profiles, returning, and other features of FARM, please check out http://u.osu.edu/farmprecip for a full tutorial. We have also provided a feedback button on the initial screen and request feedback, suggestions, and improvements as we continue to improve our product.

This program provides weather data only and does not take into account current field conditions.  Below is a snapshot of the weather information for our office at 160 Columbus Rd.

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Beware of Frost-damaged Forages

Sandy Smith, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Carroll County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: October 25, 2018)

Last week, we experienced our first frosts of the season in some areas of Ohio, but I don’t think anyone has experienced the real killing frost yet.

When some forages freeze, changes in their metabolism and composition can be toxic to ruminant livestock. The two problems that can occur are prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) poisoning and bloat.

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Avoid Forage Toxicities After Frosts

Originally posted on the BEEF Newsletter– Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

As cold weather approaches this week, livestock owners need to keep in mind the few forage species that can be extremely toxic soon after a frost. Several species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. A few legumes species have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost. Each of these risks is discussed in this article along with precautions to avoid them.

Species with prussic acid poisoning potential

Forage species that can contain prussic acid are listed below in decreasing order of risk of toxicity after a frost event:

  • Grain sorghum = high to very high toxic potential
  • Indiangrass = high toxic potential
  • Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghums = intermediate to high potential
  • Sudangrass hybrids = intermediate potential
  • Sudangrass varieties = low to intermediate in cyanide poisoning potential
  • Piper sudangrass = low prussic acid poisoning potential
  • Pearl millet and foxtail millet = rarely cause toxicity

Species not usually planted for agronomic use can also develop toxic levels of prussic acid, including the following:

  • Johnsongrass
  • Shattercane
  • Chokecherry
  • Black cherry
  • Elderberry

It is always a good idea to check areas where wild cherry trees grow after a storm and pick up and discard any fallen limbs to prevent animals from grazing on the leaves and twigs.

Fertility can affect poisoning risk. Plants growing under high nitrogen levels or in soils deficient in phosphorus or potassium will be more likely to have high prussic acid poisoning potential.

Fresh forage is more risky. After frost damage, cyanide levels will likely be higher in fresh forage as compared with silage or hay. This is because cyanide is a gas and dissipates as the forage is wilted and dried for making silage or dry hay.

Plant age affects toxicity. Young, rapidly growing plants of species that contain cyanogenic glucosides will have the highest levels of prussic acid. After a frost, cyanide is more concentrated in young leaves and tillers than in older leaves or stems. New growth of sorghum species following a non-killing frost is dangerously high in cyanide. Pure stands of indiangrass can have lethal levels of cyanide if they are grazed when the plants are less than 8 inches tall.

Toxicity Symptoms

Animals can die within minutes if they consume forage with high concentrations of prussic acid. Prussic acid interferes with oxygen transfer in the blood stream of the animal, causing it to die of asphyxiation. Before death, symptoms include excess salivation, difficult breathing, staggering, convulsions, and collapse.

Ruminants are more susceptible to prussic acid poisoning than horses or swine because cud chewing and rumen bacteria help release the cyanide from plant tissue.

Grazing Precautions

The following guidelines will help you avoid danger to your livestock this fall when feeding species with prussic acid poisoning potential:

  • Do not graze on nights when frost is likely. High levels of toxic compounds are produced within hours after a frost, even if it was a light frost.
  • Do not graze after a killing frost until plants are dry, which usually takes 5 to 7 days.
  • After a non-killing frost, do not allow animals to graze for two weeks because the plants usually contain high concentrations of toxic compounds.
  • New growth may appear at the base of the plant after a non-killing frost. If this occurs, wait for a killing freeze, then wait another 10 to 14 days before grazing the new growth.
  • Don’t allow hungry or stressed animals to graze young growth of species with prussic acid potential. To reduce the risk, feed ground cereal grains to animals before turning them out to graze.
  • Use heavy stocking rates (4-6 head of cattle/acre) and rotational grazing to reduce the risk of animals selectively grazing leaves that can contain high levels of prussic acid.
  • Never graze immature growth or short regrowth following a harvest or grazing (at any time of the year). Graze or greenchop sudangrass only after it is 15 to 18 inches tall. Sorghum-sudangrass should be 24 to 30 inches tall before grazing.
  • Do not graze wilted plants or plants with young tillers.

Greenchop

Green-chopping frost-damaged plants will lower the risk compared with grazing directly, because animals are less likely to selectively graze damaged tissue. Stems in the forage dilute the high prussic acid content that can occur in leaves. However, the forage can still be toxic, so feed greenchop with great caution after a frost. Always feed greenchopped forage of species containing cyanogenic glucosides within a few hours, and don’t leave greenchopped forage in wagons or feedbunks overnight.

Hay and silage are safer

Prussic acid content in the plant decreases dramatically during the hay drying process and the forage should be safe once baled as dry hay. The forage can be mowed anytime after a frost if you are making hay. It is rare for dry hay to contain toxic levels of prussic acid. However, if the hay was not properly cured and dried before baling, it should be tested for prussic acid content before feeding to livestock.

Forage with prussic acid potential that is stored as silage is generally safe to feed. To be extra cautious, wait 5 to 7 days after a frost before chopping for silage. If the plants appear to be drying down quickly after a killing frost, it is safe to ensile sooner.

Delay feeding silage for 8 weeks after ensiling. If the forage likely contained high levels of cyanide at the time of chopping, hazardous levels of cyanide might remain and the silage should be analyzed before feeding.

Nitrate accumulation in frost forages

Freezing damage also slows down metabolism in all plants that might result in nitrate accumulation in plants that are still growing, especially grasses like oats and other small grains, millet, and sudangrass. This build-up usually isn’t hazardous to grazing animals, but green chop or hay cut right after a freeze can be more dangerous. When in doubt, send a forage sample to a forage testing lab for nitrate testing before grazing or feeding it.

Species That Can Cause Bloat

Forage legumes such as alfalfa and clovers have an increased risk of bloat when grazed one or two days after a hard frost. The bloat risk is highest when grazing pure legume stands and least when grazing stands having mostly grass.

The safest management is to wait a few days after a killing frost before grazing pure legume stands – wait until the forage begins to dry from the frost damage. It is also a good idea to make sure animals have some dry hay before being introduced to lush fall pastures that contain significant amounts of legumes. You can also swath your legume-rich pasture ahead of grazing and let animals graze dry hay in the swath. Bloat protectants like poloxalene can be fed as blocks or mixed with grain. While this an expensive supplement, it does work well when animals eat a uniform amount each day.

Frost and Equine Problems (source: Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska)

Minnesota specialists report that fall pasture, especially frost damaged pasture, can have high concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates, like sugars. This can lead to various health problems for horses, such as founder and colic. They recommend pulling horses off of pasture for about one week following the first killing frost.

High concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates are most likely in leafy regrowth of cool-season grasses such as brome, timothy, and bluegrass but native warm-season grasses also may occasionally have similar risks.

Another unexpected risk can come from dead maple leaves that fall or are blown into horse pastures. Red blood cells can be damaged in horses that eat 1.5 to 3 pounds of dried maple leaves per one thousand pounds of bodyweight. This problem apparently does not occur with fresh green leaves or with any other animal type. Fortunately, the toxicity does not appear to remain in the leaves the following spring.

Biennial and Perennial Weed Control is Best in the Fall

Dwight Lingenfelter, Extension Associate, Weed Science, Penn State University
William S. Curran,Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Weed Science, Penn State University

Fall is an excellent time to manage biennial and perennial weeds. In particular, biennials such as common burdock, wild carrot, and bull, musk, and plumeless thistles are much easier to kill while they are in the rosette stage of growth, prior to surviving a winter. Once biennials start growth in the spring they rapidly develop with the goal of reproducing and it becomes more difficult to control them.

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Changes Made to Ohio’s Prohibited Noxious Weeds List

Source: Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law (edited)

Palmer Amaranth

New changes to Ohio’s prohibited noxious weeds list took effect Friday, September 14th.  The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) added 13 new species to the list, and removed 3 species.

On this blog, throughout the spring and summer I posted information and identification tips on each of the 21 Ohio noxious weeds.  This information can be easily found by typing “noxious weeds” in the Search this blog… box found on any page within our blog.  In the upcoming weeks, I will add similar posts for each of the new weeds added to this list.

Added to the list of prohibited noxious weeds are:

  • Yellow Groove Bamboo (Phyllostachys aureasculata), when the plant has spread from its original premise of planting and is not being maintained.
  • Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis).
  • Heart-podded hoary cress (Lepidium draba sub. draba).
  • Hairy whitetop or ballcress (Lepidium appelianum).
  • Perennial sowthistle (Sonchus arvensis).
  • Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens).
  • Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula).
  • Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium).
  • Serrated tussock (Nassella trichotoma).
  • Columbus grass (Sorghum x almum).
  • Musk thistle (Carduus nutans).
  • Forage Kochia (Bassia prostrata).
  • Water Hemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus).

Removed from the list are:

  • Wild carrot (Queen Anne’s lace) (Daucus carota L.).
  • Oxeye daisy (Chrysanthermum leucanthemum var. pinnatifidum).
  • Wild mustard (Brassica kaber var. pinnatifida).

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Biennial and Perennial Weed Control is Best in the Fall

– Dwight Lingenfelter, Extension Associate, Weed Science, Penn State and William S. Curran,Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Weed Science, Penn State

Fall is an excellent time to manage biennial and perennial weeds. In particular, biennials such as common burdock, wild carrot, and bull, musk, and plumeless thistles are much easier to kill while they are in the rosette stage of growth, prior to surviving a winter. Once biennials start growth in the spring they rapidly develop with the goal of reproducing and it becomes more difficult to control them.

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Buying Hay the Smart Way

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: September 18, 2018)

Purchasing hay, as simple as it seems, can be rather tricky. Knowing what and how much you need as well as trying to compare multiple feedstuffs on a level playing field can sometimes make hay buying a challenge.

“When hay supply is abundant, prices are lower and ranchers may not see the benefit in taking the time to price hay based on quality,” explains Adele Harty, extension cow/calf field specialist with South Dakota State University (SDSU), in an iGrow livestock newsletter. “Taking time to do this in a year with ample supply will help one be comfortable with the process when supplies are short.”

She provides the following four steps to help make the process of purchasing hay less taxing.

1. Determine feed quantity needs.

The first step is to calculate how many pounds of feed are needed to meet the nutritional demands of your [livestock] throughout the feeding period. Include hay waste in the pounds fed per head per day since storage and environmental losses can easily accumulate.

The following calculation can be used to determine this amount:

Days on feed x number of head x pounds fed per head per day

Be sure in include a minimum of 10% waste in your calculations.

2. Complete a Feed Inventory.

Create a list of resources that includes not only the quantity, but also the quality. “This will allow for determining quantity and quality of feed that needs to be purchased,” Harty notes.

If your resources meet the needs of your [livestock], then the process can end here. But, depending on the cost of feedstuffs, the potential to buy higher quality feedstuffs to enlarge your inventory could be present.

3. Determine shortfalls.

Once you know the quality of your feedstuffs, you will be able to determine the limiting nutrients. But, knowing what nutrients are needed can be challenging, so cost and convenience need to be considered.

“Working with a nutrition consultant can be helpful through this process,” Harty advises.

4. Find options and compare prices on a per unit of nutrient basis.

Before you make any hay purchase, make sure that a nutrient analysis has been completed. There are several options available for testing that can provide total digestible nutrients (TDN), crude protein, and mineral concentrations for your sample.

If the seller hasn’t done a test, Harty encourages buyers to request one or do one themselves. “By ‘guessing’ at quality, one could be making a serious mistake and end up compromising [livestock] performance or costing much more than it should,” she explains.

When comparing to other feedstuffs, the comparison needs to be done on a dry matter (DM) basis. To find the price per ton of DM, take the as-is price and divide by the percent of dry matter (as a decimal). Next, take the DM price and divide that number by the percent of the nutrient on a DM basis (as a decimal) to get the price per unit of nutrient.

All of this can be summed up in the following equation:

(As-is Price ÷ Percent Dry Matter) ÷ Percent Nutrient on a DM basis

Harty offers an example of a price comparison of two hays priced at $95 per ton delivered.

In this situation, whether additional protein or energy is needed, Hay A is the best option on a cost per unit of nutrient basis.

SDSU extension provides a calculator to help determine the cost of nutrient and compare multiple feedstuffs on the iGrow website.

Autumn Grazing Tips for Extending the Growing Season

Originally Posted in the Sheep Newsletter- Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

The older I get, the more I tend to philosophize about things. I’ve been asked a few times why I am such an advocate for sound grazing practices. Best management grazing practices, just like conservation practices for reducing or preventing soil erosion on cropland, help preserve and or regenerate resources not only for present generation, but also for future generations.                         

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Ohio Quarterly Climate Summary: Jun – Aug 2018

Source: Aaron Wilson
  • The 2018 summer season ranks as the 17th warmest in Ohio since 1895*. June 2018 ranks as the 4th warmest.
  • Temperatures averaged 0 to 4°F above normal across the state, with the largest differences across the northern counties (Fig. 1).
  • The warmth was driven by overnight lows that were well above average (Fig. 2).

Click Here to Read Full Summary

 

Ensuring Quality Silage After Excessive Rains and Flooding

Source: Penn State University

Corn that will be harvested as silage, and was previously in standing water during the growing season can be of concern when it comes to forage quality and palatability. Bacterial contaminants and silt can lead to animal health and fermentation problems.

According to a Cornell University publication by Paul Cerosaletti and Dale Dewing, silt deposition on standing corn can result in greater risk for clostridial contamination, as the primary source of clostridium bacteria is found in soil. If silage does not undergo the desired lactate fermentation and undergoes clostridial fermentation, moisture levels can reach greater than 70%, the pH is typically greater than 5.0, and a rank odor can be detected. This type of fermentation also causes deadly botulism toxins. Soil-contaminated forage can also contain coliform and listeria bacteria.

Corn that has been flooded and has a large amount of silt deposition on the standing forage could be of less risk to animal health and improper fermentation if it dried down and is harvested for grain. If the silt is found only on the portion of the plant near the ground, consider raising the chopping height so soil particles are not integrated into the chopped forage.

A publication from Cornell University goes more in depth on what to look for with flood damaged corn and management factors to consider.