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Forage Field Guide

27 August 2010

US - A Purdue University Extension publication gives forage producers much to chew on about everything from seeding to using their crop.

With numerous new and expanded sections, the second edition Forage Field Guide is 61 pages longer than the 2004 first edition. Contained within the 2010 edition's 320 pages is nearly everything a producer needs to know about forage, said Keith Johnson, Purdue Extension forage specialist and the guide's project coordinator.

"We start with the soil, then selecting the crop, then managing the crop - from controlling weeds to fertilization to insect and disease management - and, ultimately, harvesting the crop," Mr Johnson said. "In the guide we emphasize not only the machine side of things but also the use of forage by grazing animals. The guide ends with references and a list of contacts if a producer has questions."

Among the revisions are sections on soil fertility, harvest and storage. A new section helps producers determine pasture rent.

"We've also included a section that deals with balage, which is the harvest of forage in a wetter format unlike that of dry hay, that allows it to ensile," Mr Johnson said. "We talk about in-line tubes and the individual packages that look like those large marshmallows of round bales."

The balage section could come in handy in months like this past May and June, when weather conditions made it difficult to make dry hay. Bale crop silage allows a wilting period of up to a full day, compared with the more than two days it takes for forage to reach a safe moisture level to make dry hay.

In addition to forage information, the guide has more than 300 photos of forage species, insects, weeds and nutrient/disease/herbicide problems, as well as 120-plus charts, graphs and conversion tables.

The Forage Field Guide - Purdue Extension publication ID-317 - is $7 and available by contacting Purdue's The Education Store at 1-888-EXT-INFO (398-4636) or online at http://www.the-education-store.com. It is not available in a downloadable format.

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