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Harvesting Forage Dr. Dan Undersander University of Wisconsin Topics Quality loss with advancing maturity Wide swath system Cost of ash in forage Wheel traffic on alfalfa Alfalfa Quality Loss with Advancing Maturity Days without rain at La Crosse Wide swath benefits Faster drying

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harvesting forage

Harvesting Forage

Dr. Dan Undersander

University of Wisconsin

topics
Topics
  • Quality loss with advancing maturity
  • Wide swath system
  • Cost of ash in forage
  • Wheel traffic on alfalfa
wide swath benefits
Wide swath benefits
  • Faster drying
  • Higher forage quality
sequence of drying forages
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%
slide7

Sequence of Drying Forages

80%

Stomatal openings

70%

Conditioning

Moisture

Weather regulated

Osmotic & Cell forces

20%

Time

stomata openings
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)
slide10

Respiration continues after cutting until lose some water

Breakdown of starch and sugars

Carbon dioxide

2 – 8% of Dry Matter loss

slide15

Mower-conditioner Swath Width Study

(Windrow 33% and Swath 65% of Cutting Width)

alfalfa moisture content after 6 hours
Alfalfa Moisture Content after 6 Hours

Conditioned?

Herzmann, 2004, Univ of Wisconsin

alfalfa moisture content after 6 hours17
Alfalfa Moisture Content after 6 Hours
  • Conditioned increased drying rate
  • Wide swath increased drying more

Conditioned?

Herzmann, 2004, Univ of Wisconsin

maximum swath width versus cutting width
Maximum swath width versus cutting width

Maximum Swath Width

Cutting Width

slide19

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

mower conditioner options
Mower Conditioner Options
  • Sickle Cutterbar - roll conditioner
  • Disk Cutterbar - roll conditioner
  • Disk Cutterbar - impeller conditioner
conditioner types
Conditioner types

Flail/impellers

Rubber Rolls

roll and impeller comparison
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)
drying rate comparisons
Drying Rate Comparisons

CutterbarConditioner Drying Rate

Rotary Roll 0

Sickle Roll +.2 hr

Rotary Impeller +1.8 hr

conditioner field losses
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

adjust conditioner properly
Adjust conditioner properly
  • Tension on rollers
  • Spacing of rollers
adjust conditioner roller spacing
Adjust conditioner roller spacing

Measure clearance where “Crimp” or smallest clearance occurs

what is ash
What is ash?
  • In forages, 2 sources.
  • Internal sources (e.g. minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous).
  • External sources(e.g. dirt, sand, bedding).
why should ash be a concern
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.
what about research looking directly at the effect of ash in the forage in milk production
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

ash content of forage samples
Ash Content of Forage Samples
  • Raking increases ash content of forage
lodged alfalfa
Lodged Alfalfa

Possible Causes ofHigher Levels of Ash in Forages

mower knife type
Mower knife type

Those knives that “pick up hay” better, also pick up more ash

slide43

Percent Ash in First Cutting Growth of Alfalfa

Hoffman and Others, Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, 1991

what can you do
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
slide46

Typical Forage Harvesting Losses

Field curing

-26%

29% Fed

71% Lost

Harvesting

-14%

Storage

-35%

Feeding

-30%

slide47

Optimum Management

Field curing

-12%

71% Fed

29% Lost

Harvesting

-8%

Storage

-5%

Feeding

-8%

reducing the cost of a ton of forage
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