Mixtures of grasses and legumes help hay quality and quantity

An extension forage specialist says planting a mixture of forage plants can often ensure a better hay crop.

Clark County Wisconsin ag agent Richard Halopka tells Brownfield when using a monoculture system, you often get all or nothing, so it is wise to plant some insurance with the alfalfa. “That alfalfa legume added into that grass is very beneficial, not only supplying nitrogen for that grass crop, but it also brings in another component where if we get a dry spell, some of those legumes will come through where those grasses might take a vacation.”

Halopka says with corn, soybeans, and byproducts costing more now, farmers are working to get the most from their alfalfa hay. “When you want to get that good protein and relative feed value for those dairy cows or if you’re finishing some livestock in that feedlot, we need those high-protein feeds to get that muscle and bone plus milk factor out of that feed without having to go to the feed mill and buy it.”

Halopka says much of the upper Midwest has experienced dry weather, but many farmers still had good quality 1st crop hay.

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