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An ounce of doing is worth a pound of talk
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have about 15 acres of alfalfa that is thinning. I have been thinking of No Till in some Tall Fescue into the existing stand, or should break up the ground and just seed back with the seed. The plan is to have some mostly grass hay to feed my calves while weaning.
 

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Lots would depend on some of the specifics to your situation. Here's a list of questions to ask yourself that may help guide you to the best decision for you.

1. Do you have the equipment to either/both options? If not, can you rent or hire out for someone to do it?
2. What's your soil test say you need for soil amendments? Depending on what you need, plowing may work the soil amendment in better.
3. Would you still like to get some alfalfa off the field over the next few years? The alfalfa will slowly fade away if you no till in the fescue but will stop completely if you plow it under.
4. What kind of weed pressure do you have? If you are having weed issues now, doing a chemical burn off (like RoundUp) followed by plowing may get you ahead on the weed game.
5. If you plow and replant, likely to get little hay off the field the first year after compared to no tilling in the fescue to the established alfalfa stand. Can you live with that? Do you have access to other sources of hay in the establishment year if you plow the alfalfa under?
6. You mention the need to 'break up the ground'. Do you have a lot of soil compaction you need to deal with in the field? If you do and you don't want to plow, have you considered use of a cover crop for a year to help loosen the soil? (Your local Cooperative Extension agent could help you flush out this idea if you wanted to pursue it.)

Just my thoughts and some questions that I would be mulling over in my head if I were making this decision.

Or in the end, you could analyze the situation to death with either option putting you in the same place several years down the road.
 

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An ounce of doing is worth a pound of talk
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have a friend that wants me to cut and bale his hay; about 200 acres, so I would get some hay out of that. It would be nice to be able to sell that hay, so maybe a good option is to burn down the weeds with chemical and no till in some seed. One portion of the field is getting a little ruff, but its not to bad. If I was to plow it up, I would get someone to do it; we sold our plow last summer, we could no longer find shears for it, and they were wore out. The conservation district just bought a new 10' no till seeder I could rent, and it would be nice to get a little hay our of the field. I have some time think about it before I have to do it. We thought of doing it last year, but with not getting hardly any snow last year, and the mountain didn't get much I was afraid to do anything with it. This year the Wind River Mountains are at 105% snowpack so far. I don't think we will get cut back on our water this year.

Thanks for the ideas.
 

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Hay Master (Supposedly)
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If the ground is smooth and you have access to a good no till drill that would probably be the way to go. If the ground is rough I would lean heavily toward working it if only as a means to get it smoothed out.
 

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If I were to plow I’d rather plow in the fall. Plowing works good and great but you waste a lot of moisture. We don’t have lots of moisture in this area. With a thin strand of alfalfa and no till grass you won’t need to spend lots of money on nitrogen fertilizer especially with sky high prices. In my opinion a little amount of alfalfa will be good for the cows to wean on as well.
 
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