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May 12, 2003

Producers can rake in ideas at Purdue Forage Day

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Farmers will have the opportunity to learn a new way to determine the value of their forages at the Purdue University Forage Day on June 26 near Middlebury, Ind.

The annual program will contain the usual equipment demonstrations and educational sessions, but will tackle a new concept for measuring forage quality, said Keith Johnson, a Purdue Extension forage specialist and event co-chairman.

"For years forage and livestock producers have used relative feed value (RFV) as a measure to determine the value of their forages," he said. However, not everyone believes that the RFV index gives the best measure of forage value, so the concept of relative forage quality (RFQ) has emerged.

Dan Undersander of the University of Wisconsin will discuss the differences between RFV and RFQ in his Forage Day presentation. Undersander, one of the original proponents of the method, believes RFQ gives producers a better idea how much forage is worth.

Several other Purdue experts will cover topics that relate to forage production and utilization.

After lunch, farmers can watch traditional and new forage harvesting equipment.

Dave Trotter, a Purdue Extension educator in Clark County and co-chair of the event, said approximately 16 companies will have mowers, rakes, tedders, balers and other equipment in action during the afternoon.

"Producers have the opportunity to go straight to the source with questions about the equipment and can see how equipment performs in the field," he said. "One manufacturer plans to bring some horse-drawn haymaking equipment. He's arranged to have a team of horses at the event and will demonstrate the company's newest horse-drawn equipment."

This year's Forage Day takes place on the Dennis Smeltzer family farm near Middlebury. Johnson said Smeltzer was a traditional corn and soybean farmer who enjoyed haymaking and decided to become a hay cash crop producer.

"He predominately raises alfalfa and alfalfa-orchard grass hay for horse markets and some dairy farms," Johnson said.

Smeltzer also has a small beef cattle herd to use the less saleable hay.

"It's been my observation that successful cash crop producers have their own means of adding value to their lower quality forages," Johnson said.

Johnson said he thinks this year's location will be an advantage to producers.

"This event rotates around the state," he said. "It's been several years since we've been in north-central Indiana, and it will probably be several more before we're there again. In addition, the site we've got is topnotch and participants have the chance to take home a lot of information they can use in their fields and pastures."

Forage Day will feature a hay quality contest. Divisions are grass, legume and mixed. To enter, participants must bring an unbroken bale of hay. The bale will be evaluated using a near-infrared reflectance spectrophotometer. Winners will be announced two weeks after Forage Day. Prizes are provided by the Indiana Forage Council and various agribusinesses.

Registration for Forage Day is free and begins at 8:30 a.m. The event runs from 9 a.m. to approximately 4 p.m. Lunch is available at the site for a fee.

The site is located on County Road 8 in Elkhart County. To get there from Middlebury, take State Road 13 north to County Road 10, and travel west on County Road 10 until it intersects with County Road 8, then follow the signs. For further information, contact the Purdue Extension office in your county or call Carol Summers, agronomy Extension secretary, at (765) 494-4783.

Writer: Kay Hostetler, (765) 494-6682, kjh@purdue.edu

Sources: Keith Johnson, (765) 494-4800, johnsonk@purdue.edu

David Trotter, (812) 256-4270, dtrotter@purdue.edu

Related Web sites:

Purdue Forage Information Web site: http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages/index.html

University of Wisconsin Relative Forage Quality Web site: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/crops/uwforage/RFQvsRFV.htm

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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