seal  Purdue News

December 8, 2003

Book places forage know-how in the palm of the hand

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Forage growers looking to stuff their barns with high-quality hay might start by stuffing their shirt pockets with a new Purdue University Extension publication.

The "Purdue Forage Field Guide" packs a wealth of useful information into a palm-size 264-page book that farmers and agricultural industry personnel can use to make in-the-field decisions.

Orders for the book – Extension publication ID-317 – can be made through Purdue's Media Distribution Center.

The book does for forage producers what the annual "Purdue Corn and Soybean Field Guide" does for row crop farmers, said Keith Johnson, Extension forage specialist.

"'The Purdue Forage Field Guide' has information about forage crops in all aspects of managing them, harvesting them and utilizing them," Johnson said.

"It starts by looking at the seeding of forages, then moves into the traits of different forage crops and what they're best used for in this region of the United States. The book examines pest problems associated with forages – insects, weeds and diseases – and harvest management and storage management strategies for hay and silage. We've also included information about nutrient needs for livestock."

Approximately 60 sections are listed in the book's table of contents. Among them are:

• Choosing a Forage Species.

• Renovating Pastures.

• Diagnosing Soil Compaction.

• Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition.

• Diagnosing Herbicide Injury.

• Crop Rotation Restrictions.

• Plants Toxic to Herbivores.

• Dry Matter Losses During Harvest and Storage.

• Improving Hay Drying Rates with Proper Mower-Conditioner Adjustments.

• Estimating Silage Value.

• Legume, Grass and Legume-Grass Mixture Quality Standards.

• Forage Tips for the Year.

The book also provides nutrient recommendations for cattle, goats, horses and sheep, as well as instructions for submitting forage samples to Purdue's Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory for testing. Color photos, graphics and conversion tables are spread throughout the publication.

While the Purdue publication is not the first devoted to forages, it might be the most comprehensive, Johnson said.

"There have been forage field guides that have emphasized alfalfa as the sole forage," Johnson said. "But within this guide, we have pictures and information on roughly 20 different forages. So from that point it's quite unique.

"This publication has a lot of color, particularly in those sections on the identification of pests. The pictures of the forages also are in color, and the charts have enough detail to make them useful."

Forage producers from the Midwest and beyond should find the guide a valuable reference tool.

"I think the book has tremendous adaptation to the states bordering Indiana," Johnson said. "Also, the publication should have broad appeal for forage producers from the Great Plains region to the Northeast."

Many Extension specialists from Purdue's School of Agriculture contributed content and photos for the forage guide. Contributors represented the departments of agronomy, agricultural and biological engineering, animal sciences, botany and plant pathology, and entomology. Forage professionals outside the university provided additional photos.

Internet users can preview the forage guide by logging on to the Purdue Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center Web site.

The field guide is $8. To order, call the toll-free Purdue Extension hotline at (888) 398-4636 (EXT-INFO) and ask for the Media Distribution Center. Order forms are available via e-mail at and on the Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center Web page.

Discounts are available for bulk orders of 300 books or more.

For more information, contact Johnson at (765) 494-4800 or by e-mail at

Writer: Steve Leer, (765) 494-8415,

Source: Keith Johnson, (765) 494-4800,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes,
Agriculture News Page

Related Web site:
Purdue University Forage Information Page

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