Volume 10, Number 9
||This Month in Ag Connection|
With the end of one growing season near, it is time to consider your fertility program for the next season. Developing a good fertility program starts with baseline information provided by a good soil test. Fall soil sampling provides a logical starting point for the next year's nutrient management plan. Knowing soil nutrient levels will help with crop planning and budgeting for the following growing season. Testing soils in the fall means better prepared soil and one less thing to do in the spring.
While the most accurate time to soil sample is just prior to seeding, spring sampling may be impractical as it leaves little time for fertilizer program planning before planting. The best alternative is to obtain soil samples in the fall once soil microbial activity has declined.
Applying limestone neutralizes soil acidity. Because agricultural lime takes about six months to break down and react with the soil, it should be applied in the fall to be fully effective in the spring. Unlike fertilizer, lime is needed every three to five years, depending on your crop rotation and nitrogen fertilizer history. The only way to determine if your fields will need lime next year is by soil testing this fall.
Identifying the sampling depth is critical to getting an accurate indication of soil phosphorus and potassium levels. Soil sampling and analysis assumes 2,000,000 lb/acre of soil from the top six inches. For more complete instructions on soil sampling procedures see MU Guide 9110 “How to Get a Good Soil Sample” which can be obtained from your local extension office or on line at http://muextension.missouri.edu/explore/agguides/soils/g09110.htm
The turn-around time from the laboratory is much faster in the fall, usually within a week of submission, because fewer people are submitting samples.
Given the narrow margins that most producers are working with in today’s production systems, there is little room for guessing. Don’t guess when you last collected soil samples. Check your most recent analysis to determine when you last sampled. Soil samples should be collected every 3 to 5 years in order to get an accurate reflection of your soil fertility needs. If you can’t find your last soil analysis, it is probably time to sample again.
(Author: Todd Lorenz, Horticulture/Agronomy Specialist)
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Much of the hay that has been put into bales this spring and summer has been rained on at least once and in some cases as much as five or six times. This will cut down on the quality of the hay and some adjustments will need to be made to feeding programs this winter.
According to Iowa State University researchers, there are three factors
that contribute to dry matter and nutrient losses; those are:
A light rain (less than one inch) on newly cut hay causes the drying time to be extended by a few hours, but causes minimal, if any, damage to the hay. The same amount of rain on nearly dry hay (less than 30% moisture) can lead to significant nutrient losses, especially from leaching and leaf shatter due to additional raking or handling. Dry matter yield is decreased by 5% or more per inch of rain received when the hay is in the windrow, while digestibility can be reduced by 10% or more due to the effects of rain. Leaching and leaf shatter loss increases neutral detergent fiber (NDF), decreasing the nutritive value of the crop. This is the same thing that happens when a producer prolongs harvesting the hay 10 days to two weeks. As the NDF component increases, forage intake by the livestock is reduced along with lowered animal performance. On alfalfa/grass hay, not only was there a 3% decrease in the crude protein level of rained-on hay verses non rained-on hay, there were also major decreases in other hay quality measurements as well.
Rob Kallenbach, University of Missouri Extension State Forage Specialist, argues that, although hay quality and nutrition availability is affected by rain, it is probably more affected by the maturity of the hay. He went on to say that “nutrients will be lost during rain, but more will be lost if a producer waited to cut it.”
The loss of vitamin A from rained-on hay is between 90 to 95% when the hay is left in windrows for three weeks. Vitamin A is important in diets of animals for normal night vision, skin, normal bone growth and all the development of the cells responsible that line or cover body surfaces or cavities. Giving your livestock a good vitamin and mineral supplement will help offset the effects of the poor hay with respect to vitamin and mineral losses.
Other significant sources of feeding losses in a hay crop are storage and feeding. Hay can be stored safely with minimal storage losses if baled around 20% moisture or less. Much of the hay that was put up this year might be higher in moisture content and therefore has the potential to not only become musty or moldy, but also have excessive heating occur within the bale, which decreases palatability and nutrient availability of the hay. With all the rain we have had the last few months a producer might expect greater losses associated with water soaking through the bale from the ground.
Some tips on feeding rain-damaged hay are:
To find out where your hay is nutritionally, have the hay sampled and analyzed. A test costs around $20.00, allowing producers the opportunity to know exactly what they are feeding to their livestock. Contact your local University of Missouri Extension Center to obtain a hay probe to sample your hay. Once the quality of the hay is known, your local University of Missouri Extension Livestock Specialist can help you develop a sound ration for your cattle program, if the need is there.
For more information please contact your local University of Missouri Extension.
(Author: Wendy Flatt, Livestock Specialist)
Taxation Tidbits: Don’t Get Stumped in a Sale of Standing Timber
Research at the University of Missouri suggests significant price variation in timber contracts offered in the Midwest. Prior to selling any timber, seek professional assistance in determining the quantity/value of your timber, the best way for you to structure the sale of your timber, and the potential tax liability resulting from its disposal.
The two most common methods farmers utilize in disposing of timber are lump-sum contract and pay-as-cut contract. With lump-sum contracts, the farmer is paid a lump-sum for the timber regardless of the quantity or tree selection harvested from a given tract of land. The pay-as-cut contract requires the timber purchaser to cut designated trees and to purchase them at an agreed upon unit price.
If the one-year holding period has been met, most sales of standing timber by farmers should qualify for long-term capital gains treatment. If the sale qualifies for capital gains treatment, the income will not be subject to self-employment tax.
From the tax standpoint, the most common and challenging issue involves determining the tax basis (cost basis) of the timber being sold. Tax basis is subtracted from the sale proceeds to determine the amount of gain or loss.
If land is acquired that has standing timber, a portion of the acquisition cost should be allocated to a timber account, just as cost would be allocated to other improvements such as fences, water systems, or buildings. When standing timber is sold under the lump-sum or pay-as-cut methods, basis in the timber account is recovered and utilized in calculating the gain or loss.
Ideally, the timber account basis was determined at the time of land acquisition. However, if it wasn’t, contact your accountant and/or a forestry consultant to determine a justifiable and reasonable amount of the acquisition cost to be allocated to your timber account.
Timber taxation is an area of tax practice in which few tax professionals specialize. Thus, it is important you educate yourself as to the basics of timber taxation and to seek assistance from professionals that understand timber taxation.
An excellent online resource is “Timber Dispositions: A Primer on Obtaining Favorable Tax Treatment” http://www.mobar.org/journal/2001/janfeb/schneider.htm
Your area Department of Conservation forester can be reached at the following locations:
(Author: Parman R. Green, Ag Business Specialist)
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Tips for Temporary Grain Storage
See the following web sites for more information:
(Author: Don Day, Natural Resource Engineer)
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http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/newsletters/is-04-09.htm -- Revised: September 10, 2004