With the cows happily grazing on the mountain, we snuck in some summertime farming. This is a little unusual for us. Most of our planting gets done in the spring with a little bit of winter wheat being planted this time of the year. This year we got a little more ambitious.
When we plant winter wheat, we will usually get be trying to improve a stand of alfalfa. By removing the alfalfa in the late summer and putting in wheat, we can grow pasture for the cattle in the fall, harvest a large amount of wheat hay the following summer and plant back into alfalfa. This is the plan for one of our fields. Another is already in the phase of being planted back to alfalfa. On this one, my brother got the idea to go ahead and plant some oats with it to provide pasture for the calves this fall. The oats won’t reach their normal size, but should be tall enough to provide a substantial amount of quality forage. The oats don’t compete too vigorously with the alfalfa and are fairly commonly used as a “nurse” crop. This is done in the spring and the oats can be harvested and the small alfalfa plants can then come up and establish a new stand.
The last field was planted into oats in the spring as we normally do. It was a field that had turned to mostly grass over the years so we wanted to put it back into alfalfa. The oats have been hayed and we were thinking about just irrigating them again for a little oat regrowth then plowing the field late this fall and trying to smooth it up before our long term alfalfa stand was planted. However, we changed our minds and decided to put ryegrass and a light rate of oats in to grow pasture for the calves this fall.
In both the ryegrass and winter wheat fields, we simply “no tilled” the seed into the ground. This means we didn’t plow the field and level it. We have a no till drill that we use for this. It has the ability to make a small furrow in even hard, dry ground. This reduces the amount of fuel that we burn and the possibility of erosion since the litter and root structure is left in tact. It helps to keep moisture in the soil, too, because of the litter. I am a little worried about the ryegrass since the seed basically lays on the surface of the ground instead of being planted lower like the oats and wheat. If the field was under a pivot, I wouldn’t have to worry about it moving with the irrigation water like I do with flood irrigation. However, I am feeling a little bit better about it tonight because it is starting to germinate.
The alfalfa that we planted was planted in a reduced tillage system. We didn’t plow the completely. It was disced up and leveled. This helps to smooth the field for both driving our haying equipment across year after year and more evenly irrigating it.
Lastly, there are a few pictures that I just thought were cool. One is a picture of part of a storm that passed through a few nights ago. The second is just because Wyoming is wonderful. The power lines kind of messed up my photo, but at the same time that is about right for Wyoming isn’t it? And, lastly, I had a little help irrigating the other morning. You can see Gemma was there hiding behind Lorelei.
by Brandon Greet