Fertilizer Value of fed hay

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Otha

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We have around 3 times the amount of hay we will need to make it through the winter this year. We will be keeping some as roll over for next year in case cost rise or we have a drought, but with irrigated hay fields we will always be able to make enough to get by. We've decided we don't want to sell any hay if we can help it, however we could use a little extra cash flow this fall and winter. We've discussed various ways to manage these needs with little ground being made on a solution. The main idea we've come up with would be getting extra cattle on the farm to eat more hay. The two ways to accomplish this are of course buying some cows or we likely have the option to run some heifers for a neighbor. The neighbor isn't short on hay either so the price we arrived at wouldn't be anything that would make us much money but we could at least make back some of the cash we spent making the hay. So the question is, what's the value of feeding the hay on our ground? We've seen the benefits of unrolling hay and what it does to the ground for the next few years but we don't have a way to put on a dollar amount to that effect. I understand we could possibly make more money by feeding the excess hay to some class of trader cows but there would be much more risk involved in that route.

Thanks in advance for your advice.
 

Stocker Steve

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Lots of articles out there on the NPK content of hay.

But VALUE is based on how much you can utilize. If you have 400 ppm of K around the bale ring but you are short on something else, then most of that K has no VALUE, because your production is based on the limiting item.

So you need before and after soil tests to get close.
 
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Otha

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Lots of articles out there on the NPK content of hay.

But VALUE is based on how much you can utilize. If you have 400 ppm of K around the bale ring but you are short on something else, then most of that K has no VALUE, because your production is based on the limiting item.

So you need before and after soil tests to get close.
A good soil sample is the answer more often than not when talking about soil and hay. I guy might out to think about the use of a soil sample before he post a question.

That website has some interesting articles on it, thanks for the link. I'll be watching what they post there from now on.
 

Dave

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To see what the nutrient value back to the soil from feeding hay test the manure. There are tables to show how much manure an animal of a certain size will produce in a day.
 

Nick Wagner

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The manure is part of the equation but the wasted hay will have a value to the soil too.
Yes, N, P, and K values are measurable but are only part of the equation. Hard to put a dollar value on it but manure and rotted hay greatly improve your soil, potentially at least. On the other hand, I saw a dairy farm crop yields improve when they sold the cows, but Andy spread manure 365 days a year, no matter what.
 

Stocker Steve

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Zero value if you overapply nutrients. So feeding needs it to be "uniform" and nutrients need to be limiting. Soil grid testing is very helpful with this.

Higher hay fertility value this year since salt fertilizer costs have gone way up. Was $28 per ton grassy hay a couple years ago.
 

ClinchValley86

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I know it's worth a lot.

I use the Ruth stout gardening method on my raised beds. I apply hay as mulch 2 times a year. 8 to 12 inches thick each time. The soil is black and looks like cottage cheese. Other than the hay. My beds get zero inputs. Grows amazingly.

Read a while back that the average sized round bale has 45 dollars of nutrients inside. Going to assume thatd be a 4x5 or so.

That was 2015 prices I think.

This year probably 100 dollars per bale in nutrients.
 

Dave

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If you know the crude protein value of your it is easy to calculate the N. CP divided by 6.25 will give you the N. Example if you have middle of the road alfalfa that is 16% CP there is 160 pounds of CP per thousand pounds of hay.160 divided by 6.25 is 25.6. So there is 25.6 pounds of N per 1,000 pounds of hay. The higher the CP the higher the N. I know that one as I used it many times in my former job. P and K I would have to dig out the books.
 

kenny thomas

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I know it's worth a lot.

I use the Ruth stout gardening method on my raised beds. I apply hay as mulch 2 times a year. 8 to 12 inches thick each time. The soil is black and looks like cottage cheese. Other than the hay. My beds get zero inputs. Grows amazingly.

Read a while back that the average sized round bale has 45 dollars of nutrients inside. Going to assume thatd be a 4x5 or so.

That was 2015 prices I think.

This year probably 100 dollars per bale in nutrients.
So if I can buy 4x5 rolls for $18 I'm way ahead just in nutrients?
 

Rydero

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If you know the crude protein value of your it is easy to calculate the N. CP divided by 6.25 will give you the N. Example if you have middle of the road alfalfa that is 16% CP there is 160 pounds of CP per thousand pounds of hay.160 divided by 6.25 is 25.6. So there is 25.6 pounds of N per 1,000 pounds of hay. The higher the CP the higher the N. I know that one as I used it many times in my former job. P and K I would have to dig out the books.
Thank you for that info never knew how to calculate the N in a bale.

I was told for Phosphorus there's approximately 15lbs/ton of alfalfa hay.
 

Dave

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Ya, but, how uniform is the distribution of the nutrients, and how many get bound up in the soil, and how many leach...

Somewhat conservative folks assume 50 to 75% of the nutrients are usable.
There is a lot of the nutrients in organic from which need to be converted by the micros in the soil to plant available forms of the element. The same holds true with nutrients in manure. It is a slow release process which takes years to complete. Some forms of N volatilize or leach fairly easily. P generally sticks around unless the soil is saturated with it then it will leach. Good old K doesn't go anywhere. It stays put until taken up by a plant. But built up to too high of levels it can and will cause issues as the plants luxury consume the over abundant K.
 

BFE

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There is a lot of the nutrients in organic from which need to be converted by the micros in the soil to plant available forms of the element. The same holds true with nutrients in manure. It is a slow release process which takes years to complete. Some forms of N volatilize or leach fairly easily. P generally sticks around unless the soil is saturated with it then it will leach. Good old K doesn't go anywhere. It stays put until taken up by a plant. But built up to too high of levels it can and will cause issues as the plants luxury consume the over abundant K.
That also depends to some degree on soil type. Poorer soils around here don't build K like they should. Good bottom ground always tests high on P&K. In theory, the hills should be higher, same amount applied over the years, less crop taken off than bottoms, but it doesn't work that way.

That leads us to organic matter, the real game changer. Just like Clinch was saying about the garden, that's the real value of the hay. I feed hay in rings on the worst part of my corn stalk fields, and I can tell the difference the following year to the bean crop. Unrolling will be better to spread nutrients, but feeding rings is more sudden for really poor spots. I do have to disc the ring spots which I don't like, I like no till for numerous reasons. Same principles are applied to feeding on pasture.
 

Lucky_P

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When we unrolled, there was almost zero waste - we 'limit-fed' - only gave the cows what they could eat in a 2 hr period. Only if it was really muddy did any hay remain in/on the soil, other than in the form of manure.
 

Dave

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That also depends to some degree on soil type. Poorer soils around here don't build K like they should. Good bottom ground always tests high on P&K. In theory, the hills should be higher, same amount applied over the years, less crop taken off than bottoms, but it doesn't work that way.
If the K isn't building up take a look at other elements. As I said if K gets too high the plants will luxury consume it causing issues. The reverse is also true. If there is a shortage of other elements the plants will simply take up any available K. Calcium and Magnesium are the two biggest ones involved in getting this balance correct.
Soil type can be huge in regard to P. The ability to hold P is dependent on a lot of things in the soil. Once all those sites are full the P won't attach itself and can or will leach away.
 

BFE

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It's odd, I've done tissue tests on corn, the only thing consistently low was boron. They don't always add up to the soil tests.
 

Stocker Steve

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N, S, B all leach pretty easily. K will also move in light soils.

Measure OM is a little tricky. Some is stable long term stuff but most is not. Some grazing expert wannabes claim to increase OM several percent per year, but I think they are including (hay) litter in their samples.

Tissue tests are an indicator of how plant available your nutrients are. Temp, moisiture, ph, horizontal placement, depth, all matter.
 

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