The Manager - March 2024

Alf Advisor: A program to assist with alfalfa harvest management decisions 

Jerry Cherney, Zhou Zhang, Jinha Jung, Paul Mitchell, and Matthew Digman

Timing of alfalfa cutting is a critical management practice to maximize yield potential, quality, and profitability. The University of Wisconsin, Purdue University, and Cornell University are developing a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded web program, Alfadvisor, which will provide alfalfa growers with economically optimum harvest recommendations. The platform will estimate alfalfa growth and quality changes, drying rates, and weather-related risks incurred during harvest. The online platform will provide easy-to-use tools to assess different cutting options and develop plans to best satisfy each grower's risk preferences. 

Do optimized forage sampling and monitoring protocols benefit the productivity and efficiency of dairy farms?

Jorge Barrientos-Blanco and Kristan Reed 

Failure to detect and intervene in feed composition changes during the production and delivery of dairy cattle diets increases the uncertainty of the nutrients actually delivered which, in turn, increases the risk of underfeeding or overfeeding cows. 

Karl Czymmek returns to PRO-DAIRY as Dairy Climate Leadership specialist

Julie Berry

PRO-DAIRY has hired Karl Czymmek for a newly created Dairy Climate Leadership specialist position. Czymmek will have statewide responsibilities in climate leadership and greenhouse gas reduction strategies for the dairy industry, contributing to New York state's overall goals for greenhouse gas reduction. 

Managing forage in the face of more frequent extreme weather events 

Joe Lawrence

The list of notable weather events in 2023 is long and varied - from drought conditions in parts of the Midwest, to extreme flooding in portions of New England, to smoky skies from Canadian wildfires. Stepping back from the seasons' weather, to larger climate trends, 2023 set a new global record for the warmest year, and rainfall patterns continue to become more extreme. In the last decade, the Northeast Regional Climate Center has shared data that the occurrence of very heavy precipitation events is up 71 percent from its baseline in 1958. While the Northeast has experienced the most drastic changes in occurrence of these extreme precipitation events, the data shows that all areas of the continental U.S. are experiencing an increase in these events. 

Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth and tall waterhemp in Northeast-A new frontier

Vipan Kumar

Two new pigweed species including Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri S. Watson) and tall waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus (Moq.) Sauer), which are commonly found in midwestern and southern United States, have been identified recently in the Northeastern (NE) region. These two pigweed species are considered highly problematic in other U.S. regions and can cause significant grain yield losses in various field crops. Some of these newly invaded populations of Palmer amaranth and tall waterhemp in the NE region have also been found resistant to glyphosate. Rapid spread of these new pigweed species with evolved resistance to glyphosate can pose a serious management challenge for producers in the NE region. 

Patterson Farms: Managing manure for efficiency and productivity 

Kirsten Workman

Jon and Julie Patterson are the sixth generation to own and operate Patterson Farms Inc. Their dairy farm is in the heart of the Finger Lakes in Cayuga County, New York where they milk 1,800 cows and crop over 3,000 acres. The farm's core values of Safety, Animal Care, Integrity, and the Environment are lived every day by Jon, Julie, and the farm crew, both on the farm and in the community. While they manage their crops, their cows, and their employees with equal diligence, their manure history tells a story that is indicative of their farm and the progress they've made over the last 194 years! 

Land use considerations and solar development

Joe Lawrence

Solar energy production is being rapidly deployed across the U.S. in a transition to cleaner energy sources. Advancements in solar technology have significantly increased its efficiency in recent decades and more advances are on the horizon. Despite this trend, solar still requires a great deal of land per megawatt (MW) of energy produced, which has presented significant competition to crop production in many agricultural areas. 

What is the value of your dairy farm's environmental footprint?

Olivia Godber and Quirine Ketterings 

The U.S. dairy industry is under growing pressure to meet environmental stewardship goals and expectations set by policy makers, dairy processors, retailers, and consumers. This growing pressure offers challenges but also great opportunities, which are both starting to impact the market competitivity of dairy. Many sustainability tools have and will continue to be developed. Key to selection of tools is to know how well they reflect the farm, field, crop, manure, and herd management practices.