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Intercropping Brings Unexpected Results & Record Cattle Death Loses for Livestock Indemnity Program

County Agent News

Dan Folske

February 18, 2019

 

Intercropping Brings Unexpected Results

The Annual Burke County Ag Improvement meeting held last week had several speakers talking about intercropping.  Intercropping is the practice of planting two cash crops in the same field at the same time and then harvesting them together hoping for a resulting synergism where one crop helps the other to give a better return on investment than either one grown alone.

            Two common mixes are flax and lentils, and peas and canola. The theory is that each crop in a mix thrives in the soil and moisture level areas of a field best suited to that particular species. Another theory is a symbiotic relationship with the roots and associated microbes and fungi of one plant helping to make nutrients moreIntercroppping available for the other. Avery visible physical benefit to both of the previously mentioned mixed is the ability of the lentils and peas to use their “partner” crops as scaffolds to climb on. This means that the pea pods and lentil pods are farther off the ground making for much easier harvest and less risk of running a rock through your combine.

            Sometimes these mixes yield a surprising result. In the instance of flax and chickpeas, producers often see a dramatic reduction in disease levels in the chickpeas. In areas where producers sometimes make three fungicide applications to reduce disease in chickpea fileds there have been observations of chickpea flax intercrop fields having lower disease levels without any fungicide than the fields of just chickpeas grown right alongside.

One of the biggest difficulties with any of these mixes is planting a large seeded crop together with a small seeded crop. At what seeding depth do you plant? Some air seeders have openers which are designed to place fertilizer slightly off to the side and deeper than the crop. These work well to plant the larger seed through the fertilizer opining. Another option is to change hoses around so you are planting alternate rows of each crop. Getting the right mix ratios and corresponding crop emergence is one of the most difficult and important aspects of intercropping. Too much of one crop can become a weed for the other. Having the mix ratio correct is especially important when one crop is of much higher value than the other.

 

Record Cattle Death Loses for Livestock Indemnity Program

Although the early part of the winter was pretty easy, February seems to be making up for it. NDSU Specialists Karl Hoppe, John Dhuyvetter , and Bryon Parman provide some information about the Livestock Indemnity Program and keeping your stock healthy through bad weather.

calfNorth Dakota cattle producers need to record deaths in their cow herds because those records may help them recover part of the cost of those losses through the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), North Dakota State University Extension specialists say.

The LIP provides benefits to eligible livestock owners or contract growers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality resulting from conditions such as adverse weather, diseases and predator attacks.

However, the occurrence of an eligible loss condition does not automatically trigger benefit payments. The livestock owner or contract grower must provide evidence of that eligible loss, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency, which administers the LIP. "Transient weather changes usually are endured by well-fed livestock," says Karl Hoppe, Extension livestock systems specialist at the Carrington Research Extension Center. "Cattle seem to handle two or three days of subzero weather without issues. However, extended cold weather can challenge livestock."

Extreme cold weather is hitting North Dakota cow herds hard this year. The North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) reported that from Jan. 1 to Feb.10, Carrington, N.D., had a one-day low temperature of minus 40 F and six days with low temperatures of minus 20 F or lower.

"While actual temperatures have been brutal, cattle usually aren't housed in barns, and the wind chill is a better identifier of cold stress," says John Dhuyvetter, Extension livestock systems specialist at the North Central Research Extension Center near Minot, N.D.

The NDAWN weather station at Carrington recorded five days of wind chills of minus 40 or lower and 25 days of wind chills of minus 20 or lower between Jan. 1 and Feb. 10.

Windbreaks made of trees, barns, round hay bales and wooden or metal fences help reduce the effects of wind. Because the prevailing winds in North Dakota are from the northwest, most windbreaks are placed to provide relief from winds from that direction. Those windbreaks don't provide wind-chill relief from winds from the south, east or southeast.

"Creating more wind

Dhuyvetter says bedding can provide some relief from cold, and cows will seek bedded areas that aren't snow-laden.break is the solution, but that also may trap more snow," Hoppe notes.

Frozen waterers also can be a problem in cold weather. When waterers are frozen, cattle won't eat feed or will reduce their feed intake, Hoppe says.

Cattle require enough feed during the winter to meet their energy needs. A rule of thumb for feeding cattle in cold weather is to increase the feed energy (total digestible nutrients) provided by 1 percent for every degree of temperature drop below the cow's thermal neutral zone. For cows with a full winter hair coat, the lower critical temperature is an estimated 15 F.

"Death losses may occur despite extra efforts to feed, bed and create more shelter," says Bryon Parman, Extension agricultural finance specialist. "If death losses do occur, be sure to record the date, take a picture as proof and report the loss to the USDA Farm Service Agency for the Livestock Indemnity Program."

He adds: "Death losses above the expected yearly average can put significant financial strain on livestock producers. While the loss of a calf might cost a producer around $825 in lost revenue, the loss of an adult pregnant cow could exceed $2,000 each.

"Producers who do not take advantage of the program are then put at a disadvantage against those who do," he says. "Furthermore, weather affects each operation differently, and the LIP helps ensure producers remain competitive and able to continue operating though tough conditions."

Visit https://tinyurl.com/LivestockIndemnity-2018 for more information about the LIP program.

 

 

 

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