Good silage sampling means money in your pocket, no penalties
By Betsy Karle
UCCE Glenn & Tehama counties
By now, Central Valley dairy producers are well aware that samples of each silage harvest are required for compliance with the General Order of Waste Discharge Requirements.But, are you certain you are taking samples properly to get the most accurate data, ensuring your Nutrient Budget is a functional working document?
Your sampling and analysis plan lays out exactly how you will take your samples. As you progress through corn silage harvest, here are some important points to remember:
1) Your sampling and analysis plan lays out how you will gather information to fine-tune your nutrient applications – use it!
2) Percent moisture is required for all forage samples. If percent moisture is incorrect because representative samples were not taken, the total dry matter harvested will be wrong, and the total nutrient harvested will reflect this error. Moisture varies greatly within a single field. Use sub-sampling as explained in the forage sampling protocol to obtain a representative sample.
3) Monitoring requirements have changed since last year. Harvests need to be quantified in tons; cubic yards are no longer acceptable. Required lab analyses now include fixed solids (ash), total phosphorus and total potassium (total nitrogen analysis remains the same). Be sure your lab is analyzing for the right elements.
To get the best crop and avoid unwanted regulatory attention, it is in your best interest to get good, representative samples now to fine tune your nutrient application timing and quantity. Using good information to grow a quality crop and avoid regulatory penalties is money in your pocket.