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Time-saving techniques

Hawkins Field Day participants get up-close fencing demonstration, learn about the Co-op’s blending of GrazonNext® HL on dry fertilizer
Story and photos by Chris Villines 11/17/2017

 

During a beef producer meeting held by Hawkins Farmers Cooperative at Rogersville’s Willow Oak Ranch on Oct. 17, Dow AgroSciences Senior Range & Pasture Specialist Jeff Clark stresses to attendees the benefits of applying Dow’s GrazonNext HL impregnated on dry fertilizer. Hawkins Farmers has begun blending the two products.
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When Hal Thurman saw the product bulletin from DowAgrosciences hit his desk earlier this year, the veteran Hawkins Farmers Cooperative outside salesman says a light bulb went off in his head.

The memo detailed how the impregnation of Dow’s GrazonNext® HL herbicide onto dry fertilizer was now a green-lighted practice in the state of Tennessee. The herbicide/fertilizer impregnation process had to be done at a commercial fertilizer facility properly equipped for this procedure, and the mixing and application equipment had to be dedicated for use only on grasslands.

“We had a blender that we used to use for application on tobacco, but since tobacco has mostly gone by the wayside that blender was just sitting there doing nothing,” says Hal. “To me, it was a no-brainer that we start using it again to impregnate the GrazonNext onto bulk fertilizer and offer another value-added service for our farmers.”

This new offering for Hawkins Farmers was one of the highlights of the information sharing and hands-on learning that occurred at the Co-op’s Beef Producer Field Day on Oct. 17. The afternoon began with a drop-in fencing demonstration conducted by Gallagher and Stay-Tuff at the store’s adjacent equipment lot.

Greene County cattleman Bill Reid and wife Amy made the trip over for the fencing demonstration, and both agreed it was time well spent.

“We are re-doing a farm we bought four years ago and need fencing around the area where we have all our panels set up,” explains Bill. “We want an area that doesn’t do what every other fence on our farm has done — fall down. I’ve already learned a ton today, and it’s nice to be able to ask questions during the process. These guys know what they’re talking about. It’s been excellent for us.”

At the completion of the fencing demonstration, the field day moved to nearby Willow Oak Ranch for the evening portion of the program. Following a meal and presentations on Co-op Beef Feeds and Pro-Lix Liquid Feed, the floor was turned over to Jeff Clark, Senior Range & Pasture Specialist for Dow AgroSciences, and Tennessee Farmers Cooperative agronomist Brett Jones to discuss the fertilizer impregnation process and ways to maximize the quality of pasture and hay grounds. Brett, who works the Middle Tennessee region for TFC, spoke from experience on fertilizer impregnation since Maury Farmers Cooperative began blending GrazonNext with bulk fertilizer earlier this year.

First and foremost, both presenters stressed the importance of soil testing.

“What’s the best way for us to know what’s in your field and what’s in your soil? By soil testing,” says Brett. “Without a soil test, we’re just guessing. If you just come to me and ask, ‘How much fertilizer do I need to put on my field?’ then there’s a lot of guessing going on without a soil test.”

“Soil fertility is so key that if you don’t have a good fertility management style in practice, you’re wasting your money with herbicide and a lot of other things,” adds Jeff. “So make sure you’re getting your soil samples done and getting that pH right and then let’s worry about weed management.”

Jeff shared the practicality and enhanced benefits of impregnating GrazonNext HL on dry fertilizer — applying both products in just one trip, fewer weather delays, reduced risk of drift, and no spray equipment needed, to name a few.

“A lot of people say that they’ll just fertilize their pastures and that will do the trick,” said Jeff. “But where does a lot of that fertilizer go? To the weeds. The weeds have to eat, too, and they’re going to grab as many nutrients out of the soil as the grass wants to. What if we went out with an herbicide alone? Well, that can increase your grass per acre by 131 percent, but using a herbicide and fertilizer together can increase it by 250 percent. I don’t know about you, but I’m in the cattle business, too, and if I can get 250 percent more and still watch my input costs, that’s a good thing.”

Brett showed the audience examples of a field in Middle Tennessee where the minimum use rate of 2.1 pints of GrazonNext was impregnated on 200 pounds of dry fertilizer per acre.

“Three days after we applied, you can already see how the buttercups are starting to wilt,” Brett said. “At four days, they’re getting even weaker. At 17 days, you can see the drastic difference it made. It’s something I was very impressed with when we put it out and looked at it.

“I definitely think it’s something you should consider with your fertility. You’ve got great opportunities going on in your hay field this spring. Going out and eliminating some of those weeds, you’ll get better production out of your hayfield. Applying the herbicide and fertilizer together is a very easy way to kill two birds with one stone.”

One Hawkins County producer who has already begun seeing good results by utilizing the one-time GrazonNext/fertilizer application is Ritchie Evans.

“It’s really worked on the black plankton,” says Ritchie, a Hawkins Farmers director who used the combination on a 28-acre hayfield. “I really got a good kill on it. The Co-op spread it for me. I thought we’d give it a whirl and see what happens. It’s really done a good job. It’s one less pass I have to make over the field. If I hadn’t been able to apply the GrazonNext on the fertilizer, I would’ve either had to rent or buy a sprayer and contend with the drift. You don’t have that with the impregnation process.”

 
 
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