Economically Increasing Forage Production
If you’re in need of more hay or pasture land, your options are to:
- Purchase hay from another producer
- Buy or rent more hayland or pasture acres
- Rejuvenate the acres you’ve got through
- Chemical fertilizer,
- Organic fertilizer, and/or
- Incorporating legumes
- Re-establish acres by tilling and reseeding
Which option is the most economical?
We’ve conducted a review of past research on increasing forage production with a greater focus on hay production for winter feed. Here’s the highlights of what we found:
- Hay yields in Canada have been steady over the past 60 years; annual crops have had significant yield improvements.
- Nutrient deficiency in soil is one of the important factors limiting forage productivity in Canada.
- Yield response to fertilizer is unpredictable.
- The profitability of fertilizing forage crops is highly variable. Its feasibility depends on the cost of fertilizer, hay prices and land value.
- A cost effective way to increase forage yield is to add legume (alfalfa) to the mix. Management experience and use of available products prevent death losses from alfalfa related bloat.
- Bale grazing systems have the potential to improve soil nutrient levels, hay quality and forage yield.
- Research on forage varieties with higher yields and longer stand life is needed.
Learn more on our new webpage, Improving Forage Yields under Research >> Forage and Grasslands.
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