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Last summer while making farm calls on some of the best farms with hay producers in my area, I decided to ask each farmer what was the most important thing or things that made them stand out. What made the difference for them compared to their friends and neighbors? While each of them humbly said they weren’t really qualified to answer, that was just the answer I expected since each of them are really good at what they do. They still didn’t have all the answers. They knew that there’s always something that can be done to improve their operation, no matter how good you are.
You might ask yourself the same question about what can be done to improve the quality of forages from your operation. The answer isn’t an either/or answer, but an overall attitude about the jobs that are done each and every day. For those producers that excel, the difference is the ability to pay attention to detail.
Paying attention to the details is essential in every part of the process to have the potential for high quality forages. It starts with good planning and follow-through for all phases of production. Stand establishment, good soil fertility, harvesting at the right time, correct storing of forage and proper feedout all need attention to detail. If poor planning and follow-through occurs at any of the stages, the result is often poor quality forage. Once the window of opportunity is past, you can’t go back and change the outcome.
My encouragement for all forage producers is to take the time to plan for the new crop year and list the top areas that need improvement. What changes can be made to make incremental changes? Write them down, keep them in front of you during the year and make a conscious effort to improve. Even small changes can have a dramatic effect on the bottom line.
Source: Michigan State University Extension
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