Research from MU field days saves farm time, adds profits

By: 
Duane Dailey

To workers, time amounts to dollars. As I age, time shrinks as my stamina drops. Time gains value.

Walking my ag beat on campus, I find extension specialists have less time to tell their stories. There seem to be fewer workers to cover more topics.

A common complaint: I’m working on grant applications to fund my research. Their research findings help farmers. Also, specialists seem to write more reports answering bureaucratic requests.

In a brief visit with a new state specialist this week, I learned about Missouri farmers’ needs. He talks with farmers, answering questions. He says farmers want to cut time spent farming. They want to save time to do more.

To gain attention, our stories should tell of improved efficiency. Many farmers also have outside jobs to help make ends meet. That’s not how farming should be.

 I hope farmers save some time to attend coming MU Field Days at research farms. Some good ones are ahead.

On Sept 10, MU Forage Systems Research Center, Linneus, Mo., will tell among many topics about grazing. Field days let farmers hear research with results beginning to show. Guidesheets will come later.

 Harley Naumann, MU research agronomist, uses sunn hemp to fill a summer growth slump on fescue. First off, this is not that kinda Hemp. (Fiber Hemp grows elsewhere at FSRC. It’s on the tour.) Harley’s hemp is a warm-season legume. No-till planted into fescue pastures, it adds gains. Maybe best, it’s a legume adding nitrogen.

Natural nitrogen saves time in adding fertilizer. The N feeds grass and boosts grass growth and quality. By grazing feeder calves, he learned management. Those methods save farmers’ time as well.

It’s not secret, but the story hasn’t been printed. Attending farmers get first looks.

Eric Bailey, MU nutritionist, has studies on how to reduce damage done by toxic tall fescue. His research at MU Southwest Center has cut fescue alkaloids, the toxin, in half. That doubled calf gains. That saves time in raising calves.

Eric comes from the dry Southwestern states. He brings useful management ideas to Missouri. His controlled burns on fescue removed seed heads. Fire boosts quality.

Allison Meyers, MU beef nutritionist, did intensive research at MU South Farm to improve calf growth. No one had studied cow diet influence on unborn calves.  Neglecting pregnant-cow feed harms calf growth after the birth. It makes sense. That study took lots of student time monitoring calves. With known results, farmers save time in calf care.

Jordan Thomas did his research at MU Thompson Farm, Spickard. He’ll share findings at FSRC. He works on timed breeding with artificial insemination on beef herds. That seems like extra work; but time savings at breeding and calving amaze farmers.

It’s a case of cutting time and boosting value. Sometimes, research brings results that leave farmers asking: Can that work? Believe it. But, first hear it at the field day, Tuesday, Sept. 10. FSRC tours start at 8:30 a.m.

A Thompson Farm Field Day will be at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24. That moved to late afternoon to attract farmers with day jobs. There’s more from Jordan Thomas on sexed-semen AI breeding. This will be new at the field day. More reports to come.

I see MU administrators at the Delta Center Field Day in the Bootheel, talked about Show-Me-Select Heifer Program research from Spickard. It adds millions to Missouri farm income.

There’s lots more at all fall field days. When those end, we start thinking about fall Show-Me-Select Heifer sales. Those are like field days on cattle breeding.

A surprise MU Delta report told of big research dollars to come. What about northern Missouri field days?

I’ll eat my spinach to see if I keep up with all the news.

I’ve worn out my laptop, now beyond its working life, writing time-saving stories. I’m told I’ll get a new “used” laptop to keep going. Send your ideas to duanedailey7@gmail.com. 

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