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Alkaloid management: What level of toxicity are you willing to accept in your pastures?

CM-MR-1-Alkaloid2aby Karl H. Kazaks

About 50 people gathered at the Weyers Cave Community Center on Nov. 20 to hear Dr. Joe Bouton ask, “What alkaloid levels are you willing to live with?”

It’s not a question commonly asked by farmers today, but Bouton hopes that in the future, testing for alkaloid levels will be as common as measuring forage for nutrients, protein and NDF.

Alkaloids are naturally occurring compounds produced by fungi, bacteria, plants and animals. Alkaloids can have medicinal properties. Morphine, caffeine and ephedrine are alkaloids. Some alkaloids are toxic to other organisms — for example, nicotine. Tobacco dust is an effective pesticide, if not used today as widely as it once was. [Read more…]

Horses coming in at the 50th Equine Affaire

CEW-MR-2-Equine affaire115by Laura Rodley

If Santa Claus was going to leave just one thing in a horse-lover’s stocking, since, of course, a live horse wouldn’t fit, it would be tickets to next year’s Equine Affaire. This year’s 50th Equine Affaire, held in Springfield, MA was a feast for the eyes with items to buy, from state-of-the-art saddles and horse vacations, to getting a chance to touch live horses over in the Breed Pavilion. Attendees could take notes during presentations by Pat Parelli, Jim Masterson, Karen Daley and Mark Rashid among many others, and in the evening, had the opportunity to watch horses perform during Fantasia. [Read more…]

A great grain alternative

CM-MR-2-Milo3110by Sally Colby

Milo, also known as grain sorghum, is grown widely throughout the Midwest and used in livestock rations. It’s not as popular in the Northeast, but some farmers are giving it a second look.

Milo belongs to the same botanical family as corn, and has a similar upright habit. It has a higher protein level than corn, but is lower in fat and vitamin A. Prior to the 1940s, grain sorghum grew to five to seven feet, which meant problems at harvest time. Modern grain sorghums have dwarfing genes and reach between two and four feet at maturity. [Read more…]

WOTUS: Where every molecule of water can earn a fine

CEW-MR-1-WOTUS1240by Steve Wagner

Welcome to the wonderful world of WOTUS. That acronym stands for Waters of the United States. As is often necessary, political outrage spawns acronyms because the term in question is likely to be around for a long time and is thus easier to reference. [Read more…]