Keith Johnson

132 articles by this author

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Mechanical conditioning the crop with rubber rollers (shown in picture) or steel rollers reduces hay drying time Harvest of cool-season perennial grasses and perennial legumes is beginning soon. Getting a standing forage crop that measures 75 percent moisture or more to a safe baling moisture of 18 to 20 percent moisture is “easier said than done”. Changing weather fronts pass through every third or fourth day making it a challenge to quickly dry hay. Research has shown that properly conditioning forage crops is the single most effective way to reduce curing time. Making the proper settings on your mower-conditioner will ensure the best economic return. When conditioning a forage crop, the goal should be to have 90 percent of the crop’s stems show some signs of a cracking or limpness. No more than 5 percent of the leaves should show signs of bruising or blackening from the conditioning process —[Read More…]


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Grazing Schools Provide an Opportunity for Hands-on and Visual Learning     WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – From the Indiana Forage Council and Purdue Extension, the Indiana Grazing School program returns this June. Livestock producers will have the opportunity to gain hands-on training in implementing improved grazing systems. The program is also hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. Topics to be covered include soil fertility, water delivery, fencing, grazing system options, animal health and plant identification. The program will offer two training sessions. The registration fee is $75 and covers the cost of management information and a meal and refreshments on the program’s second day. Additional attendees from the same operation can attend for a reduced $50 fee. Dates and locations for the Indiana Grazing School sessions are as follows: June 9-10, Southern Indiana Purdue Agricultural[Read More…]



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Many conversations I have about pastures with forage-livestock producers start with the question “What should I seed in my pasture?” Before that question should be addressed, the producer should first: define their objectives determine what types of livestock and classes within a livestock species will be grazing the pasture review soil data of the pasture on the “Web Soil Survey” sample soil and receive up-to-date soil test results develop a liming and fertilization plan if recommended by soil test inventory what currently is in a perennial pasture control problematic weeds, especially perennial weeds review crop rotation intervals of herbicides used the past two years consider source and quality of water evaluate whether the water source will reliably deliver water during dry weather determine what perimeter and interior fencing is needed to keep livestock in the pasture and paddocks think about whether hay storage or a corral will be in the[Read More…]



The Heart of America Grazing Conference will take place from February 20th to 21st, 2023, at the Ferdinand Community Center in Ferdinand, IN. Hosted by the Indiana Forage Council (IFC), with input from Purdue Extension, the annual event will feature forage and grazing experts from across the nation. Speakers will lead discussions on cutting-edge research in grazing, soil science, and grazing options with cattle and small ruminants, among other key topics. Keith Johnson, professor of agronomy at Purdue University, says “Participants will have the opportunity to interact with a team of presenters on what is needed to develop and put in place an effective grazing plan.” He continues, “Ways to improve grazing efficiency, how to develop and maintain healthy soil, and important recordkeeping items will be shared. There will be ample opportunity to interact with input providers at the tradeshow and to make connections with other attendees.” Highlighted speakers include[Read More…]



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Plants are around us no matter where you live. I am challenged with plant identification as an agriculturalist and enjoy learning to identify plants that are not in production agriculture, too. A week ago, I was with an Extension Educator and a producer to confirm weeds of concern in a pasture; we then were able to discuss best control options. An email request, including pictures, from a hay producer was shared this week with me. Undesired plants of yellow foxtail, barnyardgrass, and crabgrass were noted and one photo had horsenettle in it, a spreading broadleaf plant that has toxic properties. Too many of us learned how to identify poison ivy from the unfortunate contact we had with it on a hike or learned how to identify it from someone else that felt itchy discomfort. Some individuals have taken an interest in foraging out food resources in the great outdoors. They[Read More…]