Green cereal field

Economic evaluation of double cropping winter annuals and corn

Alvaro Garcia

Maintaining acceptable profitability in an environmentally sustainable way are aims of most successful dairy farms. Economies of scale dictate that most farms add cows while either maintaining a similar land base or renting additional area. In order to accomplish this, it is imperative to maximize forage production from their current land base without increasing the environmental footprint.

Double cropping has been suggested as an alternative agricultural practice that reduces the environmental impact and increases forage yield per hectare. Small grain winter annuals, such as rye (Secale cereal L.), triticale (× Triticosecale), wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) can be double cropped with corn silage.

Increasing DM yields, and improving economic and environmental effects of the farm

Small grain winter annual cover crops are terminated before they reach maturity, double-cropped annuals on the other hand, are harvested as grain or preserved as silage. By doing this a double cropping system can increase the demands for nutrient cycling within the farm and reduce the inputs imported into the system. Double cropping can thus increase the profitability of the dairy enterprise by increasing yearly DM yields and improving the economic and environmental effects.

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Effects of water restrictions on dairy cows

Joaquín Ventura & Fernando Diaz

Water is one of the main nutrients for dairy cows. It contributes to body’s life-sustaining functions such as digestion, nutrients absorption, metabolism, excretion or temperature regulation.

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Concentrate supply in grazing-based automatic milking systems

Fernando Diaz

Automatic milking is very popular in intensive dairy production systems. The adoption of robotic milking in grazing-based systems is uncommon; however, recent research from New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland is showing that this technology can be implemented in these countries where grazing is a critical part of the production system. Longer distance to the robot makes the cows less motivated to go for milking, therefore, concentrate supply during milking plays a key role for attracting cows.

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Economic evaluation of double cropping in short growing season areas

Economic evaluation of double cropping in short growing season areas

Fernando Díaz

Besides reducing erosion and improving soil health, double cropping winter annuals as forage crops in combination with corn is a common practice for increasing total forage yield per unit area of land in locations with long growing season. This strategy; however, is riskier in short seasons areas in which yield of one or both crops may be negatively affected. A recent study published in Applied Animal Science reported an economic analysis of including a double cropping system on northern and western Pennsylvania dairies.

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