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Fertilizing a Hay Field

Arrow Durfee


Joined: Nov 01, 2012
Posts: 35
Now we are not into permaculture regarding this field, so I will start with that.

We planted a 3 acre hay field 3 seasons ago of alfalfa, timothy, brome and orchard grass and fertilized it with a well composted cow manure, organic, that we purchased by the semi truck load.
We have harvested the hay and sold it in small bales.
Our intent is to have a few head of cattle on it so we wont be cutting it then but until then we are cutting and selling to help pay for the fencing yet to be put up.

We are thinking that this spring we should fertilize again but Im looking for other solutions rather than using the organic composted cow manure as it is rather costly.
So Ive been considering using a liquid fertilizer of fish emmulsion that we can spray on.
Any opinions on this for a hay field? Anyone know how much to use per acre?

Also my neighbor cuts lawns and has access to lots of grass clippings that have never seen pesticides or herbicides. Im wondering if spreading a thin layer of this on would be helpful to provide biomass.


Thanks
Marc Troyka
volunteer

Joined: Jul 02, 2012
Posts: 356
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
    
  14
Eh, Alfalfa, timothy and orchard grass are all very poor forages. Prairie grasses, hybrid bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and maybe birdsfoot trefoil and/or vetch are better in general.

Grass clippings are definitely good for building up biomass. Fish emulsion is almost not organic, and a lot of the nutrient value is degraded by the processing. Fish meal and seaweed meal are better and less processed. Each should be used at ~500lbs/acre, ie 500lbs fish meal + 500lbs seaweed. Keep in mind that a good fertilization should last you 10 years, and using soil inoculant on your crops will improve your mileage.
Arrow Durfee


Joined: Nov 01, 2012
Posts: 35
So fish emmulsion not organic? is this because its coming from commercialized fish farms? didnt think of that. what else would make you say this?

What soil innoculant would you reccommend? this is all new to us.

the grasses we selected were what was recommended for our 6,000 ft altitude and general soil and dry conditions. Basically its what most of the ranchers use here.

this is what I was looking at... claims organic
http://www.neptunesharvest.com/fs-191.html
Marc Troyka
volunteer

Joined: Jul 02, 2012
Posts: 356
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
    
  14
Arrow Durfee wrote:So fish emmulsion not organic? is this because its coming from commercialized fish farms? didnt think of that. what else would make you say this?


No, it's because they use chemicals and heat to break the fish down into a liquid. They also remove some of the fish parts so you lose valuable nutrients both from exclusion and destruction.

Arrow Durfee wrote:
What soil innoculant would you reccommend? this is all new to us.


Check this thread.

Arrow Durfee wrote:
the grasses we selected were what was recommended for our 6,000 ft altitude and general soil and dry conditions. Basically its what most of the ranchers use here.


6000ft might complicate things, but in general the grasses you listed are the same generic stuff that's planted in pastures everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Keep in mind that prairie grasses (and hybrid bluegrass) all grow 10ft deep roots and are extremely drought tolerant. The prairie shortgrasses are more drought tolerant than tallgrasses, but it depends on just how dry your climate is in general. That aside, my main complaint about the grasses you listed (and alfalfa) is that they're all poor nutritionally, especially timothy.

Of course, you don't have to replant, but it's better if you inoculate seeds rather than established plants. It's boring doing what everyone else is doing anyway .
Arrow Durfee


Joined: Nov 01, 2012
Posts: 35
Guess I will call them. They claim their product is organic so how could they use chemicals to break it down and maintain and organic certification?
As far as heat goes, compost piles cook pretty regularly. I'll ask them to what degree they go.

I will look into the grases you mention.
Marc Troyka
volunteer

Joined: Jul 02, 2012
Posts: 356
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
    
  14
I decided to look it up, and what they use is phosphoric acid, to lower the pH. If you compare the NPK of fish emulsion to fish meal, the fish meal is higher though. I'm not really sure why phosphoric acid is allowed in fish emulsion, considering that it's a soluble form of P like chemical fertilizer.
Fish Meal: 10-6-2
Fish Emulsion: 5-2-2
Fish Hydrolysate: 4-2-2
(approx)
Source: Colorodo State
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6495
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
I'm not really sure why phosphoric acid is allowed in fish emulsion


And I'm not sure why phosphoric acid is allowed in cola drinks. Coke, Pepsi, etal.

If the cans were not lined, it would eat through the thin aluminum in a few days!

Great rust remover though.
Phosphoric acid will turn iron oxide into iron phosphate. Not so sure that's what one wants in his soil.
(We used to use several 5 gallon carboys of it each trip on merchant fleet ships)

Perhaps that is why I prefer my (good) rum 'neat'. What the H...Cuba isn't 'libre' anyway.

Arrow Durfee


Joined: Nov 01, 2012
Posts: 35
Actually the product Im looking at isnt fish emulsion at all, its Fish Hydrolylate! .. and this is what that paper from Colorado State says about it... I didnt know the difference between the two. With the enzyme action looks like it would be a preferred product over the other.

Enzymatically Digested Hydrolyzed Liquid Fish
Enzymatically digested hydrolyzed liquid fish have used enzymes to digest the
nutrients from fish wastes instead of using heat and acids. This retains more of the
proteins, enzymes, vitamins and micronutrients than emulsions.
Enzymatically Digested Hydrolyzed Liquid Fish
Typical NPK analysis 4-2-2
Release time 1 – 4 months
Pros More nutrients than emulsions
Cons More expensive than emulsions
Application
Hanley Kale-Grinder


Joined: Sep 30, 2011
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
    
    1
Get the soil tested!

The results will tell you exactly which minerals to add and in what quantity. Just guessing at an amendment could do more harm than good unless it is stabilized compost.

I would also consider brewing a few big batches of aerobic compost tea and anaerobic EM to inoculate the soil with beneficial micorbes.

Good luck!!!
 
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