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As an Agriculture Extension Agent for Texas AgriLife Extension Service I have had an opportunity to be involved in just about every aspect of agriculture. From the 5,000 cow dairy to the types of trees to use in a home landscape I have had a chance to learn how the different parts of an agriculture systems work together. Seedless watermelons, drip irrigation, pecan orchard management, fruit crop development, dairy nutrient management, environmental issues confronting agriculture, producer tours, field days, research projects and more have been a part of my life for over 30 years as I lived and breathed agriculture. Since 2004 I have been actively involved in consulting internationally working in Honduras, Guatemala, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, India, and China. I have worked with missionaries and other groups dedicated to alleviating poverty among third world farmers. I lived in the Middle East in 2007-2008 working on a project for the Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University. In this project I was the Chief of Party and Team Leader for a $5.7 Million dollar effort to train Iraqi Extension agents and specialists in all aspects of agriculture.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ammoniating Hay Could Pay

Everyone knows that hay is at a premium but the hay you get is certainly not premium and this why I have had a few questions about ammoniating hay. Treating low quality hay with anhydrous ammonia improves hay quality and value by several means.
1. Ammoniating low quality hay increases digestibility by breaking down hay’s fibrous parts,
2. Ammoniated hay has increased animal intake 15% to 25% which means they do like it,
3. Anhydrous ammonia adds non-protein nitrogen which can be converted by rumen bacteria to protein as ammoniating hay increases crude protein,
4. There is an increase in hay protein and energy which along with increased intake means 35% to 45% increase in energy and protein consumption,
5. Anhydrous ammonia will preserve forage quality,
6. Ammoniating hay increases animal performance.
Ammoniating hay is simply done by covering the bales with black plastic and sealing the edges real good with soil, gravel or even tires. Once covered and sealed, apply the ammonia through hoses under the plastic. The ideal amount is 3% or about 60 lbs of ammonia per ton of hay. Your tank needs to have an accurate gauge so that you don’t over-apply. Apply the ammonia slowly, 1 to 5 minutes per ton, usually works. Keep the bales covered for 15 to 45 days depending on outside temperatures (59 to 86 degrees takes 1 to 4 weeks). When you are ready to feed uncover the bales for 3 days or more before feeding to allow any residual ammonia to escape.
Ammonia is harder to find now but is still available. The cost will knock you over till you understand that it is still the cheapest source of nitrogen. Always, always exercise extreme caution when use anhydrous ammonia because it can injure or even kill you.

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