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2016 Projects: Calibration of Yield Monitors

Work with case study farms in central and western New York over the past five years has shown that great improvement can be made in nutrient use efficiency when detailed farm, feed, and field records are kept. Such progress, monitored using annual Nutrient Mass Balance (NMB) assessments can be made while maintaining or increasing milk production illustrating the potential for a win-win situation for farm profitability and environmental protection. To achieve the desired nutrient reductions and increased efficiencies accurate farm and field yield records are essential. Experience to date has shown that accurate yield records are the major bottleneck on many farms for diagnosing causes of high nutrient balances, identifying solutions, designing rotations that feed the cows in a sustainable way, and confidently managing nutrients on a field by field basis. Because home-grown forage and grain production impact all aspects of the farm (economics, nutrient use, environmental footprint, risk management, cost of production), without accurate yield records, it is nearly impossible to systematically measure progress at the field level, much less identify where the largest nutrient use efficiency gains can be made. Thus, accurate yield records are needed, not just to evaluate the Cornell yield potential database, but also to help farms to quicker achieve nutrient reductions. Initial funding to work with the three case study farms and corn fields was obtained from an USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant. Additional funding was obtained recently from NESARE (graduate student grant) to also evaluate alfalfa harvests and from New York Farm Viability Institute (yield monitor use for on-farm manure studies). This project is conducted in collaboration with Agrinetix and New York case study farms (more detailed assessments). If interested in sponsoring expansion of this project or participating in it, contact Quirine Ketterings at qmk2@cornell.edu.

If you would like to receive more information or have questions, contact Emmaline Long (eal93@cornell.edu or 585-813-7228) or Quirine Ketterings (qmk2@cornell.edu or 607-255-3061). You can also write to: Quirine Ketterings, Nutrient Management Spear Program, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, 323 Morrison Hall, Ithaca NY 14853.