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Forage Field Guide Belongs In Your PickupForage Field Guide Belongs In Your Pickup

Second edition released this year.

Tom Bechman 1

January 14, 2011

2 Min Read

Do you know what crown vetch looks like? Even if you could identify the plant, do you know what the seed looks like? Are you sure? Say you don't need to know? Don't be so sure. You may need to be able to identify it and separate it from a weed which you're trying to identify. Or you may find it where you don't want it and need to know its characteristics.

If you're a forage producer, you're in luck. After a long lapse, the Purdue Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center has released the Forage Field Guide, Second Edition. It is in the same pocket-size format as the popular Corn & Soybean Field Guide, and contains over 300 pages. It's also in color, and contains great pictures for identification of key forages grown in Indiana.

Maybe you're moving into paddock grazing and want to introduce a legume into your mixture. This guide will not only provide advice, but will help you identify the species from one another that might be part of the forage mix. If you're into pasture walks held frequently among dairymen and beef cattle producers utilizing forages for grazing, one of these books in everyone's shirt pocket ought to be mandatory equipment for participating in the event.

Suppose you want to establish Big Bluestem, a warm-season grass, on some wildlife ground you've entered into the WRP through your FSA office. On page 53 you'll find a picture of the mature grass, with a picture of the seed on page 154. You'll also learn that there are 145,300 seeds per pound! Compare that to approximately 3,000 soybean seeds per pound. You even get information on seeding dates, and a recommendation on seeding rate for this grass.

What if you have cattle on a new pasture and by night, they're exhibiting unusual symptoms. Page 79 describes in detail the symptoms for sweetclover poisoning. There are also descriptions for reactions to other forages which can be poisonous to certain species of animals.

The book is easy to obtain. Check to see if your local Extension office has any copies for sale. If not, then visit The Education Store on the Web for information on purchasing the guide. Find the store at:  www.the-educaitonstore.com.

You can also learn more about the Guide and the Diagnostic Training Center at:  www.agry.purdue.edu/dtc.  The Diagnostic Training Center often offers at least one day-long training session on forages and legumes each year.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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