If you are scratching your head trying to figure out how to stretch forage supplies until spring grass, without culling a large number of animals you intended to keep, Barry Fisher has an idea he thinks can help.
Fisher is state agronomist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He's interested because at the same time, you get cover on the land over the winter. Depending on what you sow, you may also help hold some of the nutrition not used by the crop through winter.
The best part, Fisher says, is that you can qualify to do this and receive cost-share money through a combination of practices. It's a one year emergency situation, but it should be available in all counties. You can do it through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, and you need to sign up this week. Contact your local SWCD or NRCS office immediately.
You should be able to qualify for both the conservation cropping practice and annual forage practice, both eligible practices under the WHIP program. Indiana just received $3.5 million in extra emergency funds to help pay for practices under WHIP and other emergency options.
"We'll go after more money if we think we need it," says Jane Hardisty, head of NRCS in Indiana. "We're not bashful about asking. We like to bring as many dollars back to Indiana as we can.
What Fisher envisions is planting wheat or rye this fall. If you get enough rain to germinate the crop and get it up early enough, you can graze in the fall. Following guidelines so you leave the crop in shape to get through winter, you can graze next spring as well. Then you should be able to either cut and bale it as hay later next spring, or harvest it as grain.
"We really think it could help some people who need forage," Fisher concludes.