Dairy farmer changes crop plans with great success

A Wisconsin dairy farmer changed his crop rotations, his forage choices, and how he manages the land with great success.

Joe Bragger tells Brownfield, “Our pregnancy rates, our milk production, everything is improving. There’s always another way to do things.”

Bragger farms near Independence not far from the Mississippi River in Buffalo County. “Following last year’s corn silage, we put in triticale, harvested it this spring, then right at the end of May terminated it, planted a four-way dairy cocktail that has the energy equivalent of corn silage, and in some cases, we’re getting even better digestibility.”

He also says making the switch from alfalfa to a mixed forage cocktail has several advantages. “Sudan sorghum BMR, there’s vetch in there, there’s clover in there, and there’s the annual rye. And so, you look at those two legumes I’ve got in there and if I were to go back to subsequent corn silage again next year, that would be my cover crop going into there and also a nitrogen feeder.”

Bragger uses no-till for his row crops on the very hilly ground, avoids planting near tree lines, and his healthier soil is allowing less than 2% of the annual precipitation to leave the farm in the form of runoff. He says the end result is healthier soil, better water retention, better feed production, improved milk production, and a better bottom line.

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