Monday, August 29, 2011

CRP ... No, Not CPR

Land in CRP

And now for your crash course in CRP. No, I'm not about to take over for the American Red Cross and teach you CPR (though that's a very good thing to know).

CRP is the Conservation Reserve Program. The program involves taking land out of agricultural production and planting it to native grasses and wildflowers. This helps prevent wind and water erosion and also enhances native wildlife populations. Most of the land that qualifies for CRP is less productive for agricultural crops anyway.

Usually, farmers can't graze cattle on CRP acres, and they can't harvest the native grasses. But this year, because of the extreme drought, the USDA has allowed emergency haying or grazing on part of the designated CRP acres. A neighbor asked Randy to custom swath and bale about 60 acres of CRP grass.

This is more action than our baler has gotten all summer long.

The resulting 180 bales will be used to feed cattle this winter. With the lack of rain this summer, alfalfa bales are going to be in short supply. The fields of silage have withered with the lack of rain, too, leaving cattlemen with few options for winter foodstuffs.

The CRP hay is much lower in nutrients and protein than alfalfa. It provides all the nutritional requirements for a non-lactating cow, but a cow nursing a baby calf would require additional supplements.

Maybe it's a little like comparing a home-cooked meal to a McDonald's Value Meal. But that bale of native hay will look mighty good this winter in the midst of a snowstorm.

1 comment:

  1. I know you guys have been particularly dry. I'm glad there is something for the livestock!