W. Allen Nipper, Coolman, Denise, Owens, William E., Blazier, Michael | 4/19/2005 10:29:01 PM
HOMER – Participants in the LSU AgCenter’s Hill Farm Research Station field day learned how to increase the value of their timber stands, how to reduce soil acidity and how to use improved sires without creating calving problems during the event held here last week.
Those were just some of the topics covered during the Oct. 14 field day that covered dairy and beef cattle, forages and forestry.
Dr. Michael Blazier, an LSU AgCenter researcher at the Hill Farm Research Station, told participants how they can grow strong tree stands on soils that are low in nutrients.
"We have many forests here in the Ark-La-Tex region grown in soils that are low in nutrients," Blazier said. "This may be because of prior use of the soil or due to the geology of the soils. Whatever the case may be, landowners who wish to increase the value of their timber will want to increase the nutrient availability to their trees."
Increasing the nutrient availability to trees can be made through modest investments in management tools such as the use of fertilizers, herbicides and/or prescribed burning, Blazier said. The value of loblolly pine plantations as wildlife habitat can be increased by the use of understory control and fertilizer treatments, he said.
In addition to increasing soil nutrients, Blazier also talked about using good planting and thinning strategies to optimize the timber production of loblolly pine stands.
"Allowing crop trees to compete for nutrients, water and light reduces yields of loblolly pine stands," he said. "The most inexpensive way to reduce pine-on-pine competition and to optimize sawtimber growth potential is to keep stand densities low enough to allow the trees to grow."
Planting fewer trees per acre allows the trees to grow without competition, Blazier pointed out.
"We found that keeping the stands between 100 and 200 trees per acre, between the ages of 21 and 31, optimizes tree growth within a stand," Blazier said. "The thinning schedule that provided the best sawtimber volumes and rates of return consisted of thinning the plots planted at 200 trees per acre down to 100 trees per acre at age 21. This is followed by thinning at age 26 and 31 down to 50 and 25 trees per acre."
In other reports during the field day, Dr. Bill Owens, a microbiologist in the LSU AgCenter’s mastitis lab at the Hill Farm Research Station, gave an update on the mycoplasma mastitis program. This program is a cooperative effort among the LSU AgCenter, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, dairy corporations, dairy producers and the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation.
"This is a statewide program designed to monitor the state’s dairies for mycoplasma mastitis along with other more common types of mastitis," Owens said, explaining the program, which started in March 2004, calls for monitoring all dairies in the state monthly for one year.
Under the program, bulk milk samples are collected and sent to the mastitis lab at the Hill Farm Research Station – where they are tested for mycoplasma and other forms of mastitis.
"So far, just five herds have tested positive for mycoplasma mastitis," Owens said, adding that it was first detected in Louisiana during 2003.
But mycoplasma mastitis is not a threat to humans, Owens stressed.
In addition to hearing about forestry studies at the research station, field day participants also heard about how new environmental regulations will affect forage producers, how soil tests should be used to determine lime and nutrient requirements, and how forage production from annual ryegrass differs depending on land preparation prior to planting.
Other topics at the field day included research on how the mating of crossbred cows to Simmental sires with high weaning weights does not result in increased problems with calving, the LSU AgCenter’s Master Cattle Producer program, how nitrate levels in the diet of cattle can affect reproduction and information about some of the most toxic plants to livestock in the area.
Michael Blazier at (318) 927-2578 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Owens at (318) 927-2578 or email@example.com
Allen Nipper at (318) 644-2662 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or email@example.com