cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussion, August, 2012

By Liz Bawden, Organic Dairy Producer, NODPA President

Added August 3, 2012. There was great interest in the technique involved in sprouting barley for fodder. A farmer sets out 80 pounds of barley seed each day in a hydroponic growing facility and harvests about 650 pounds of fodder (at 17% protein, 680 calories, and 92% digestibility). Cows receive 10 to 12 pounds of the barley fodder per day. There were many questions on when the fodder was at its nutritional peak. The farmer's suggested website said that the fodder reaches its peak nutrition 4 days after germination, and declines thereafter.

A producer asked for a good ratio for using 35% hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizer. A responding farmer said she uses it at a rate of one ounce per gallon as a teat spray and dairy sanitizer. Another producer related to the group that his milk inspector told him it is not an approved sanitizer because it is not effective against certain pathogens. A milk inspector on the list verified that hydrogen peroxide is not approved as an equipment sanitizer, but may be used as a teat spray. Paracetic acid (combination of hydrogen peroxide with acetic acid) is allowed as a sanitizer. Another producer suggested the use of electrolyzed water (approved in PA).

There was much discussion about the armyworms. One producer had them in a hay field, another producer had them in a pasture. Both immediately mowed the field, and the caterpillars ate the standing hay around the fence and seemed to disappear. Another producer had a small patch in his corn; the geese were attracted to feast on the caterpillars, and the damage seemed not to be spreading. He thought the area was small enough to hand spray.

The use of organically-approved insecticidal sprays was discussed. NOFA-NY compiled a list of approved substances that may be used on an infestation: these products include Entrust Naturalyte Insect Control from Dow Agro-Sciences, Monterey Garden Insect Spray (Spinosad) from Lawn and Garden Products, Pyganic Crop Protection 1.4 II and 5.0 II from Pyganic, Bull's Eye from Gardens Alive, TheraNeem from Organix South, Ahimsa Organic Neem Oil from the Ahimsa Alternative, and Dyna-Grow Neem Oil from Dyna-Grow Nutrition Solutions. As one farmer pointed out, spraying will not undo any damage, it is expensive, and will harm beneficial insects. So unless you can count on spraying early to control economic damage, it is not likely that it will pay to spray.

A farmer is working with an intern who wants to know where to go to learn all the "cutting edge" information about dairy and row crop organic production. One producer suggested looking backwards to the day when all farming was organic -- she suggested that old farming manuals and books from the early 1900's were valuable references. Another suggestion was the website eOrganic. It was suggested she might visit Alfred State College in NY or California State at Chico as they both have an organic dairy program. NODPA's publications and website were suggested. And it was also recommended that she simply "get out there and learn by doing".