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Improvements come with forage lab move

News Release Distributed 10/10/14

BATON ROUGE, La. – Beginning on October 15, all forages tested by the LSU AgCenter will have results coming from new, high-tech equipment on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.

The forage testing lab’s move from the Southeast Research Station in Franklinton will mean forage samples from cattlemen, hay producers and others will be analyzed on some of the latest technological equipment available, according to Kun-Jun Han, LSU AgCenter agronomist.

“Our analysis basically measures the nutrient value of the forage, such as crude protein and digestibility,” said Han.

This information is vital to dairy farmers, who need to know exactly what they are feeding in order to maximize production, Han said.

In addition to Han’s work as a researcher supporting the forage testing lab, LSU AgCenter forage specialist Ed Twidwell works closely with Han to distribute the results.

“I do a lot of work with the county agents as well as with the producers,” Twidwell said. “Since the dairy farmers rely most on the tests, that’s where most of our work is done.”

Twidwell said forage testing is analogous to soil testing, because producers can’t afford to involve guesswork in either.

Currently beef and hay producers are next behind dairy farmers using the lab, while many horse owners rely more on visual characteristics than forage test results, Twidwell said.

“For horse owners, they are mainly interested in nice, green hay that is free of dust, mold and weeds,” Twidwell said. “If you can give them that product, then they are fine.”

Twidwell said he hopes that more horse owners will take advantage of the forage testing lab in the future.

Han said he has noticed an increase in beef producers using the forage lab in recent years.

Twidwell said because his job is to interpret the test results, he sees testing as a good teaching tool.

“If a grower finds that his hay is testing lower in quality than he had expected, it gives me an opportunity to show him what may help improve that quality,” Twidwell said. “It may involve their fertilizer program, or it may be that they need to cut a week or two earlier.”

Since October 1982, the forage testing lab in Franklinton has been providing information to help beef, dairy and hay producers make wise decisions.

Users of the lab increased 10 years later in 1992 when the Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, and their producers and researchers began sending their samples to be analyzed at the AgCenter lab.

“The current price for producers to have their forage analyzed is $15 for a standard analysis and $20 for the standard plus mineral analysis” Han said.

Forage samples can now be sent to SPESS-STPAL, 125 M.B. Sturgis Hall, 101 LSU Union Square, Baton Rouge, LA 70803. Producers in the Franklinton area can still drop samples off at the Southeast Research Station.

For additional information about forage samples, contact Kun-Jun Han at 225-578-2110.

Johnny Morgan

Last Updated: 10/10/2014 8:59:26 AM

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