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Worth of your food plot

Do you know what your food plot is worth?

So many food plotters don’t understand the nutrition value and production yield of the forages that they are planting. Today, I will discuss a tool that I have used for over 20 years to determine “value” of various forages, grains and commodities. The program is called feed Val. Feed Val was launched in the 90’s by the University of Wisconsin. You input current pricing for soybean meal, corn, calcium and phosphorous. Those current values are put into an equation to determine price per ton.

I attached a picture showing various forages and corn to show a value of each of these items. I used actual sample data from 2016 from my educational plot. I used current values of $3.15 per bushel of corn, $340 per ton of soybean meal, $10 per 100 of calcium and $33 per 100 pounds of dicalcium phosphate. I also adjusted all forages and feeds to 15% moisture to compare apples to apples.

When you look at the chart, you will see a value for Ladino clover of $202.84 per ton, radish $230.61 per ton, $145.12 for forage oats.

Another thing many over look is yield. How many of you measure yields? One tool to measure is using a “square”. A square can be made yourself out of wood or other materials. It could be 12” by 12” which is a square foot. You take a scissors and clip the forages down to an effective grazing height which I use 6” from the ground. Take the contents in the “square” and weight the material. The multiply by 43,560 square feet per acre. This would give one the yield per acre.

Here is an example:

.50 lbs. forage in the square

X 43560 = 21.780 lbs. per acre.

If the forage is 75% moisture that would be (100-.75) .25 x 21,780= 5,445 pounds of dry matter per acre

Now compare yield and nutritional values. You want as much yield per acre as possible. Many fall brassicas and food plots produce around 4,000 lbs. of forage dry matter yield per acre. What is the added benefit if you grow a plot that yields 6,000 lbs. of forage per acre. That 1 ton of dry matter at around $180 per ton is way more than the price of the seed and fertilizer you buy.

For all of you who love oats. If you get 4,000 lbs. of dry matter yield from oats at a value of $145.12, compare it to growing a blend of forage turnips at $174.01 per acre, radish at $230.61 per acre or forage peas of $180.32 per acre. You would be between $19 and $85 per acre lower nutritional value per acre at the exact same yield levels.

The numbers may seem overwhelming to some of you but this is how consultants think and how farmers think when they are looking to make money and stay in business. Ask yourself, are you wanting ground cover, an attractant or maximum nutrition? If any of you have actual forage scissors cut samples for me to look at, I’ll input these values for you. If anyone is curious as to the value of their food plots, either send them to your local lab or I offer that service to people.

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