A charter bus tour of successful forage and livestock farms occurred in LaGrange and Steuben Counties on August 27, 2018 was organized by the Indiana Forage Council. The tour entitled, “Excellent Forage Management Makes a Difference,” show cased four farms that are utilizing successful forage management systems and marketing methods of forage-fed livestock.
An emphasis on inputs and management strategies that have improved the profitability and sustainability of each farm visited was shared with attendees. At the Stan and Deb Notestine farm the emphasis was on the equipment used to harvest and transport hay they sell as a cash crop. They were very up-to-date with equipment used to be successful hay producers. The next stop was at Courtright Farms. Jim Courtright was one of the first in the state of Indiana to use management-intensive rotational grazing on his beef farm. One of the unique components of this stop was evaluating the fields with the use of a drone with the expertise of Bill Horan, Wells County Purdue University Extension Educator. Country Meadows Farm, a dairy cattle farm that utilizes center pivot irrigated high quality forages as pasture, was visited first after lunch. Bob, Debbie and Bryan Eash discussed how they fertilize the pasture through the center pivot irrigation system and how they monitor pasture growth in each pasture on a weekly schedule. The last farm visited was Lewis Century Stock Farms. Brian and Riley Lewis shared with attendees how they establish and harvest the high quality alfalfa that is fed as bale silage to their dairy cattle. A demonstration of a large square alfalfa hay bale being wrapped in plastic was demonstrated at this site.
Implementation of these systems and marketing methods will likely occur with some tour attendees based on results from a post-tour survey provided.