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Progressive Magazines

“Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it, because the dairy guys love your hay,” says hay broker.

by Leon Leavitt

On a land swap trade deal with a neighbor, this year Karl applied Bactifeed on 800 acres near Blackfoot that they have never farmed before. They disked this field and the neighbor’s farm directly across the road. Karl relates, “I couldn’t believe the difference in soil texture between the two acreages. Our ground was fine and mellow and his had big hard clods. I am going to work on him so when I get that land back in three years I’ll have the benefits there.”


Ideally most of their hay is baled at 13-15% moisture; however, if he has to, Karl has baled it a little wetter. He explains, “In my baling, it acts as a little preservative to have my hay a little wetter and it won’t burn up. We had a field that had been cut and it rained. When the hay was baled it probed at 18-20% moisture but the temperature was the same as the hay at 14-16%”.


Most all of his hay goes to the dairy market in Jerome, ID. I asked, “What do the buyers of your hay notice about it?”


Karl responded, “My hay broker says our hay is more palatable. He told me, ‘whatever you are doing, keep doing it, because the dairy guys love your hay.’”


The return on investment in Bactifeed application is paying obvious dividends to Karl in his haying operations. And he is very pleased with the results.

ROBERTS, IDAHO ~ Karl Cook had been a custom hay harvester for many years and finally decided that what he had been doing for others was something that he could do for himself. In 2001 he launched out on his own with two pivots and over the years has acquired additional ground as his six sons have been integrated into the growing enterprise. They are operating 2300 acres currently and are on the lookout for additional land.


Karl was well acquainted with the condition of the land, having harvested crops on it for the previous owners. He recounts, “There were places where the water run-off was terrible. In some spots the water wouldn’t penetrate at all. I had dead spots. There was a problem big-time on this ground and I knew it. We were running the pivots at 50-60% speed in order to get the water through.”

Then one day he read in Progressive Forage about some guys in Nevada who had similar problems and were solving them through the application of Bactifeed microbials. He made a phone call and decided that what they were doing was something he wanted to try on all of his fields.


He says, “I started using the microbial approach right from the start. I noticed changes slowly happening the first year and by the second and third year we eliminated water run- off completely. We got the water down where it needed to be and we now run the pivots at 12%.”

And as a benefit to increased water retention, the hay yield has increased from the five to six ton/acre range to seven ton/acre, with many fields as high as 7.5 tons/acre.

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