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February 2012 Archive for Ask an Agronomist

RSS By: Farm Journal Agronomists, Farm Journal

Have your agronomic questions answered by a Farm Journal agronomist. E-mail us directly at, and we’ll respond on this blog to provide an interactive dialogue.

Is It OK to Spread Ground-up Mesh on Pastures?

Feb 13, 2012


Question: Is It OK to Spread Ground-up Mesh on Pastures?
Answer: Recently, we heard from a farmer who was concerned about round hay bales that some folks choose to grind up for their cattle with the plastic mesh still on the bales. 
His questions: Will this turn the fields into a type of land fill, as the manure is spread on the fields? Will this plastic ever break down?
The farmer contacted the retailer who makes the mesh. Here’s what he learned and then shared with Farm Journal:
"The company said that in some cases cows have literally starved to death from the plastic getting wrapped up inside the animal. The mesh is not degradable and what does pass should not be hauled on to the fields. It is a very wide-spread practice. You can't hardly see the plastic once it's been ground, so the practice goes on in order to hold the bale together as it is put into the tub grinder and no one wants to take the time to remove the mesh. Our suspicion was correct, but until someone sees an adverse affect, or has a moral conviction, the practice will continue, but not on my farm."
Bottom line:  If you have been spreading ground-up plastic mesh from hay bales on your fields, you might want to reconsider this practice.  It sounds like a less-than-healthy option for hay-fed cattle or grazing cattle, and it also does not provide any benefit to soil structure. Please do yourself, your cattle and the environment a favor and remove the mesh from bales prior to feeding them.


What Would Cause Corn Ears to Split?

Feb 09, 2012


Question: Last year, we had a number of ears of corn that split. We are sending you a picture, so you can see what we’re talking about. What would cause this?
corn 1
Answer: I can’t tell you with 100 percent certainty what caused the ears to split like this, but there are only a couple of things I can think of that may have caused the problem. These split ears are pretty unusual and I would say that, most likely, they were caused by a genetic mutation. A second possibility would be a heavy stinkbug infestation. What occurs in that scenario is that in the early shoot, around V9, the stinkbugs pierce completely through the ear and cause an infection to occur. I have seen this type of stinkbug problem only once in 25 years, however.



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