Use of CropMaster-1 for the "Grass Farmer"

This is a "fun" article written by Al Morris. It covers some concepts in "Grass farming" and how CM1 is used for this function. We got at tickle out of reading it, hope you do too.


First of all, let's cover a few of the facts of nature (no, don't cover the kid's ears, we're talking about growin' grass.)

What do cattle eat? Grass! Well, forage really . This includes the classical grasses as well as legumes and forbs (Godzilla eats Toyotas, cattle eat Forbs? - Forbs are herbs other than grasses). Sure, some are on special high protein diets, most will get some type of supplements, and a few are fed beer and massaged every day over in Japan, but most cattle in the Cow/Calf and Stocker industries eat "grass". Where does grass come from? Even a city slicker knows: it grows! Ask millions of suburbanites every Saturday in the summer, sweating behind their lawnmower. Ya just can't stop it!

Why is grass important? Whether you're in the commercial cow / calf, breeding stock, or stocker sector of the cattle business, the objective of the "grass farming" business is converting this grass into "pounds of beef" (or venison and velvet, as the case may be).

The more efficiently you do this, the more profitable your business can be. Most ranchers will spend a good deal of time and effort selecting or developing the "right" traits in their cattle to make this process of conversion of grass to beef more efficient. Some ranchers stop there, paying little or no attention to the grass or forage that their cattle eat. Like I said, it just grows; ya' can't stop it. The more advanced "grass farmers" will also manage their forage production. They will rotate the animals from paddock to paddock, to let each pasture recover; they will add legumes or other types of vegetation to increase the quality of the forage; they may fertilize, spray weeds, irrigate or aerate the soil. In short they will "manage" the grass production.

Well managed grass production, coupled with well managed animal production has consistently lead to a more productive operation.

Although CropMaster-1 works great for row crops, alfalfa, orchards, etc., one of it's primary uses is forage management. CropMaster focuses on the "production" side of the grass farming business.

Here's what CropMaster can do for your "grass farming" business:

Like all our products, CropMaster interfaces with Quicken or other popular products for financial / expense tracking.

Like our other popular "production" oriented product, GameMaster, (and prior products specifically for cattle) there is a Bulletin Board for work scheduling and reminders (time to plant, time to fertilize, etc.) and an Inventory section for non crop related inventory (trucks, tractors, rakes, etc.).

Let's look at the Crop section of the program, and how the grass farmer would use it:

Land ID: This is for identifying each plot of land. To the grass farmer these are usually "units", "cells", "paddocks", or more simply, "pastures". You can keep track of the original cost and depreciation of the land in this screen.

Land Work: This is for keeping track of any work done on the land. Typically that would be terracing, pond building, leveling or other improvements for drainage or flood control. Also, brush clearing is a common activity in some areas. Grass farmers may also "plow" or "till", and occasionally some form of aeration activity is used. You'd keep a record of that work here. By the way, in CropMaster-1, all "activity" screens, like Land Work, you can keep track of the labor content involved in this activity. We used to call this the number of Man Days of work, but since we all know many times the tractor driver is of the feminine persuasion, we now refer to this in the "gender neutral" as Days Work.

Crop ID includes three basic parts - 1) The crop description, like "improved forage" or "Coastal bermuda" grass. 2) The season can be any of three "seasons" or years. The season of origination (when you started using it or when it was planted), the current year, or, if you know when you plan to stop using the crop (ie when the lease expires) From what we gather, most CropMaster-1 customers in the grass farming business are using the current year. 3) The Land ID where this crop can be found. For instance, if you had Coastal bermuda grass in 5 paddocks a list of where these paddocks are would be shown.

Crop Harvest: You could say the cattle "harvest" the grass. This screen is where you'd enter the date and number of AU (animal units) or simply the number of head on in this pasture to keep track of carrying capacity. That information could later be used to determine grazing days per acre.

Crop Sales: This section can be used for tracking grazing rental income, of if you produce hay for sale, those sales could be entered here.

Irrigation: Tracking rainfall is a common activity in all plant management processes. In grass farming occasional irrigation is also used. CropMaster-1's irrigation screen can track both. Rainfall history can assist you in planning.

Seed ID and Seed Application: One way to improve forage is to add diversity. When you plant a new land area or add additional varieties of forage, you would enter both the Seed ID (what type of seed, and any related details) and how you applied it (i.e., "broadcast" drill, etc.).

Chem ID and Chem Application: Fertilizing is a common practice for managing forage. A "Chemical" is anything that you apply to the crop or land. It can be soil conditioner like humic material , fertilizer, or lime; maybe pesticides to reduce nematodes or other pests, sometimes a herbicide to get rid of unwanted weeds. Tracking the effectivity of any applied material is good management. How else do you know if what you put on did any good? The complete Chemicals history will also help you in chemical selections decisions for compatibility.

The Status screen gives you a complete history on any crop, season, or land unit. These are some of the many ways you can use CropMaster-1.

If you are in the "grass farming" business, the managing and improvement of your forage can be an important step in increasing your productivity. Sure you can keep all this information on a little book in your shirt pocket, but what happens when you bend over to check a clump of grass, and the book falls in a cow pie? I sure hope that doesn't happen with your computer!

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