2012-07-31 / Front Page

Purdue Extension Corner

Testing For Nitrates In Standing Corn
by Ann Delchambre

The drought has forced farmers and livestock producers to consider all options for their crops and livestock. One option is to utilize their drought stressed crops by turning them into silage for cattle or other ruminants. Turning drought stressed crops into silage could be an option to help offset the rising cost of feeds and hay this year for livestock producers. We have to be aware that when corn, sorghum or millet is drought stressed it can contain high levels of nitrates. High levels of nitrates can have serious effects on livestock health and may even cause death. About 5000 parts per million of nitrates and under is considered to be safe to feed cattle. Over 5000 parts of nitrates per million means that you will have to mix lower nitrate feeds with the higher nitrate silage to obtain a safe feed.

There are two types of testing that can be done to assess the nitrates in feed. The first is a quick test. The second is a quantitative evaluation. The quick test can be used to determine the presence of nitrates in the stalks of corn, sorghum and millet on standing crops prior to harvest. The quantitative evaluation has to be done by a certified lab and can be done on silage.

Putnam County Extension in partnership with Clay and Owen County Extensions will be offering a free Nitrates Quick Test at the Putnam County Fairgrounds on Aug. 15, from 6-8pm. There will be information about feeding high nitrate rations to cattle. If you choose to send a sample for a quantitative evaluation there will be a chipper shedder on site to reduce the particle size and facilitate quicker processing by the certified lab. You will have to pay the certified lab shipping and testing fees.

To participate in a Nitrates Quick Test, bring your stalks to be tested to the Putnam County Fairgrounds. If high nitrates are found then we can prepare the sample to be sent for quantitative evaluation. For the quantitative evaluation it is recommended that you have 25 stalks as a representative sample of the field. If your fields have a lot of variation, bring 25 stalks from each of the poor, average, and best areas of the field. We will have a chipper shredder on hand to prepare samples to be sent to a certified lab. Purdue has negotiated a discounted price for nitrate testing with A&L Great Lakes Laboratories. The price for the Nitrate Analysis Test is $15, and a Basic Nutrient Analysis Test is $18. The prices are good only on Purdue Extension prepared, submitted samples and will not apply to any other laboratories or tests.

This is a great opportunity. Take advantage of some free testing and discount prices on testing. I hope to see you there. If you have any questions please contact Ann Delchambre at 765-653-8411 or Jenna Smith at 812-829- 5020 or 812-448-9041

August 1 - 4-H My Record of Achievement Help Session, Extension Office, 6:30 pm

August 6 - National Night Out, Robe Ann Park, 5 pm

August 16 - Organic Variety Selection and Seed Saving Workshop Purdue University

August 15 - Nitrate Testing Putnam County Fair Grounds Goat Barn 6-8 pm

August 21 - Cover Crop and No-Till PARP Rockville, IN

August 22 - Master Gardener Classes Start Extension office 6:00 pm

August 24 - My Record of Achievement 4-H Form Due, Extension Office

Putnam County Extension is offering a Quick test of nitrate levels to determine if there are high in nitrates or not. This will allow us to be able to manage feeding high nitrate feed to our livestock better while eliminating or minimizing any health risk to the livestock.

To participate in this quick testing to determine whether or not your crop is high in nitrates.

First, this test done on standing crop

Second, take 25 stocks as a representative sample from each harvest area. Take three samples from the harvest area that represents the poorest, average and best areas.

Harvest talks about one inch from the ground.After the quick test has been completed you may want to get a more quantitative testing done by a certified laboratory

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