ag copy-decker hay expo

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

WESTGATE, Iowa — Top Deck Holsteins hosted the Farm Progress Hay Expo last week.

Barbara and Don Etcher, who milk 700 cows at Lovilia, came to the Hay Expo specifically to see Top Deck’s manure digester and solids separator.

"The digester was very interesting," Barbara said. "I’m not sure if we’ll do that. It costs a lot of money. We came to find out more."


Bill Hoey raises crops, beef cattle and finishes cattle near New Hampton. He was looking at equipment, but since he just bought a new baler he wasn’t buying anything.

"I’m interested in seeing what the different companies have to offer," Hoey said.

Overall, Hoey said, his crops are doing well.

"The first crop hay was a little short because of the frost we had in April, and the tonnage was down a little, but overall I was pleased, and things are looking good now."

Jake Theobald, Josh Buster, Kurt Van Nice and Van Nice’s sons Andrew, 5, and Grant, 3, came to the Hay Expo from Muscatine to watch the new equipment demonstrations.

"We’re looking to see how stuff runs," said Buster, who milks 80 cows and has 100 acres of hay with Theobald.

Van Nice custom harvests hay and also raises corn, soybeans and hay.

"A lot of machinery here is so huge that it’s only for the commercial operation," Van Nice said. "When I was 15, I came to the show and there was a new John Deere self-propelled chopper and everyone was amazed by that. Now I own one, so I guess things change."


Theobald, Buster and Van Nice said their first crop hay was terrible, about half of normal.

"We’ve had good rain but that April freeze hurt us," Van Nice said.

Brian Lang, Iowa State University Extension field specialist for crops, answered questions about how adding sulfur can improve yields on alfalfa grown on some silt loam and loam soils in northeast Iowa.

Lang said that if plant analysis shows a sulfur deficiency the amount of sulfur fertilization recommended is usually 20 to 30 pounds per acre.

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