It keeps coming up at meetings and when reviewing literature, where is the soil data or where is the forage quality data, or where is the crop production response, or where is the animal production response? While it is difficult and expensive to do good research that brings it all together, it is also hard to make a decision about a change in management or the response to a treatment if you don't know how it carries through the whole system. So the question is; how often are we bringing it all together?
- Differences in soil nutrient analysis changes how much nutrient corn silage takes up - but no reporting of corn silage fiber quality
- Fungicide application not producing a yield difference - but no reporting of fiber quality
- Recommendations for K or S applications - but no reporting of influence of applications on forage quality
- Recommendations for level of corn silage processing - but no reported relationship to milk production or quality
All of this is good and useful research, but without the next step of data we cannot know how it will really impact the overall performance of the farm.
On farms and in industry we often segment crop production, animal nutrition, and nutrient management. For overall farm profitability and environmental reasons bringing all this together can help to identify areas to focus on with management and if the crop production response we see is translating to an animal production response and then explore why or why not.
While there is more data than ever on farms for animal production measures (milk production, meat production, calving, ect.) and crop management (yields, maps, and application records) it is often not looked at together and software is not designed to have it in one place.
Here at Dairy One we are working on ways to bring the data together and doing projects that bring more of the data together. After all what good is a crop production response if it negatively impacts milk or meat production?