Cattle arrive at our farm around 600 lbs and are marketed at approximately 1200 lbs. During their stay at Blight Farms they receive a nutritious locally produced, fully mixed balanced diet. The ration includes corn silage, high moisture corn, minerals, and distillers grains.
Our operation is known as farrow to finish which means the pigs are born and raised on our farm. Piglets are born at about 5 lbs. and are marketed at 250 lbs. After being weaned they are fed various diets that are adapted to their growth stage. The main ingredients in each diet are corn, soybean meal, and minerals.
Our soils are generally light and stoney so in order to control runoff and erosion problems we have become a no-till farm. No-till means we avoid tilling fields in between crop rotations. The plant debris left in the field from the previous crop adds organic matter to the soil which helps maintain good soil structure, aeration, and water penetration.
The picture below illustrates the no-till concept. Corn stalks from last fall are still visible on the ground along with the leaves from this years soybean crop.
We have recently incorporated GPS as a tool to improve our planting and harvesting efficiency. Using GPS in combination with our farm equipment gives us the capability to draw a map of our fields and maintain better records regarding productivity and ground nutrient requirements.
Blight Farms has joined Michigan State University Extension in conducting an on-farm soil fertility trial. The purpose of the research is to reduce nutrient losses and erosion over winter and suppress weeds. Different combinations of turnips, radishes, rye and oats are pictured below showing the variation in test plots. Blight Farms hosted a field day explaining the ongoing trial. Ken Blight and MSU Extension Manure Nutrient Management Field Specialist Natalie Rector are seen talking about the plot in the first picture.
Nitrogen is a limiting factor in crop production and farmers seek ways to hold it in the soil, especially over winter. The cover crops are applied to wheat stubble in July along with hog manure. Along with holding nitrogen in the soil longer, the cover crops have allowed us to build the organic matter in the soil and help control weeds from harvest to the following spring. We have participated in a cover crop study for numerous years and have recently increased the amount of acres where cover crops are planted on our farm. An article written in the Corn and Soybean digest has more details and can be viewed at http://cornandsoybeandigest.com/seed/slurry-seeding-synergy-new-one-pass-system-combines-light-tillage-manure-application-cover-crop?page=1
The pictures below were taken in early spring. You can see the dead, mushy cover crop which we no-till planted to corn a couple months later.
Throughout the year we attend meetings, conferences, and seminars to add to our knowledge of current agricultural practices and managerial skills. The Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) is one program we participate in that focuses on a livestock operation's natural resource management while addressing livestock manure and organic matter disposal.
Blight Farms received its MAEAP verification in 2006! Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program or MAEAP is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and confirms the implementation of agricultural pollution prevention practices on a farm. MAEAP is a voluntary program that encourages land stewardship and seeks to identify and decrease environmental risks by the ag industry. In order to maintain verified status farms must continue following MAEAP guidelines even after the initial verifications has been reached. For more details regarding MAEAP please visit the MDARD website.