Wheat harvest is now complete in Central Kansas and finishing up across the remainder of the state. The wheat is now at the elevator and on its way to flour mills and other processing facilities to be turned into food to feed the world. But the second part of the harvest is still sitting in the fields, waiting to be utilized.
With yields coming in better than expected, my husband made the decision to purchase a new baler to bale the straw left from harvest. The combine cuts the head of the plant but leaves the straw – which is six inches to nearly one foot tall. The baler can then follow through the field and cut and bale that straw for future use.
We created more than 600 bales from wheat straw this year and will use those bales this winter. The straw will make up about 7 percent of the feed rations for our cattle and will also be laid on the ground for our animals to use as bedding and protection from the cold and snow.
The idea of using wheat straw is nothing new for the farming world. This year Pacific Ag Solutions (http://www.pacagsol.com/index.php) out of Oregon followed the combines into Kansas and contracted with Kansas farmers to bale thousands of acres of wheat straw. Dozens of mountains of small, square bales sit in fields throughout our area. In the next few weeks, the bales will be sent to mushroom farms and horse operations across the country. The farmers are paid for the straw and the end product will be use in other operations.
Knowing land is a dwindling resource across the globe, farmers are increasingly becoming more conscious of how they can most effectively utilize the land and the crops they grow. Our farm is no different. We will continue to bale crops through this fall and will use the baled stocks and crops through the winter and early spring months. It’s a great way to use our resource and provide a second harvest from the same land.