The goal of the Padlock Ranch farm is to put up high-quality forage products at a low cost to support our cattle operations. Padlock farms over 4000 acres of irrigated and 2900 acres of dryland ground. Primary crops include alfalfa and grass hay, corn silage, and hay barley. First cutting irrigated hay fields are chopped and ensiled to produce haylage in June. In the silage pit, anaerobic fermentation occurs, which preserves the wet, chopped hay as a high-quality feed product. Second-cutting irrigated hay, dryland hay, and hay barley are harvested late June through August as dry hay in big square bales. Third-cutting irrigated hay is put up as haylage in late September and early October. Corn silage is harvested in early September and becomes the staple of growing rations in the feedlot. This process is similar to the process described for putting up haylage. The corn silage is another high-quality feed that helps to grow the cattle we have in the feedlot over the winter.
Technology in farming has advanced tremendously. Besides significant advancements in plant genomics, other technologies have revolutionized our approaches. We utilize precision fertilization, where the correct amount of fertilizer is applied based on the production potential of different zones within a field. This reduces overall fertilizer costs and minimizes over and under-fertilization. GPS guided tracking in our equipment increases the precision of field work and planting. Variable rate seeding is another technology that we’re moving into. We are also moving towards practices such as no-till that will help reduce erosion and nutrient volatilization. Soil health is critical to sustainable farming enterprises.