Seed to Feed: Factoring Emergence into Production

Dr. Chris Dutton, VMD, joined the Dairy One Integrated Farming Solutions team in 2016. Prior to coming to Dairy One, he spent time working as a practicing veterinarian, something he still manages to squeeze into his schedule, and at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center, VT. His passion for education, community, and the dairy industry make him an asset to the Dairy One team and customers.

In Chris’s role as an agricultural management resources specialist, he works with dairy farmers across the Northeast to help them identify solutions for their operations. Whether its herd management software, diagnostic reports, or precision agriculture tools, Chris’s focus is on identifying the tools that fit best with the farm’s goals. When he isn’t talking with farms about finding the right technology fit, he is providing support for FeedWatch software users.

“A while back, I had one of those front-line cow jobs on a large dairy,” Chris says. “We would survey for sick and open cows, find them, fix them or get them pregnant or both. I had a background in nutrition and quickly learned that my day could be made 100 times easier by good feed and facility design. I love finding the one thing that prevents work further down the milk production pipeline.”

His passion for finding that one thing led him to work with Dairy One’s precision agronomy team on a corn emergence flag study in 2020. The team placed different colored flags in the field to track the emergence of corn plants and the affect emergence had on plant performance and yield throughout the year.

“Planting is one of the first controllable dominoes in the milk production pipeline,” Chris explains. “If we can get an average of 1.5 tons or more feed per acre by focusing on consistent emergence, we can do all kinds of things to make your dairy more powerful: have inventory to prevent rapid forage changes in diet, plant varieties that improve milk production and health, or grow a variety of ingredients that are valuable to your animals’ diets. If nothing else, we can help you concentrate more on improving other aspects of the dairy and worrying less about your feed.”

For Chris, taking the time to study corn and how it emerges is one of the most valuable things a farm can do differently this year. “This year, walk your corn fields as they are emerging,” Chris says. “There is money out there.”

“Planting is one of the first controllable dominoes in the milk production pipeline,” Chris explains. “If we can get an average of 1.5 tons or more feed per acre by focusing on consistent emergence, we can do all kinds of things to make our dairy more powerful.”

Chris Dutton

If you’re already thinking about the time you don’t have to track emergence, we can help you with that. After the success of last year’s emergence study, Dairy One’s precision agronomy team is offering emergence flag kits to help you collect the data you need to measure the financial impact of your emergence and planter performance. Kits include flags, process protocol, and tools for data collection and reporting.

Chris and other members of the precision agronomy team gather data from a 2020 field study.

This type of data collection and technology is what gets Chris excited about the future of agriculture. “We are just touching the surface,” he says. “Agriculture will reverse global warming through the application of technology and use of data, all while improving the lives of farmers and animals. The cool thing is that we don’t necessarily have to learn more, we just have to get what is already known out there and working on our farms.”

Growing up in Connecticut, Chris saw firsthand how productive even a small patch of land could be. The way that farmers care for their land and community and take ownership of their success is why he believes in farming. It’s why he choses to work for farmers to make a difference on their farms.

“Dairy One is a cooperative, which literally means we work for our customers, for farmers,” Chris says. “It’s not about pushing a particular product, although we do have particular products we are fond of. Our goal is to work with farmers to discover what is the best fit for them. We want what we do to make a difference.”

To talk to the precision agronomy team about the services that will make a difference on your farm, call 607-252-7550 or email precisionfarming@dairyone.com.

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