|Alpaca On Farm Research Soil
Most Scientific research has focused on how to obtain
maximum yields of field crops such as hay and pastures.
This has been successful, but has contributed to increased
mineral composition in the forages. The ideal potassium
nutrient level for hay and pasture is less than 2.25% (Dry
Matter Basis) in forages for Alpacas. Lab results have revealed
that many pastures and hay samples have 2.00 - 4.00% potassium
(Dry Matter Basis). Field studies have found that
potassium levels above 2.25% in the forages will bind up other
minerals, and cause an imbalance in Alpacas. This will
create a metabolic and physiological chain of events that has a
negative affect on gestation, lactation, fiber production, etc.
on any animal. When Alpacas are grazing a pasture, or
eating hay, it is vital that you are aware of the potassium
Potassium is very important for plant overall growth and
health. The grass needs adequate potassium levels to reduce the
effect of plant diseases, but too much potassium in the soil
will increase the potassium level in the forage. There is
minimal research data available pertaining to limiting the
potassium level in forage, and still supplying the necessary
potassium fertilizer to the plant to prevent a potassium
Although, the researchers have focused on maximum yield of
field crops, Holmes Laboratory is promoting "ON FARM
RESEARCH" geared specifically for Alpacas. If you are
interested in using your farm or ranch to promote and help the
Alpaca Industry, it will require detailed information,
documentation and sampling techniques. The main objective
of this study is to observe and collect data on the potassium
level in the soil, and the potassium level in the grass pasture
or hay, that came from that same field. This will make it
possible to more accurately customize the potassium fertilizer
recommendation for that field, and increase our knowledge on how
to prevent a potassium deficiency in the soil, but also try to
keep the forage potassium level less than 2.25%.
Importance Of Soil Testing For Efficient
Soil is defined as a complex medium of organic and
inorganic materials providing water and nutrients to the root
system of plants to support their growth and development.
This is one of the most important functions of soil, but occasionally,
the soil in your pasture or hay field, may be low in one or more
nutrients by those plants. The deficiency of needed nutrients
are normally expressed in the appearance of the forage. Such
symptoms include a light green coloration of the grass blades,
weak or thin density, or a rapid decline in quality during
periods of heat or moisture stress. The only way to
determine if important nutrients are low or lacking is to
conduct a soil test. It is very important to submit a soil
sample for analysis before you apply any lime or fertilizer.
Holmes Laboratory offers a comprehensive Alpaca Soil
Diagnostic Analysis that includes results of nutrient levels in
the soil, and how to correct a deficiency or imbalance.
Another situation to be aware of is a field that might have an
excess of nutrients due to over fertilization or an abundant
manure application. If you do not know the past cropping
history and management of a pasture or hay field, or do not have
recent soil test results, now is the time to begin accumulation
detailed data about each field.
Professional Alpaca consultants explain to owners how
important it is to keep accurate health and production records
on all animals. If the soil supplies all the nutrients
available to the forages, and the major consumable nutrient to a
Alpaca is forage, then is it consistent to an efficient managed
operation to also keep accurate records of all the soils on your
farm or ranch?
When a soil sample is submitted to Holmes Laboratory,
please identify it as a Alpaca pasture or Alpaca hay field to
receive special conservative recommendations to prevent over
fertilization. The priority is on the nutritional well being of
the Alpaca animal instead of how to produce the most forage
from a field.
Potential Alpaca health and nutrition problems have been
prevented by soil testing before the animals are allowed to
graze. This awareness is very important as the Alpaca
Industry expands with new owners, and additional land is
developed into pasture and hay fields. If you are interested in
knowing more information about your soil fertility parameters,
please follow the instructions on "How
To Take A Soil Sample".
For Pasture, Hay Fields and Hay Bales
clean plastic buckets to the field, along with a large scissors
and a soil probe or pipe. One bucket will be for the soil
samples, and the other for the grass. Follow all instructions
on: "How To Take A Soil Sample".
At each location that a soil sample core is taken, also sample
the grass by grabbing a handful and using the scissors to cut
about three inches above the soil. Hold the grass over the
plastic bucket and cut into 4 - 6 inch long pieces. This will
allow for better mixing in the bucket. DO NOT pull out the grass
plant, or mix roots with your sample. Any soil contamination
will increase the mineral levels, and will not be an accurate
representation of the potassium in the grass.
- 15 locations have been selected, thoroughly mix the grass and
completely stuff a quart bag to ensure enough sample for
testing. Be sure to label the soil and the grass and state that
they both are from the same field. Complete the Alpaca
Sample Information Form and send to Holmes Laboratory.
Technique For Hay
Use a clean plastic bucket and a
large scissors. Select 10 bales that were harvested from the
same field as your collected soil sample. Reach into the center
of the square bale and remove a handful of grass. Hold over the
bucket and cut into 4 - 6 inch long pieces. Repeat for all 10
bales. Mix thoroughly and fill a quart plastic bag. Be sure to
label and complete the Alpaca
Sample Information Form and send to Holmes Laboratory.
HERE FOR ALPACA ANALYSIS INFO
HERE FOR ALPACA PRESS RELEASES