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Discussion on Corn field coming up to our pasture fence- safe?

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Patsy DB
Username: lindsey

Post Number: 31
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Monday, Apr 16, 2007 - 5:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dear Dr O & others,
I'm just getting very worried.
Our pasture fenceline borders farmland. I just recently found out that the farmer intends to grown corn on this plot, meaning right next to our grazing field.
I was just reading up on fumonisin and would like to know if having a cornfield next to the pasture will be of risk to my horses??

Would corn screenings be drifting during harvesting etc.

Any answers are greatly appreciated.
I'm worried sick now, and need to know what the risks are, so if need be I can discuss with the farmer & see for other options with regards to perhaps farming a different crop.

Thank you very much.
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Username: kamibroo

Post Number: 19
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007 - 2:42 am:   Edit PostPrint Post


From quick search, I take 'fumonisin' as something from molded corn. I'm in Ohio where many corn fields boarder horse pastures. I've never heard of a problem. My neighbor farms corn (in rotations) and I have never seen anything but the stumps left (no stray stalks or ears of corn to mold). So barring a flood or something that damages the crop, I wouldn't expect there to be much left to mold.

You should consider that there is huge economic pressure to plant corn this year for a variety of reasons. They are even pressuring congress to release acreage that has been in farmland preservation programs for the purpose of corn crops. For the farmer its an economic opportunity that is hard to ignore. For many farmers its a part of crop rotations that are planned for years in advance to maintain soil health. My neighbor would not take it well if I suggested that he change his cropping patterns. The best response I could hope for is to be laughed off his farm (and we are friendly). If I didn't know him at all and made that suggestion, I would expect a pretty strong negative response. Also remember that that corn field is better than him selling it to a developer and a neighborhood of unmanaged kids bordering your farm.

In our area, the farmers leave a space around the edge, so I doubt the corn will be right beside your fence. Most farmers plant genetically modified (GMO) corn, in that case, they HAVE to leave a boarder due to the license. Unless you're organic, you and your horses are most likely already eating GMO corn for quite some time now.

Usually they spray chemicals (Round Up) 2-3 times. Once before to kill all existing plants, once a couple weeks later and sometimes once more while the corn is still @ 1-2' tall. They are required to control the spray (e.g. use it on a windless day) and it is expensive, so the spray should not reach your property. But you might ask the farmer to let you know the night before so you can keep the horses out of the pasture until you've had a chance to see if there's any over spray. It would look like wilted/dead plants. Most sprays become 'inert' once they reach the ground, but if you notice wilted plants, I'd wait for a rain or the grass to be totally dead (about 3 days) before putting the horses back in the area. But remember, he has a huge incentive to not have any over spray, so it is not likely to happen unless there's a really bad turn in the wind.

I don't think I'd worry about the harvesting, unless you have horses with heaves or alergies. Most horses will just find a different area up wind. I see far more dust from cars traveling on dirt roads. If I had a horse with heaves, I'd watch him when the corn silks are on (increased pollen) and at harvest time (increased dust). But with any luck you're up wind and none of it will be an issue.

I hope this helps.

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Patsy DB
Username: lindsey

Post Number: 32
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007 - 7:33 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you very much for this informative post.

So, most likely I have nothing to worry about.

I will talk to the farmer with regards to not planting right next to our fenceline. We, ourselves on purpose stayed within our property line with our fencing, but I noticed the farmer uses that free strip to farm on regardless.
The other week I had about a foot or more of lime pellets spilled over into my pasture too, that I wasn't aware off. I had already turned the horses out on it and only noticed it a day later. Thank God, it didn't seem to have affected my boys.

I understand the economic impact. That was one of my initial worries. I have already calculated what income he gets of this 5 acre bordering plot and was willing to pay him the yearly income for it (about 2,5K/year to well cover his loss). I wasn't aware of the hardship of years in advance crop rotation in order the have good soil health. So I can see where my offer to pay a yearly income may not cover his loss.

We only moved here in November last year. At that time the corn was literally onto our property. What confused me, what the fact that by late November the corn did not look usable to me anymore (we live in mid-eastern NJ). I thought corn had to be harvested when it's still green leafed, not brown & dead-ish. But again, I have little clue when it comes to farming.

I lost a horse to colic only a month ago and I've become close to neurotic about things that could go wrong with my other 2 boys. Hence my panic.

Again thank you very much. I'll discuss leaving a strip free around our fenceline and offer to pay him for that strip (eventhough it's on our property) & for the rest go with the assumption that the neighbouring corn shouldn't be of risk.

Kind regards,
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Little King Ranch
Username: eoeo

Post Number: 309
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007 - 8:32 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Patsy, the corn you speak of must be field corn, raised for the dry corn kernels they harvest. Our pastures border our farmland which has been used to raise corn in the past. Dried up corn leaves have blown into our pastures and there has never been a problem. What you speak of would probably be corn that has been allowed to get wet and mold. The horses have not been bothered by the machinery that harvests the corn either. In fact, after the initial racing around because this "monster" is making lots of noise and dust is flying around it and such, they actually watch with great interest as the machines pass by. We have even had them harvest sweet corn at night with lights going everywhere, trucks rumbling around and there hasn't been a problem. If you are worried, ask the neighbor to let you know when they are going to harvest next to your property and take your boys in. It won't take long to get the corn off with the machines they use today. Good Luck with being a good neighbor.
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Ann S
Username: annes

Post Number: 179
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007 - 11:31 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

My neighbor rents out her farm - corn and soybeans are rotated. I've never had a problem with my horses being in the next field and there is a wide enough border at the fenceline to accommodate large machinery. My only fear is if my horses ever got out and ate any of the corn or soybeans, I am certain that could be fatal. Part of the fence runs through a wooded area so I check frequently for fallen trees or limbs on the fence that could allow them to get out.
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Angie J.
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 1154
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007 - 3:54 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

It is interesting how times change. I remember people letting horses in corn fields after harvest so they would eat the few missed ears or the stalks as well. Never worried about so many things. Of course now I wouldn't do that with all the worries about corn.

Of course maybe those people weren't to well informed about horse nutrition?
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Username: kamibroo

Post Number: 21
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007 - 7:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The amish feed plain oats and corn to their horses. Those horses manage a huge amount of work compared to the average pleasure horse. Many 'old timers' in my area also use cracked corn for their horses. Since they're accustomed to that diet, turning them loose on a corn field shouldn't cause any problems (?)

My neighbor feeds a sweet feed (so some corn, but not only corn) and has a fence that is more of a suggestion than a fence. Her horses are routinely out and have the choice of grazing in yards and along driveways or crossing the road to a HUGE corn field. I have never seen them cross the road for the corn, even though they are ridden right by it and know full well that it's there.

Of 15 horses that have come through this farm, only one has ever shown interest in corn plants. He didn't actually eat them. He liked to pull them up and swing the root ball around. Once the plant was too beaten up and the root ball fell off, he'd go pluck another one out to play with. I watched him do this to three plants before I went out and corrected him against it. The next summer he had no interest, so I think it was a 2yo phase thing for him.

I don't doubt some horses might find a corn field attractive, but I haven't seen it in my little valley. My bigger fear would be an alfalfa field near by.

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