Testing Brix in our forage

Last Sunday evening, Topher, Jen and I  went for a walk in the corner field at the intersection of Sloan Road and Oblong Road to check out the grass and do some brix testing on it.  Brix is a measurement of the sugars, amino acids, oils, protiens, flavonoids, minerals and other nutrients in a food.  Therefore, the brix level of a crop is correlated with nutrient density.  In order to test brix, you take some of your sample (in our case, grass) and squeeze out some of the juice (or sap), we used a garlic press.  You squeeze the sap onto a refractometer and look through it (must be done on a clear day).  In the same way that a pencil placed in a glass of water appears bent because of the light passing through it, the plant juice will also bend and the amount of bending reflects the richness of the juice.  Brix measurements are often used in wine making and assessing the quality of fruit preserves such as jams and jellies.  Many vegetable farmers are now taking brix measurements of their products in order to monitor its nutrient levels and track their own progress in building the nutrient levels in their soils.  Our refractometer is brand new, so we had fun being pasture science geeks testing the brix of every species in the field.  We are going to do some pasture amendments and foliar feeding this summer and fall, so hopefully I’ll get to report some data back to you in a few months about our brix readings!