GRAZING DIVERSE COVER CROPS: NEW FINDINGS, RESOURCES, AND LESSONS LEARNED
Between 2014 and 2018, the Wallace Center’s Pasture Project initiative worked in partnership with Practical Farmers of Iowa, Sustainable Farming Association, and Land Stewardship Project to assess and promote the economic and soil health benefits of grazing diverse cover crops with cattle under adaptive, high stock density management. Funded by a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant, the project worked with eight farms in Minnesota and Iowa to gather data, offer field days, and create farmer-focused resources on grazing cover crops.
Creating resources. At the start of this project, a lack of resources on grazing cover crops was identified as a barrier to adoption. Through this project, a comprehensive how-to guide, a series of instructional videos featuring the cooperating farmers and leading experts, and a series of webinars have been developed. You can watch our video series and webinars below. You can read our press release on this work by clicking here.
Building the case. This project collected and analyzed economic and soil health datasets over three years that compare control plots (use of cover crops and winter grazing in cash crop rotations) and treatment (cash crop rotations without cover crops or winter grazing) on 8 cooperating farms in Minnesota and Iowa. Trial results indicate that the incorporation of diverse cover crops and adaptive livestock grazing can result in incremental improvements in soil fertility and biology and can result in significant cost savings from forage production and improved soil fertility. See our results below, including a Technical Bulletin and the Full Trial Report.