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On-farm research quantifies value of grazing cattle on cover cropsFor Release: March 9, 2018 Wesley Degner, of Lytton Mark Schleisman of Lake City Bill Frederick of Jefferson Contact: Tamsyn Jones | Outreach & Publications Coordinator | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | AMES, Iowa — A three-year on-farm research project by Practical [...]

March 9, 2018 


“We started planting cereal rye because it was easy to calve in. Now, most all of our covers are grazed as a way to justify the costs,” said Mark Schleisman, of Lake City. Cover crops that are grazed have value, but how much value? A three-year PFI research project, initiated in 2015, helped quantify this value […]

February 8, 2018 


Two years of monitoring birds on a central Iowa farm has shown that rotationally grazed pastures support threatened bird species. Properly managed pastures, grazed by a herd of grass-fed cattle, created a desirable habitat for grassland birds, which were attracted the pasture’s mix of short and tall vegetation. Some bird species, such as the bobolink and […]

January 26, 2018 


fit into extended and diversified
crop rotations between the
small grain and corn phases of
the rotation. They can either be
underseeded with a small grain
crops in early spring or planted
in the summer following small
grain harvest.
• Farmer-cooperators Doug
Alert & Margaret Smith and
Vic Madsen compared corn
following two green manure
strategies: red clover or alfalfa
underseeded with oats (US) vs. a
mix of sunn hemp, sweet clover,
red clover and radish planted in
mid-summer after oat harvest
Key Findings
• Weed biomass in oats in mid-July
was no different with or without
the underseeding at both farms.
• By mid-October 2016, the US
(red clover) produced more
aboverground biomass than
the MSS by almost 1,000 lb/ac
at Alert/Smith’s. The opposite
was true at Madsen’s: the MSS
produced more biomass than the
US (alfalfa) by approx. 800 lb/ac.
• Corn yields were no different
between the two green manure
treatments at both farms.

January 17, 2018 


Cover crops are typically either aerially seeded into standing crops around the time of physiological maturity in late summer or drilled immediately following crop harvest in the fall. However, on occasion time does not permit one to get a cover crop seeded in the fall or the cover crop fails to establish. In 2017, farmer-researchers […]



Cover crops are typically either
aerially seeded into standing crops
around the time of physiological
maturity in late summer or drilled
immediately following crop harvest
in the fall.
• In this study, two farmercooperators
evaluated spring
cover crops seeded in March
approximately 50 days before
planting soybeans later in the
Key Findings
• Cover crops seeded in late March
and terminated in late May grew up
to between 6 to 10 inches in height.
• Cover crops did not affect soybean
yields compared to where no cover
crop was seeded.

January 16, 2018 


In Iowa, cover crops are typically either aerially seeded into standing corn around the time of physiological maturity in late summer or drilled immediately following corn harvest in the fall. However, the earlier one can seed a cover crop, the more potential for growth and biomass production. An earlier seeding date also opens up the […]



An earlier seeding date opens up
the opportunity for more diverse
cover crops like brassicas and
legumes that need more time and
heat units to grow than common
cover crops like cereal rye.
• Two farmer-cooperators
interseeded cover crops (cowpeas,
annual ryegrass, rapeseed) into
corn at the V4 stage in June. Corn
hybrids chosen exhibited vertical
and horizontal leaf orientations to
test whether more light penetrating
the corn canopy would encourage
successful cover crop establishment
and growth.
Key Findings
• Corn leaf orientation and corn
planting population did not appear
to have much of an effect on the
interseeded cover crops.
• Jack Boyer saw corn yields reduced
by an average of 24 bu/ac due to
the interseeded cover crops.

January 15, 2018 


Grazing cover crops can provide economic
returns to farming operations
within the same year cover crops are
• This study is in its third year and is
being conducted by farmers in the
North Raccoon watershed who are
participating in a Water Quality Initiative
• Utilizing cover crops as forage represents
a win-win for livestock producers
and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction
Key findings:
• Three cow-calf producers reported
that over two years, cover crops
provided up to 3.81 tons of dry
matter per acre.
• Grazing cover crops offset winter
feed expenses up to $38,953.
• Each farmer reaped economic
benefits within the same year of
planting the cover crops.
• Cost share was provided to each
farmer, which contributed to profitability.

January 4, 2018 


Dave and Meg Schmidt operate a diverse livestock farm, Troublesome Creek Cattle Co., in Exira IA; raising grass-fed and finished cattle and sheep, pigs and poultry. Feeding the 100% grass-fed cattle herd over the winter is a great expense, so they have experimented with feeding different forage sources- hay, cover crops, crop residue and stockpiled […]

December 22, 2017