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Researcher studies cover crop effects on winter pasture

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ARDMORE, Okla. — Noble Research Institute researchers are studying how cover crops could be part of a year-round grazing system that provides economic and environmental benefits to farmers and ranchers.

Noble Research Institute research agronomist James Rogers, Ph.D., received a three-year, $155,975 conservation innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service to conduct the research. The grant will support Rogers in determining how much moisture is used and/or conserved by summer cover crops and how those crops impact production of grasses and legumes consumed by livestock (commonly called forages) during the winter months.

Moisture is a key component of crop and forage production. Sufficient moisture levels boost pasture quantity and provide benefits to soil, which ultimately helps farmers and ranchers. "We need to determine whether the cover crops take moisture away from or preserve moisture for winter pasture," Rogers said. "Preserving moisture will allow for earlier fall production. However, if the cover crops use up the moisture, winter pasture production is limited."

This research is part of the Noble Research Institute's Forage 365 initiative, which seeks to enable ranchers to extend their grazing season and reduce dependency on hay. The research that comprises Forage 365 includes basic plant science, improved forage variety development and research on management practices.

"As a whole, Forage 365 focuses on four introduced pillar forages: wheat, bermudagrass, tall fescue and alfalfa in order to improve their performance in Southern Great Plains grazing systems," Rogers said. "Incorporating a cover crop into wheat pasture stocker systems could enhance the system, but it needs to be tested and that is what this grant will help us to do."

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James Rogers, Ph.D.Noble Research Institute research agronomist James Rogers, Ph.D., received a three-year, $155,975 conservation innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service to study how cover crops could be part of a year-round grazing system that provides economic and environmental benefits to farmers and ranchers.

Noble Research Institute, LLC (www.noble.org) is an independent nonprofit agricultural research organization dedicated to delivering solutions to great agricultural challenges. Headquartered in Ardmore, Oklahoma, Noble’s goal is to achieve regenerative land stewardship in grazing animal production with producer profitability. Achievement of this goal will be measured by farmers and ranchers profitably regenerating hundreds of millions of acres of U.S. grazing lands. Noble aims to remove, mitigate or help producers avoid the barriers that deter the lasting use of regenerative, profitable land management practices in grazing animal production.

Researchers, consultants, educators and ranch staff work together to give farmers and ranchers the skills and tools to regenerate the land in a profitable manner. Noble researchers and educators seek and deliver answers to producer questions concerning regenerative management of pasture and range environments, wildlife, pecan production, and livestock production. Regenerative management recognizes that each decision made on the ranch impacts the interactions of the soil, plants, water, animals and producers. Noble’s 14,000 acres of working ranch lands provide a living laboratory on which to demonstrate and practice regenerative principles and ideas to deliver value to farmers and ranchers across the U.S.

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