Problem 1: Cover crops have received great interest in the past few years as a way to improve soil health and reduce wind and soil erosion. Cover crops are generally grown when land would be typically fallowed, such as during the fall or winter following corn or soybean crops or during the summer following a wheat or other small grain crop.
In the Southern Great Plains, a major livestock enterprise is grazing stocker cattle on small grain pasture until pasture is depleted in the spring. The land area used for the winter pasture is then fallowed through the summer until the pasture is replanted in the fall. We wish to determine what effect growing a summer cover crop prior to establishment of small grain winter pasture will have on winter pasture production, soil health, stocker cattle performance and system economics.
Problem 2: The major cost of maintaining a cow through the year is in supplement feed during the fall and winter. During this time period, warm-season grasses are dormant and in short supply for grazing forcing the producer to feed supplement and hay to make up for forage deficient. The more additional grazing days that a cow herd can obtain, the fewer inputs into the system a producer would need.
Approach 1: We are conducting a multiyear project to understand the impact of incorporating a summer cover crop on the subsequent winter pasture production and the economics of the total system. The cover crop that is being used is a multispecies mixture of soybeans, buckwheat, sunn hemp, millet, and corn.
Approach 2: We are evaluating two grazing systems with the objective of extending the grazing season against a control in order to determine if winter feed supplementation can be reduced or eliminated, what effect this will have on cow performance, and an evaluation of the economics of the systems.
Project Title: Summer cover-crop effect on no-till and conventional till winter pasture production, stocker gain, soil health and soil physical properties
Source: Natural Resource Conservation Service
Project Title: Evaluation of Vitazyme as a standalone fertilizer or fertilizer supplement in bermudagrass hay production
Source: Vital Earth Resources