Grazing complex cover crop mixes provides multitude of benefits

Extension educators are exploring how cover crops can be used to benefit cropping and grazing systems simultaneously.

“We can reduce soil erosion, we get better water filtration, we can sequester carbon from the atmosphere and reduce greenhouse gases, and it provides wildlife habitat and many other benefits.”

During a webinar hosted by The Nature Conservancy Tuesday, Jerry Lindquist with Michigan State University explained how grazing complex cover crop mixes before and after a cereal crop can allow farmers to double crop fields, improve soil health, and diversify revenue streams.

“It can still provide a highly nutritious feed for animals to graze in the summer or in the early fall and winter.  The extra diversity of these mixes reduces the impact of dry weather or wet weather, it reduces the impacts of insects and the wildlife impact.”

Lindquist says recent trials are finding grazing a mix of annual cover crops over feeding hay can also provide a savings of 42 cents per day per head.

Researchers at MSU are finding gains in cattle are similar those made in a feedlot setting and consumer preference surveys show little difference in taste profiles.

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