After harvesting the 2011 – 2012 crop, we planted cotton and measured yield compared to the contract. There was nearly 150 lbs. of lint difference. We again planted seven different plots with annuals and harvested each to evaluate the nutrient levels as well as measuring soil organic matter (SOM). This data was presented to a producer meeting on 3-17-14 with over 80 attendees. Candace Pollock of Southern SARE was asked to explain the process of applying for and receiving grants and the importance of on-farm trials.
We noticed the need for high energy forage for both Dairy and Beef producers in southeast Georgia, noting there was no data to guide producers as to which varieties to grow.
To take a 45 acre tract dividing into seven different plots, planting then harvesting and sampling both the forage as well as the soil organic matter.
Test results were very impressive as demonstrated by our University of Georgia specialists Dr. Dennis Hancock, Dr. Curt Lacy and Dr. Lawton Stewart.
With help from the USDA-NRCS, the field was divided into seven equal sections so each variety could be analyzed.
We presented two different producer meetings – one with over 90 attendees and the last, a rainy afternoon, with over 80 people in attendance.
With the help of the University of Georgia specialists, we were able to show data reflecting the production of high nutrient forage as well as improving the soil organic matter thus helping prevent erosion as well as turning a cover crop into a cash crop.
From evidence summited from the tests results there are at least a dozen farmers in our area who are growing cover crops for forage. This includes a small farm with just six acres as well as a dairy growing more than 600 acres.
Southeast Georgia will now have the data available to help local farmers realize the value of growing cover crop forages.