Understanding the Impacts of Grazing and Baling Corn Residue on Subsequent Crop Yields Across Various Soil Types with Different Erosion Potential

Final report for LNC13-354

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2013: $199,059.00
Projected End Date: 11/01/2017
Grant Recipient: Unversity of Nebraska
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Rick Rasby
Unversity of Nebraska
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Project Information

Summary:

Corn residue is abundant in the mid-west/corn belt and is an excellent feed for livestock. Cow costs can be reduced if the cows graze to get their nutrient needs as compared to feeding harvested feeds. Row crop producers are concerned that allowing livestock to graze their corn residue will reduce the yield of the subsequent crop and also cause compaction. The University of Nebraska has long term data from two research sites, one in eastern and one in western NE, that says there is no reduction in subsequent yield (corn followed by corn or in a corn:soybean rotation) in addition, no indications of compaction if cattle graze the corn residue per University of Nebraska recommendation. Producers in NE suggest that although there was good research at two sites in NE, those sites were not like their farm. Therefore, 6 sites were identified to participate in the SARE project where they agreed to impliment three replicated treatments: Control, Baled, Grazed (using Nebraska recommendation). At cooperator site we collected yield data and soil data in the spring and fall each year. Our hypothesis was that there would be no difference in yield and soil attributes if corn residue was grazed. We found that there was no difference in yield or soil attributes if the corn residue was grazed. Although we saw no difference in yield by year in the baled treatments, three years is not long enough to say this with any certainty. We feel confident regarding grazing on subsequent yield as it is supported with 20 years and 10 years of data at two University locations. In the survey, we found that there were some row crop producers that would allow grazing, but had no livestock. Hence, we developed the website – Crop Residue Exchange.

  1. Presented data collected in the NCSARE funded project at 3 National Meetings.
  2. Presented data collected in the NCSARE funded project at 5 meeting in Nebraska.
  3. Presented data collected in the NCSARE funded project at 6 Field Days hosted by project cooperators and University of Nebraska Extension.
  4. Three graduate students that have their Master’s Ph.D. program centered around the NCSARE funded project published 5 abstracts using data collected in the NCSARE project.
  5. Graduate students wrote 4 reports that will appear in the 2017 Nebraska Beef Report.
  6. Faculty wrote, using the survey data collected for the NCSARE funded project, a newsletter article that appeared in CropWatch and generated one Journal Article (Journal of Extension).

Introduction:

Corn residue is abundant in the mid-west/corn belt and is an excellent feed for livestock. Cow costs can be reduced if the cows graze to get their nutrient needs as compared to feeding harvested feeds. Row crop producers are concerned that allowing livestock to graze their corn residue will reduce the yield of the subsequent crop and also cause compaction. The University of Nebraska has long term data from two research sites, one in eastern and one in western NE, that says there is no reduction in subsequent yield (corn followed by corn or in a corn:soybean rotation) in addition, no indications of compaction if cattle graze the corn residue per University of Nebraska recommendation. Producers in NE suggest that although there was good research at two sites in NE, those sites were not like their farm.

Project Objectives:

Project Objectives:

  1. Determine the effects of corn residue grazing and baling on subsequent grain yield and soil productivity.
  2. Deliver a database on grain yield and soil productivity as affected by residue removal under rain-fed and irrigated fields with differing erosion potentials.
  3. Determine the effects of utilizing cover crop grazing as a part of a livestock-cropping system on subsequent yield and animal performance.
  4. Deliver technology transfer and improved educational methods that include producers as cooperators and presenters on the impact of corn residue removal on subsequent yield and the use of cover crops in corn fields.
  5. Deliver guidelines for crop residue management for livestock production

 

Objective #1. Our data says that grazing as a corn residue removal mechanism, according to UNL grazing recommendations, does not reduce subsequent corn or soybean yield, and does not result in compaction. Corn residue removal using baling, removes nutrients and can result in wind and water erosion.

Objective #2. Data collected in this project adds to a larger data base collected over many years that removal of corn residue by grazing does not result in a reduction in subsequent. Our data were collected in different landscapes and soil types using similar tillage practices.

Objective #3. Cover crops and grazing cover crops have not had a negative impact on grain yield. Using a cover crop mix of turnips, radishes, oats and rye, weaned calf performance ranged from 1.5 to 2.3 lb/hd/da. Cover crop establishment depends on moisture and environmental temperature and we have had success when planting after silage and high moisture corn harvest or wheat harvest in July.

Objective #4. Data has been shared in 8 scientific and non-scientific publications, 7 state and national meetings, 1 newsletter, and 6 field days.

Objective #5. Will be fully addressed after fall 2016 and spring 2017 field data is collected.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Dennis Bauer
  • Steve Bejot
  • Dr. Humberto Blanco
  • Jason Gross
  • Ken Hubbert
  • Dr. Karla Jenkins
  • Brent Johnson
  • Gary Lesoing
  • Dr. Jim MacDonald
  • Hilary Maricle
  • Brent Plugge
  • Dr. John Pollak
  • Dr. Rick Rasby

Research

Research conclusions:

Impacts

These findings were shared with students, producers, industry, faculty and scientists at other universities.

  1. Our data says that there is no reduction in corn yield following residue removal by grazing.
  2. Our data says that there is no reduction in soybean yield when the field is in a corn-soybean rotation and the corn residue is removed by grazing.
  3. There is water and wind erosion when residue is removed by baling.
  4. Baling removes nutrient, but short-term data says no reduction in yield. Research team would like to see more years of data in the impact of residue removal by baling.
  5. Grazing corn residue, using stocking rates recommended by the University of Nebraska, does not result in compaction.

Producers can now make more informed decisions about residue removal and the impact on subsequent yield. Our team, using these data and more long-term data, would conclude that if UNL corn residue grazing recommendations are used, there is no reduction in yield.

Accomplishments

Journal Publications:

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui, R. Rasby, R. Drijber, M.E. Drewnoski, K. Ulmer, J. Cox. Regional assessment of cattle grazing and baling of corn residues in Nebraska: Impact on soil properties (In preparation).

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui, R. Rasby, M.E. Drewnoski.Temporal changes in soil physical properties due to corn residue grazing and baling (In preparation).

Cox, J.L., K.M. Ulmer, M.K. Rakkar, L. Franzen-Castle, H. Blanco-Canqui, M.E. Drewnoski, J.C. MacDonald, and R.J. Rasby. 2017. Perceptions of crop consultants and producers on grazing corn residue in Nebraska. Journal of Extension. October 2017//Volume 55// Number 5. https://www.joe.org/joe/2017october/rb2.php.

Canqui-Blanco, H. A.L. Stalker, R. Rasby, T.M. Shaver, M.E. Drewnoski, S. van Donk, and L. Kibet. 2014. Does Cattle Grazing and Baling of Corn Residue Increase Water Erosion? Soil Science Society of America Journal. doi:10.2136/sssaj2015.07.0254

Journal Abstracts

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui. 2017. Temporal changes in soil physical properties due to corn residue grazing and baling. SSSA Division: Soil and Water Conservation. ASA-SSSA-CSA International Annual meeting-2017, Tampa, FL.

Link: https://scisoc.confex.com/crops/2017am/webprogram/Paper106719.html

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui, R. Rasby and R. Drijber. 2017. Impact of residue grazing and baling on greenhouse gas fluxes under irrigated system. ASA: Environmental Quality. ASA-SSSA-CSA International Annual meeting-2017, Tampa, FL. Link: https://scisoc.confex.com/crops/2017am/webprogram/Paper106723.html

Ulmer, K.M., J.L. Cox, M.K. Rakkar, R.G. Bondurant, H. Blanco-Canqui, M.E. Drewnoski, K.H. Jenkins, J.C. MacDonald, and R.J. Rasby. Effect of Corn Residue Grazing or Baling on Subsequent Crop Yield and Nutrient Removal. Abstract at 2016 ADSA/ASAS Joint Animal Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. July 2016.

Cox, J.L., K.M. Ulmer, M. Rakkar, L. Franzen-Castle, H. Blanco-Canqui, M.E. Drewnoski, J.C. MacDonald, and R.J. Rasby. 2016. Perceptions of crop consultants and producers in Nebraska on grazing corn residue. Abstract at 2016 Midwest Section Meeting ASAS in Des Moines, Iowa. March 16.

https://www.animalsciencepublications.org/publications/jas/abstracts/94/supplement2/28?search-result=1 doi:10.2527/msasas2016-061.

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui, R. Rasby, M.E. Drewnoski, K.M. Ulmer, and J. Cox. 2016. Regional assessment of cattle grazing and baling of corn residues in Nebraska: Implications on soil ecosystem services. SSSA Division: Soil and Water Conservation. ASA-SSSA-CSA International Annual meeting-2016, Phoenix, AZ.

https://scisoc.confex.com/crops/2017am/webprogram/Paper106723.html

Peer Reviewed Reports

Cox, J.L., K.M. Ulmer, M.K. Rakkar, L. Franzen-Castle, H. Blanco-Canqui, M.E. Drewnoski, J.C. MacDonald, and R.J. Rasby. 2017. Perceptions of crop consultants and producers on grazing corn residue in Nebraska. Nebraska Beef Report. https://beef.unl.edu/documents/2017-beef-report/201741-Perceptions-of-crop-consultants-and-producers-on-grazing-corn-residue-in-Nebraska.pdf.

Ulmer, K.M., J.L. Cox, M.K. Rakkar, R.G. Bondurant, H. Blanco-Canqui, M.E. Drewnoski, K.H. Jenkins, J.C. MacDonald, and R.J. Rasby. 2017. Effect of Corn Residue Grazing or Baling on Subsequent Crop Yield and Nutrient Removal. Nebraska Beef Cattle Report. https://beef.unl.edu/documents/2017-beef-report/201717-Effect-of-Corn-Residue-Grazing-or-Baling-on-Subsequent-Crop-Yield-and-Nutrient-Removal.pdf

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui, R.J. Rasby, M.E. Drewnoski, J.C. MacDonald, K.M. Ulmer, and J.L. Cox. 2017. Regional Assessment of Cattle Grazing and Baling of Corn Residues in Nebraska: Implications on Soil Ecosystem Services. Nebraska Beef Report.

Drewnoski, Mary, Jordan Cox, Jim MacDonald, Humberto Blanco, Lisa Franzen-Castle, Rick Rasby, Beef Specialist. 2016. Nebraska Farmer Perspectives on Grazing Corn Residue. 2016. March 1, 2016. http://cropwatch.unl.edu/nebraska-farmer-perspectives-grazing-corn-residue

YouTube Video:Presented

Cornstalk Grazing Recommendations

Developed 2014: Rick Rasby

Produced by: Jeff Wilkerson and Kurtis Harms

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi3tzpmAr0Q

Website:

Crop Residue Exchange website. The website can be accessed at http://cropresidueexchange.unl.edu

Producer Presentations: title, location, Date

Field days entitled ‘Understanding the impacts of grazing and baling corn residue on subsequent crop yield across soil types with different erosion potential’; locations:

  1. 2016, Regional Assessment of Cattle Grazing and Baling of Corn Residues in Nebraska: Implications on Soil Ecosystem Services. Nov 6-9, 2016 (ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Annual Meeting). Phoenix, AZ,
  2. 2016, 16th Annual Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney, NE August 9-10, 2016. http://grassland.unl.edu/nebraskagrazingconference
  3. 2016 SARE Field Day, Mitchell Farm, Scottsbluff, NE, October 27, 2016.
  4. 2016 SARE Field Day, Brent Johnson Farm, Nebraska City, October 20, 2016.
  5. 2016 SARE Field Day, Kent Hubbert Farm, Odessa, NE, September 28, 2016.
  6. 2016 SARE Field Day, USMARC, Clay Center, NE, September 28, 2016.
  7. 2016 SARE Field Day, Steve Bejot Farm, Ainsworth, NE, September 27, 2016.
  8. 2016 SARE Field Day, Northeast Community College, Norfolk, NE. September 27, 2016.
  9. 2016 Clay Center group meeting in Clay Center, NE, August 2, 2016.
  10. 2016 ADSA/ASAS Joint Animal Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 19-23 2016.
  11. 2016 Midwest Section Meeting ASAS in Des Moines, IA, March 16, 2016.
  12. 2016 Beef Committee Meetings in Mead, NE, May 10-11, 2016.
  13. 2015 Beef Committee Meetings in Ainsworth, NE, May 11-13, 2015.
  14. 2015 Toured the USMARC sites at the 2015 Farmer and Ranchers Cow/Calf College, February 17, 2015.
Participation Summary
6 Farmers participating in research

Education

Educational approach:

Use a multi-pronged approach to engage producers and deliver the results of the project. We used face to face meetings, YouTube video, producers directed reports, a website, informed scientist at regional and national meetings. The results of this project were targeted to college students in face to face presentations. This project was also chapters in two graduate student theises and one Ph.D. dissertation.

Project Activities

SARE Field Days
Producer Meetings
Grazing Corn Residue YouTube
Corn Residue Exchange Website
Nebraska Farmer Perspectives on Grazing Corn Residue.
Nebraska Beef Report Articles - Producer Target Audience

Educational & Outreach Activities

121 Consultations
2 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
6 On-farm demonstrations
21 Published press articles, newsletters
5 Tours
14 Webinars / talks / presentations
6 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

525 Farmers
56 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

Journal Publications:

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui, R. Rasby, R. Drijber, M.E. Drewnoski, K. Ulmer, J. Cox. Regional assessment of cattle grazing and baling of corn residues in Nebraska: Impact on soil properties (In preparation).

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui, R. Rasby, M.E. Drewnoski.Temporal changes in soil physical properties due to corn residue grazing and baling (In preparation).

Cox, J.L., K.M. Ulmer, M.K. Rakkar, L. Franzen-Castle, H. Blanco-Canqui, M.E. Drewnoski, J.C. MacDonald, and R.J. Rasby. 2017. Perceptions of crop consultants and producers on grazing corn residue in Nebraska. Journal of Extension. October 2017//Volume 55// Number 5. https://www.joe.org/joe/2017october/rb2.php.

Canqui-Blanco, H. A.L. Stalker, R. Rasby, T.M. Shaver, M.E. Drewnoski, S. van Donk, and L. Kibet. 2014. Does Cattle Grazing and Baling of Corn Residue Increase Water Erosion? Soil Science Society of America Journal. doi:10.2136/sssaj2015.07.0254

 

Journal Abstracts

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui. 2017. Temporal changes in soil physical properties due to corn residue grazing and baling. SSSA Division: Soil and Water Conservation. ASA-SSSA-CSA International Annual meeting-2017, Tampa, FL.

Link: https://scisoc.confex.com/crops/2017am/webprogram/Paper106719.html

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui, R. Rasby and R. Drijber. 2017. Impact of residue grazing and baling on greenhouse gas fluxes under irrigated system. ASA: Environmental Quality. ASA-SSSA-CSA International Annual meeting-2017, Tampa, FL. Link: https://scisoc.confex.com/crops/2017am/webprogram/Paper106723.html

Ulmer, K.M., J.L. Cox, M.K. Rakkar, R.G. Bondurant, H. Blanco-Canqui, M.E. Drewnoski, K.H. Jenkins, J.C. MacDonald, and R.J. Rasby. Effect of Corn Residue Grazing or Baling on Subsequent Crop Yield and Nutrient Removal. Abstract at 2016 ADSA/ASAS Joint Animal Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. July 2016.

 

Cox, J.L., K.M. Ulmer, M. Rakkar, L. Franzen-Castle, H. Blanco-Canqui, M.E. Drewnoski, J.C. MacDonald, and R.J. Rasby. 2016. Perceptions of crop consultants and producers in Nebraska on grazing corn residue. Abstract at 2016 Midwest Section Meeting ASAS in Des Moines, Iowa. March 16.

https://www.animalsciencepublications.org/publications/jas/abstracts/94/supplement2/28?search-result=1 doi:10.2527/msasas2016-061.

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui, R. Rasby, M.E. Drewnoski, K.M. Ulmer, and J. Cox. 2016. Regional assessment of cattle grazing and baling of corn residues in Nebraska: Implications on soil ecosystem services. SSSA Division: Soil and Water Conservation. ASA-SSSA-CSA International Annual meeting-2016, Phoenix, AZ.

https://scisoc.confex.com/crops/2017am/webprogram/Paper106723.html

Peer Reviewed Reports

Cox, J.L., K.M. Ulmer, M.K. Rakkar, L. Franzen-Castle, H. Blanco-Canqui, M.E. Drewnoski, J.C. MacDonald, and R.J. Rasby. 2017. Perceptions of crop consultants and producers on grazing corn residue in Nebraska. Nebraska Beef Report. https://beef.unl.edu/documents/2017-beef-report/201741-Perceptions-of-crop-consultants-and-producers-on-grazing-corn-residue-in-Nebraska.pdf.

Ulmer, K.M., J.L. Cox, M.K. Rakkar, R.G. Bondurant, H. Blanco-Canqui, M.E. Drewnoski, K.H. Jenkins, J.C. MacDonald, and R.J. Rasby. 2017. Effect of Corn Residue Grazing or Baling on Subsequent Crop Yield and Nutrient Removal. Nebraska Beef Cattle Report. https://beef.unl.edu/documents/2017-beef-report/201717-Effect-of-Corn-Residue-Grazing-or-Baling-on-Subsequent-Crop-Yield-and-Nutrient-Removal.pdf

Rakkar, M.K., H. Blanco-Canqui, R.J. Rasby, M.E. Drewnoski, J.C. MacDonald, K.M. Ulmer, and J.L. Cox. 2017. Regional Assessment of Cattle Grazing and Baling of Corn Residues in Nebraska: Implications on Soil Ecosystem Services. Nebraska Beef Report.

Drewnoski, Mary, Jordan Cox, Jim MacDonald, Humberto Blanco, Lisa Franzen-Castle, Rick Rasby, Beef Specialist. 2016. Nebraska Farmer Perspectives on Grazing Corn Residue. 2016. March 1, 2016. http://cropwatch.unl.edu/nebraska-farmer-perspectives-grazing-corn-residue

YouTube Video:Presented

Cornstalk Grazing Recommendations

Developed 2014: Rick Rasby

Produced by: Jeff Wilkerson and Kurtis Harms

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi3tzpmAr0Q

Website:

Crop Residue Exchange website. The website can be accessed at http://cropresidueexchange.unl.edu

Producer Presentations: title, location, Date

Field days entitled ‘Understanding the impacts of grazing and baling corn residue on subsequent crop yield across soil types with different erosion potential’; locations:

  1. 2016, Regional Assessment of Cattle Grazing and Baling of Corn Residues in Nebraska: Implications on Soil Ecosystem Services. Nov 6-9, 2016 (ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Annual Meeting). Phoenix, AZ,
  2. 2016, 16th Annual Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney, NE August 9-10, 2016. http://grassland.unl.edu/nebraskagrazingconference
  3. 2016 SARE Field Day, Mitchell Farm, Scottsbluff, NE, October 27, 2016.
  4. 2016 SARE Field Day, Brent Johnson Farm, Nebraska City, October 20, 2016.
  5. 2016 SARE Field Day, Kent Hubbert Farm, Odessa, NE, September 28, 2016.
  6. 2016 SARE Field Day, USMARC, Clay Center, NE, September 28, 2016.
  7. 2016 SARE Field Day, Steve Bejot Farm, Ainsworth, NE, September 27, 2016.
  8. 2016 SARE Field Day, Northeast Community College, Norfolk, NE. September 27, 2016.
  9. 2016 Clay Center group meeting in Clay Center, NE, August 2, 2016.
  10. 2016 ADSA/ASAS Joint Animal Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 19-23 2016.
  11. 2016 Midwest Section Meeting ASAS in Des Moines, IA, March 16, 2016.
  12. 2016 Beef Committee Meetings in Mead, NE, May 10-11, 2016.
  13. 2015 Beef Committee Meetings in Ainsworth, NE, May 11-13, 2015.
  14. 2015 Toured the USMARC sites at the 2015 Farmer and Ranchers Cow/Calf College, February 17, 2015.

Learning Outcomes

2022 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
50 Agricultural service providers reported changes in knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes as a result of their participation
Key areas taught:
  • Impact of grazing corn residue on subsequent grain yield.
  • Impact of gazing on soil compaction.
  • Proper grazing strategies.

Project Outcomes

2022 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
Key practices changed:
  • Row crop producers considered letting cows graze corn residue.

  • Crop consultants better informed their clients.

2 Grants applied for that built upon this project
1 Grant received that built upon this project
Success stories:

A crop consultant was very much against residue grazing for his clients and now, using the University of Nebraska recommendations, looks like a revenue generating opportunity.

Recommendations:

Need long-term research on the impact of baling corn residue on subsequent yield and soil characteristics. 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.