Grazing Management Practices to Enhance Soil Health in the Northern Great Plains

Progress report for LNC19-426

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2019: $198,168.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Grant Recipient: North Dakota State University
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Miranda Meehan
North Dakota State University
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Project Information

Summary:

Cover crops have gained popularity as a practice implemented by producers in North Dakota to improve soil health, increase soil nutrients and soil microbial populations, reduce variability in crop yields, increase crop yields, reduce soil erosion, and increase forage options for livestock. Despite the ecological benefits of incorporating cover crops into a system, the economic benefits may not be realized if livestock are not incorporated into the system. In recent years, producers have expressed an increased interest in integrated crop livestock systems (ICLS) due to their ecological and economical returns. Livestock management decisions, such as stocking rate, utilization and stock density have the potential to impact the environmental and economic sustainability of ICLSs. There is a limited amount of information to support producers in the Northern Great Plains and other semi-arid regions in making these important management decisions. Extension professionals receive numerous inquiries from producers regarding grazing management of cover crops: the most common being related to stocking rate, stock density, and residue management. This producer lead demonstration project will provide insight to aid in the development of best management practices for managing grazing livestock in ICLSs to enhance soil health (physical, chemical and biological properties), livestock production, crop production and economic sustainability. The objective of this project is to identify the impacts of livestock grazing management on the environmental and economic sustainability of an ICLS. Specifically, the influence of stock density and forage utilization of grazing livestock on 1) soil physical,  chemical and biological properties, 2 ) crop production, 3) livestock production and 4) economics. To evaluate the effects of stock density, an annual forage crop will be subjected to the following grazing density treatments:  1) moderate and 2) high.  Additionally, two forage utilization rates will be evaluated 1) 50% and 2) 75%. A non-grazed area will serve as the control.  Project results will be disseminated through cafe talks, workshops, tours, bulletins, news articles, videos, and social media. This producer lead demonstration project will provide insight to aid in the development of best management practices for managing grazing livestock in ICLSs to enhance soil health (physical, chemical and biological properties), livestock production, crop production and economic sustainability.

Project Objectives:

The objective of this project is to identify the impacts of livestock grazing management on the environmental and economic sustainability of an ICLS. Specifically, the influence of stock density and forage utilization of grazing livestock on 1) soil physical and chemical properties, 2 ) crop production, 3) livestock production and 4) economics. This project will provide valuable information on the effects of different grazing management strategies in ICLSs, assisting producers in making management decisions. Project results will be disseminated through cafe talks, workshops, tours, bulletins, news articles, videos, and social media.

Introduction:

Cover crops have gained popularity as a practice implemented by producers across the United States. According to the USDA Census of Agriculture 15.4 million acres were planted to cover crops in 2017, up 50% from the 10.3 million acres in 2012 (USDA, 2019; USDA, 2014). North Dakota is no exception to this trend with producers incorporating cover crops to improve soil health and increase crop production (USDA, 2019; CTIC, 2017). Despite the ecological benefits of incorporating cover crops into a system, the economic benefits may not be realized if livestock are not incorporated into the system (Costa et al., 2014; Franzluebber and Stuedemann, 2015).

The benefits of integrated crop and livestock systems (ICLSs) include enhanced nutrient cycling as well as reduced inputs and livestock feeding costs. The majority of research evaluating ICLSs has been conducted in regions characterized by humid climates. Research on the ecological impacts of ICLSs in semi-arid ecosystems, such as the Northern Great Plains is limited (Faust et al., 2018).

Livestock management decisions, such as stocking rates, stock density and utilization have the potential to impact the environmental and economic sustainability of ICLSs. Limited information is available to producers in the Northern Great Plains to help make these management decisions. This producer-led demonstration project will aid in the development of best management practices for managing grazing livestock in ICLSs to enhance soil health, livestock production, crop production and economic sustainability.

Cooperators

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Research

Hypothesis:

Stock density and forage utilization of grazing livestock will increase the environmental and economic sustainability of annual crop systems as a result of 1) enhanced soil physical, chemical and biological properties, 2) increased crop production, 3) increased livestock production and 4) reduced financial inputs.

Materials and methods:

A three-year ICLS project was initiated during the spring of 2020. NDSU Extension partnered with producers to establish six demonstration sites located in central North Dakota, along with a host site on the main campus of NDSU. An annual forage crop was subjected to two grazing density treatments: 1) moderate and 2) high. Additionally, two forage utilization rates were evaluated: 1) 50% and 2) 75%. A non-grazed treatment served as the control. Treatments will be imposed for two years, followed by a cash crop.

Each location was developed to test grazing density treatments in a split-plot design. Three producers demonstrated the high stock density at two utilization rates (50% and 75%), while three producers demonstrated the moderate stock density at the same two utilization rates. The Fargo location provided a study of all treatments and utilization rates.

Forage Establishment

The annual forage crop planted by mid-June of 2020 and 2021 included and will include oats, sorghum sudangrass, foxtail millet, sunflower, radish, kale, turnip, flax and forage pea seed seeded at a rate of 18, 3, 2, 1.5, 1, 0.75, 0.75, 2 and 10 lbs/ac, respectively. Following two years of an annual forage crop, the planned cash crop will be corn planted in the spring of 2022.

Livestock and Grazing Management

Cattle were randomly assigned to grazing density treatments and carrying capacities were determined based on available forage production and estimated utilization. Stocking rates were determined by dividing the available forage by anticipated dry matter intake per day, then dividing by 30 days of planned grazing to predict the number of cows per plot. The available forage for 50% and 75% utilization treatments was calculated at 35% and 50% of the total forage produced, respectively (Meehan et al., 2018). The estimated dry matter intake was based on recommendations in the Beef Cattle Handbook (National Research Council, 2016). The moderate stock density was based on the recommended stocking rate for a 30 day period. The high stock density was set at double the moderate stock density and the grazing period reduced so as to ensure the treatment was not overgrazed. During 2020, turnout dates ranged from late August to early October.

Electric poly-wire and temporary posts were utilized as portable cross-fence to limit-graze livestock and maintain grazing efficiency. Each treatment was divided into four sections. Windbreak shelters were available for use and continued access to water was provided.

Soil Sampling

Soil samples were collected to characterize physical, chemical and biological properties. Soil physical properties included bulk density, infiltration and soil aggregate stability collected pre- and post-treatment. Six sub-samples were collected from a similar soil series within each treatment prior to seeding of annual forage crop. Samples were also collected from a nearby location that was managed as part of a traditional cash crop system. Soil chemical properties included soil nutrients, pH and organic matter collected annually with assessment of nutrient distribution occurring pre- and post-treatment only. Sub-samples for nutrient distribution were collected from each 1 acre sub-plot, whereas once yearly levels were extracted from a similar soil series within each treatment. Above ground residue was gently removed at each sampling site prior to conducting the sampling technique.

A soil core sampler with hammer attachment was used to measure bulk density at a depth of 0-6 inches. In calculating bulk density, the weight of the oven-dried soil was divided by the volume of the ring to determine lb/ft3.

Soil infiltration was determined by utilizing the Cornell Sprinkle Infiltrometer system (van Es and Shindelbeck, 2003). It consists of a portable rainfall simulator that is placed onto a single 9.5 inch inner diameter infiltration ring and allows for application of a simulated rainfall event. Field-saturated infiltrability reflects the steady-state infiltration capacity of the soil, after wet-up. It is based on the data collected at the end of the measurement period, or whenever steady-state conditions occur. Since the apparatus has a single ring, conversion factors from Reynolds and Elrick (1990) are needed to account for the three-dimensional flow at the bottom of the ring.

Soil aggregate stability samples were collected with a tiling spade to a depth of 0-6 inches. A manual wet sieving method by Six et al. (1998) was used to develop an automated method for assessing aggregate stability. Due to variation in soil across locations, the sand correction procedure by Mikha and Rice (2004) was applied to each sample to remove the sand fraction from the water stable aggregates total.

Soil nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N), carbon (C), phosphorus (P), potassium, pH, organic matter (OM), sulfate-sulfur (SO4-S), zinc and copper (Cu) were determined from samples collected at 0-6 and 6-12 inches with a 0.7 inch diameter soil probe. Soil nitrates (Vendrell and Zupancic, 2008) were measured using the Brinkmann PC910 Colorimeter. This colorimeter was also used to determine levels of P after applying the Olsen Test (Nathan and Gelderman, 2015). Potassium was measured using an atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Zinc and copper were extracted with diethylene triamine penta acetic acid and also measured with an atomic absorption spectrophotometer (Nathan and Gelderman, 2015). Recommended chemical soil test procedures for the North Central Region (Nathan and Gelderman, 2015) were used to analyze C, pH, OM and SO4-S.

 

Forage Production and Utilization

Forage production and utilization of the annual crop was estimated by clipping six 59-inch diameter hoops per experimental treatment. Clipping for peak biomass production occurred during the week prior to grazing and turnout dates ranged from late August to early October. Clipping to determine forage utilization occurred upon removal of cattle from the grazing treatments.

Livestock Performance

Beef cattle were stratified by a 2-day body weight and body condition score at the site in Fargo pre- and post-treatment, whereas cattle at the demonstration sites were scored for their body condition only. A visual scoring system developed by Wagner et al. (1988) was used to assess body condition.

Data Analysis

The demonstrations will be set-up utilizing a randomized split-plot design to evaluate the different stock densities at each location.  Data analysis will be conducted using SAS version 9.4.  Data will be analyzed to assess changes in soil physical properties, soil chemistry and soil biology, forage production, crop production and livestock production.

Economic Analysis

The economic analysis would evaluate the cost and/or revenue advantages of the grazing management practices being evaluated against a baseline system to determine if these strategies pay off based upon livestock and/or crop production advantages. The analysis will also evaluate the circumstances that make the ICLSs being demonstrated profitable or cost effective for producers. This analysis would be based upon historical and projected market prices and production costs for the systems.

Outreach Activities

NDSU Extension will partner with producers to establish several demonstration sites.  Producer involvement will provide a real world perspective of the effects grazing management practices have on ICLSs. The NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and the NDSU Main Station will also host  sites along with six livestock producers who practice ICLSs.  A series of café talks, workshops and tours will provide opportunities to disseminate results to producers, landowners, local organizations and other stakeholders during years one and two of the project. This outreach will provide stakeholders an opportunity to see the demonstrations in action and have discussions with our partner producers during the project. Other outreach efforts include, but are not limited to, journal articles, extension publications, bulletins, news articles, videos and social media. After project completion, two one-day workshops will be hosted around North Dakota by the project team and partners to comprehensively share what was learned during the on-farm demonstrations. This will allow an opportunity for all the producer partners to gather together and learn from one another as well. These workshops will be open to all local stakeholders as well as those throughout the Northern Great Plains.

Research results and discussion:

Spring conditions were dry during 2020 and 2021(Table 1). In fact, the only locations that did not start with a major deficit of moisture at the beginning of the project was Fargo and Lehr. Aside from precipitation, it is important to note that field conditions (soil type, crop history, management, etc.) are variable from site to site and may also be reflected in forage production (Table 2). For example, seeding depth was not consistent during the first year. Fargo and Jamestown seeded the annual forage crop to a depth greater than ¾ inch and experienced little to no germination of brassicas which impacted both forage production and quality. Fargo and Jamestown produced the least amount of forage in 2020, averaging 5,600 and 6,800 lbs/acre, while the rest of the sites averaged 6,900 to 12,200 lbs/acre. Though seeding depth was a challenge, strategies for successful field preparation were discussed and the problem did not persist during the 2021 planting season.

 

 

Rainfall (inches) by Month

 

Location

Year

May

June

July

Aug

Sep

Oct

Seasonal Total

Fargo1

2020

1.5

2.6

5.3

4.8

0.9

0.9

16.0

2021

0.4

3.5

0.7

3

3.3

2.7

13.6

Normal

2.8

3.9

2.8

2.6

2.6

2.2

16.9

Jamestown2

2020

2.2

0.4

3.5

2.4

0.2

0.4

9.1

2021

1.8

2.5

0.2

1.8

2.5

5.1

13.9

Normal

2.7

3.5

3.3

2.1

2.3

1.7

15.6

McKenzie1

2020

0.7

0.9

3.5

0.7

0.5

0.5

6.8

2021

1.3

1.6

1.6

1.1

1.1

3.4

10.1

Normal

2.4

3.2

2.9

2.3

1.6

1.3

13.7

Lehr1

2020

1.7

1.6

3.1

2.9

0.7

0.2

10.2

2021

3.4

1.5

1.6

6.8

3.5

4.5

21.3

Normal

2.6

3

2.7

2

1.3

1.6

13.2

McClusky2

2020

1

2

2.4

3.8

0.2

0.4

9.8

2021

1.9

2.8

1.2

2.2

1.3

4.2

13.6

Normal

2.4

3.2

2.6

2.1

1.6

1.4

13.3

Tappen1

2020

1.5

2.4

2.3

4

0.3

0.2

10.7

2021

2.2

5.1

0.6

3.2

2.5

4.1

17.7

Normal

2.6

3.2

3.2

2.2

2

1.5

14.7

1 Data obtained from or near specific locations affiliated with the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (2021).

2 Data obtained from or near specific locations affiliated with the National Weather Service (2021).

Table 1. Average monthly precipitation levels and seasonal totals (inches) by month and year as compared to normal (30-year average) at each project location during the 2020 and 2021 growing season.

Despite widespread drought in 2021, most locations were able to catch rain during the fall. The late season moisture was especially beneficial for the Fargo, Jamestown, Lehr and Tappen, boosting growth and/or re-growth of annual forage species. Even though the rain was helpful, the overwhelming lack of subsoil moisture resulted in limited forage production across all sites except for Fargo. Average forage production at each location ranged from 3,300 to 7,200 lbs/acre with Fargo having the highest production.

Drought conditions in the fall of 2020 and an early September frost slowed down or halted plant growth. While the annual forage mix was designed to meet requirements of beef cattle and maintain or improve ecological benefits, less than ideal conditions made it difficult to meet nutrient requirements of cattle late in the season. Type and class of cattle varied from site to site and grazing turnout ranged from the end of August to early October. Livestock response to forage quality was variable (Table 3). It should be noted that livestock weight is subject to considerable fluctuation day to day and only 1-day weights were collected in Fargo.

 

Treatment

2020

2021

Location

Stock
Density

Grazing
Utilization (%)

Production
(lbs/ac)

Carrying Capacity

(AUMs/ac)

Degree
of
Use (%)

Production
(lbs/ac)

Carrying Capacity

(AUMs/ac)

Degree
of
Use (%)

Fargo

No grazing

0

3914

 

 

5459

 

 

High

75

5671

2.32

62

8767

3.59

75

50

4892

1.40

47

5350

1.53

55

Moderate

75

6249

2.56

681

5681

2.33

65

50

6940

1.99

56

7972

2.29

61

Jamestown

No grazing

0

6548

 

 

3653

 

 

High

75

6490

2.66

511

5037

2.07

69

50

7181

2.06

441

6054

1.74

54

McKenzie

No grazing

0

8079

 

 

4022

 

 

High

75

7714

3.16

71

3177

1.3

72

50

9333

2.68

58

2392

0.69

51

Lehr

No grazing

0

14437

 

 

4903

 

 

Moderate

75

11017

4.52

60

4381

1.80

491

50

12725

3.65

52

5015

1.44

50

McClusky

No grazing

0

6375

 

 

3605

 

 

Moderate

75

68932

0.99

441

6187

0.89

63

50

7164

2.06

32

4733

1.36

57

Tappen

No grazing

0

6444

 

 

26593

 

 

Moderate

75

8782

3.60

611

34853

0.57

75

50

10536

3.02

431

42283

0.49

49

1Livestock pulled early due to inclement weather, limited feed or water.

2Forage production consisted of 65% weeds. Stocking rate was adjusted accordingly.

3Forage production consisted of 60% weeds. Stocking rate was adjusted accordingly.

Table 2. Average forage production (lbs/ac), carrying capacity (AUMs/ac) and degree of use (%) by grazing treatment and location during 2020 and 2021.

Type and class of cattle varied from site to site and grazing turnout ranged from late July to early October of 2021. Producers were encouraged to graze the annual forage cover crop earlier than the previous year, so that forages would offer more grazing quality to livestock. Persistent drought conditions caused concern for nitrate toxicity and prussic acid poisoning. Samples were collected and tested prior to grazing turnout to ensure that forages were safe. The livestock response to forage quality continued to be variable (Table 3). Forage re-growth was substantial enough in Jamestown and McKenzie that treatments were re-grazed to maintain the assigned forage utilization.

Soil samples were collected to characterize physical, chemical and biological properties. Information collected in year one will serve as a baseline for evaluating response to treatments. Soil nutrient data, extracted from 0-6 inches, from year one is reported in Table 4. No other measurements were collected in 2021.

 

Treatment

 

2020

 

 

2021

 

Location

Stock
Density

Grazing
Utilization (%)

Type of Cattle

Cow ADG

Calf ADG

Change in BCS

# of Grazing Days

Type of Cattle

Cow ADG

Calf ADG

Change in BCS

# of Grazing Days

Fargo

High

75

Pairs

-1.8

2.1

1

18

Pairs

-7.0

0.8

0

26

50

-1.7

1.9

1

11

-5.1

1.4

0

10

Moderate

75

-4.6

2.0

0

351

-3.0

1.7

-1

34

50

-4.2

2.4

0

28

-2.7

1.9

0

34

Jamestown

High

75

Pairs and heifers

 

 

0

331

Pairs

 

 

0

61

50

 

 

0

331

 

 

0.5

46

McKenzie

High

75

Heifers

 

 

0

41

Heifers

 

 

0

17

50

 

 

0

36

 

 

0

13

Lehr

Moderate

75

Fall calving cows

 

 

0

62

Heifers

 

 

0.5

541

50

 

 

0.5

64

 

 

0

45

McClusky

Moderate

75

Pairs

 

 

-2

242

Pairs

 

 

0

25

50

 

 

-1

241

 

 

0

20

Tappen

Moderate

75

Pairs and heifers

 

 

NA

181

Pairs

 

 

0

163

50

 

 

NA

181

 

 

0

93

1Livestock pulled from grazing trial early due to inclement weather, limited feed or water.

2Forage production consisted of 65% weeds. Stocking rate adjusted accordingly.

3Forage production consisted of 60% weeds. Stocking rate adjusted accordingly.

Table 3. Type of cattle, average daily gain (ADG), change in body condition score (BCS) and number of grazing days by treatment and location during 2020 and 2021.

Location

Soil Ecological Type

Grazing Treatment

NO3-N

(lbs/acre)

P

(ppm)

K (ppm)

pH

OM (%)

SO4-S (lbs/ac)

Zn (ppm)

Cu (ppm)

Fargo

Clayey Subsoil

Baseline

7.0

8.5

315.0

7.3

5.3

14.1

0.9

2.2

No grazing

17.3

3.7

458.3

7.9

6.9

70.2

0.7

1.6

High, 75%

26.7

6.8

339.2

7.4

7.3

17.0

0.9

1.2

High, 50%

32.6

4.0

440.0

7.6

6.6

22.0

1.0

1.6

Moderate, 75%

19.2

9.2

487.0

7.6

6.1

10.6

0.9

1.5

Moderate, 50%

25.5

5.5

295.8

7.5

7.0

15.7

0.9

1.0

Jamestown

Loam

Baseline

5.0

16.9

248.0

6.6

3.5

59.3

1.3

0.8

No grazing

12.5

15.0

183.3

6.7

4.3

163.0

1.2

0.5

High, 75%

14.7

21.3

188.3

7.0

3.4

105.2

1.2

0.3

High, 50%

18.4

36.2

242.0

6.3

4.1

147.0

1.6

0.3

McKenzie

Loam

Baseline

14.0

4.2

215.0

5.8

2.6

6.1

0.6

0.5

No grazing1

41.3

8.8

299.2

6.5

4.3

163.3

1.9

0.6

High, 75%

20.8

2.8

174.0

6.2

2.0

5.4

0.3

0.4

High, 50%

22.3

2.3

218.3

6.0

2.5

6.0

0.4

0.3

Lehr

Loam

Baseline

17.0

7.2

256.0

7.3

4.3

93.8

1.0

1.0

No grazing

24.5

3

213.3

7.5

4.9

100.2

0.7

0.4

Moderate, 75%

22.5

2.3

185.8

7.4

3.0

17.0

0.9

0.5

Moderate, 50%

26.8

4.7

275.8

7.3

4.0

23.8

0.9

0.5

McClusky

Loam

Baseline

31.0

9.7

427.0

7.0

3.9

27.1

1.0

0.6

No grazing

15

4.2

315.0

7.4

4.7

20

0.4

0.4

Moderate, 75%

20.6

7.4

280.0

7.2

5.2

11.8

0.6

0.5

Moderate, 50%

21.3

6.3

431.7

7.0

5.0

10.3

0.8

0.5

Tappen

Very droughty loam

Baseline

20.0

7.5

243.0

7.5

3.9

7.1

1.4

0.5

No grazing

22.8

7.2

363.3

7.7

5.1

8.2

1.8

0.5

Moderate, 75%2

16.5

4.8

184.2

8.1

3.3

32

0.3

0.5

Moderate, 50%2

15.5

5.5

305.8

8.1

4.3

6.2

0.3

0.7

1Cattle broke into control during final week of grazing in 2020.

2Grazing activity was limited due to issues with water toxicity in 2020.

Table 4. Soil nutrient and biological analysis at 0-6 inches (in) sampled within a similar soil series at each project location.

 

Participation Summary
6 Farmers participating in research

Education

Educational approach:

In 2020 we hosted a webinar series on grazing cover crops. Participated in nine cafe talks and panel discussion on livestock integration into cropping systems. Developed an in-service training, cover crop kits, cover crop cost calculator and Extension publication to utilized in Extension outreach. The project team filmed six video on grazing cover crops. In addition six news releases and seven media interview were completed.

Project Activities

Grazing Cover Crops Webinar Series
Cover Crop In-Service
Annual Cover Crop Options for Grazing and Haying in the Northern Plains
Crop and Soil Center Annual Forages Tour

Educational & Outreach Activities

500 Consultations
10 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
8 On-farm demonstrations
9 Published press articles, newsletters
1 Tours
22 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Workshop field days
10 Other educational activities: podcast, in-service training, media interviews

Participation Summary:

646 Farmers participated
767 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

Summary of Extension activities completed in 2020:

  • 9 café talks focused on livestock integration with 217 participants.
  • Grazing cover crop panel during DIRT workshop had 303 participants
  • Hosted Cover Crop In-Service for Extension, NRCS and SCD personnel that was attended by 45 people
  • Created a Cover Crop Cost Calculator for producers
  • Revised the Annual Cover Crop Options for Grazing in the Northern Plains publication, accessed 642 times online and 50 print copies were distributed.
  • Created kits for Extension agents, NRCS and SCD personnel to grow cover crops to use in their programing efforts, distributed kits to 15 participants.
  • Hosted a Grazing Cover Crop Webinar Series that reached 392 participants that increased participants knowledge of grazing cover crops between 51 and 97 percent. The recordings received 1,030 views.
  • Wrote 6 articles and news releases about grazing cover crops that reached an estimated 160,000 individuals.
  • Conducted 7 media interviews about grazing cover crops that reached an estimated 302,000 individuals.
  • Filmed 6 videos on grazing cover crops that had 1,717 views.
  • The NDSU Stutsman County Extension agent presented to 32 individuals at 2 meetings on cover crop selections. Producers that attended the meeting increased their ability to select cover crops was rated 53% before and 80% after the workshop.

Summary of Extension activities completed in 2021:

  • Co-hosted Soil Talk Tuesday on Making Soil Health Practices Fit had 44 participants.
  • Spoke during Soil Health Communications Workshop, Making the Connection On-Farm this virtual session had 74 participants.
  • Hosted Preparing Your Ranch for Drought: Supplemental Feed & Forage Options Webinar, which included a discussion of using annual forage to increase management flexibility and drought resilience, had 49 participants.
  • Demonstration was a stop on the NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center Field Day, a project update was given to 100 participants.
  • Discussed Integrated Crop Livestock Systems at Soil and Crop Center with 219 participants.
  • Created handout outlining fencing materials and options for grazing cover crops.
  • Co-hosted Integrated Crop Livestock Grazing Tour at the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center, which had 12 participants.
  • Two county based soil health meetings that included discussions of livestock integration, which reached 60 individuals
  • Annual Cover Crop Options for Grazing in the Northern Plains publication, accessed 1,157 times online and 66 print copies were distributed.
  • Wrote 3 articles and news releases about grazing cover crops that reached an estimated 15,000 individuals.
  • Conducted 8 media interviews about grazing cover crops that reached an estimated 100,00 individuals.
  • Over 278 direct contacts regarding cover crops and integrated crop livestock systems.

The project team has been sharing initial project results at meeting and workshops this winter. The project results will be shared at tours and meetings in 2022.

Learning Outcomes

81 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
259 Agricultural service providers reported changes in knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes as a result of their participation
Key areas taught:
  • Calculating forage production and stock rates for grazing cover crops.
  • Selecting cover crop species for grazing.
  • Soil health and economic benefits of grazing cover crops.
  • Potential toxicity issues when grazing cover crops.
  • Grazing management considerations for integrated crop livestock systems.
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.