Utilizing cover crops to increase productivity, health - vigor on tame grass pasture

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2013: $6,904.86
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Donnie Feiring
Feiring's Cattle Co.

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: millet, sorghum (milo), soybeans, sunflower
  • Vegetables: radishes (culinary), turnips
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing management, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, stocking rate, winter forage
  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, cover crops, no-till, nutrient cycling
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration, biodiversity, soil stabilization
  • Production Systems: holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: earthworms, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil microbiology, soil chemistry, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    We would like to improve the health, vigor and productivity of 50 acres of tame grass pasture. These acres were cropped at one point in time and then seeded back to smooth bromegrass about 30 years ago. The productivity, health and vigor of the plants are declining and they are becoming less productive every year. We currently do not own any equipment and would prefer to not farm these acres. We are looking at nontraditional ways of rejuvenating the pasture without using conventional tillage practices. Our goal is to do more, with less. There are many tame grass pastures in western North Dakota. I see a lot of old fields that could find a way to get more production and better soil health.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    * Bale graze the entire area where the 4 plots will be set up during the winter of 2012-13.
    * Move the cows to a native grass pasture during calving, which will start April 15th.
    *Allow the brome grass to grow to boot stage.
    * Conduct soil samples to attain biological and chemical analysis prior to starting the project.
    * Spray the 20 acres with Roundup to set the grass back around June 1st.
    * Seed 20 acres to a multi specie cover crop mix on June 15th.
    * Monitor plots with photos.
    * Host a stop on the 2013 Golden Valley Crop tour in July.
    * Electric fence the area to be grazed - September 15th.
    * Strip graze the 20 acres of cover crop starting October 1st. We plan to graze the 20 acres of cover crop utilizing high stock density grazing techniques with approximately 100,000 pounds per acre depending on cattle needs, performance and available forage.
    * In 2014, we would bale graze the 20 acres that were seeded to cover crop in 2013 and seed another 20 acres to multi specie cover crop.
    * When the project is complete, there will be 10 acres that have had nothing done to them, 20 acres that had cover crop and then bale grazed, 20 acres that had only cover crop and 20 acres that had only bale grazing.
    * Once the project is complete in 2014, we would like to host a range tour to share the results.
    * Conduct soil samples to attain biological and chemical analysis after completing the project.

    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.