Adapting Cover Crops to Northern Climate Conventional Cropping Systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2014: $22,471.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: Mach Farms
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Troy Salzer
Carlton County Extension
Abe Mach
Mach Farms

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: barley, oats, rye
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: grazing management
  • Crop Production: cover crops, double cropping
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil quality/health

    Proposal summary:

    Northeast Minnesota has a very large cow/calf industry, which in recent years has struggled with depressed profit margins. One of the problems attributed to the depression of profit margins is the cost of feeding stored feeds in the winter. Cover crops offer a potential solution to this problem as a way to increase forage production and extend the grazing season into the fall, while diversifying crop rotations and adding ground cover for soil and water quality benefits. This project will take place from 2014-2015 and will involve three cow/calf producers in NE Minnesota (Carlton, Pine, and St. Louis Counties).  Each farmer will dedicate ten acres where small grains will be planted in May-June, harvested as forage in mid-August, and immediately no-till planted into a turnip, rye, and pea cover crop with the hope to produce a fall forage crop for grazing.  The project is being shared with area farmers through field days, handouts, a road sign, and newsletter articles. Also the site has been offered as a training tool for local public agencies such as SWCD and NRCS.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will be evaluated from two standpoints -
    1) Did the project effectively demonstrate to the agricultural industry in northeastern Minnesota how cover crops can be utilized in the area?
    2.) Are cover crops a viable way to reduce the need for costly stored feeds in cattle production in the region?

    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.