Conversion of Row Crop Acreage to Beef Cattle Pasture Using Sorghum-Sudangrass

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2021: $9,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Fischer Farms
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Dave Fischer
Fischer Farms


  • Agronomic: annual ryegrass, sorghum sudangrass


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, grazing management, grazing - rotational
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, farm-to-restaurant
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: organic matter

    Proposal summary:

    We intend to use the grant funds to aid in the transition of row crop ground into regenerative pasture for our cattle through the use of summer forages that are known for improving soil health and carbon sequestering, specifically sorghum sudangrass. Growing corn and other row crops on our rolling hills in Indiana contributes to runoff and deterioration of soil nutritional value. Soil health has been depleted in the United States due to poor field management that focuses on short term yields and profitability over long term soil health and sustainability. The intent of this project is to offset some costs associated with making the transition and to show our extended network of farmers the positive impact.

    Sequestering carbon from the air is one of the best opportunities we have to reverse global warming and offset fossil fuel emissions. In addition to the environmental impacts, ongoing operational expenses will also be lower due to lower seed costs and reduced equipment costs. The conversion from cropped acres to cattle pastures with purposeful herd management (e.g., rotational grazing, pasture finished) creates a more balanced ecosystem with healthier soils, healthier cattle, and overall a more sustainable operation for farmers and their families.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Evaluate the impact on soil health of new forages and rotational grazing
    2. Evaluate cattle health (i.e., body condition score, illness rates, rate of gain) on tested forages
    3. Determine appropriate forages for regional climate and terrain
    4. Assess economic viability of transition from row crop to pasture (input costs vs. feed value and offset costs such as reduced fertilizer, herbicide, and insecticides)
    5. Share findings to farmers and end customers via blog posts, social media, and conferences.
    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.