Comparing fall- and spring-planted row crop to pasture conversion after multiple years of grazed diverse continuous cover crops

Project Overview

FNC22-1332
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Knutson Shorthorns
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Zachary Knutson
Knutson Shorthorns

Commodities

No commodities identified

Practices

No practices identified

Proposal summary:

Land is continuously becoming scarcer, so many graziers are looking for ways to effectively convert row crop land to perennial pastures.  One approach becoming more popular is using continuous covers followed by establishing perennials. We want to compare fall- and spring-interseeding with a fall-planted nurse crop. The continuous covers combined with ruminants kickstarts the soil biology, the nurse crop suppresses weeds, and the baleage of the nurse crop generates cash flow to offset establishment costs.

We have a field that has been in continuous covers since October 2020. We want to graze diverse summer annuals in Summer 2022, followed by a mix of biennials in Fall 2022. We will add diverse perennials into half the field in the fall, and interseed the same perennials on the other half in Spring 2023. We will compare the nurse crop baleage quantity and quality, and pasture height in Fall 2023 to compare the plantings.

If spring-interseeding is economically comparable to fall, producers could plant the fall cover and postpone the commitment to converting the land until spring when they have more information about the upcoming marketing year. Communities also benefit from new perennial pastures being established through increased availability of local grass-fed proteins.

Project objectives from proposal:

  1. Examine fall- and spring-planted perennial pastures within continuous cover crops on land historically used for row crops
  2. Compare nurse crop yields of fall-planted and spring-interseeded perennial pastures
  3. Evaluate changes in soil test results from subsequent years of continuous cover crops 
  4. Share findings with other graziers through the Land Stewardship Project, social media websites, and via regenerative grazing group discussion
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.