Summer forage crop options for North-Central Nebraska counties to improve production, forage quality, and soil health

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $29,978.00
Projected End Date: 02/15/2026
Grant Recipient: LickingAg
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal summary:

The lack of successful summer forage species in the North Central
counties of Nebraska has reduced the summer forage options for
ranchers in the area, increased the weed pressure, reduced forage
production and quality, and affected soil health.

Project objectives from proposal:

We will conduct six (6) summer forage variety/mix trials across
five (5) counties (Arthur, Grant, Hooker, Thomas, and Brown) in
North Central Nebraska for two years. The four ranchers' team
members will conduct trials in their pivot-irrigated fields under
winter or spring forage/summer forage rotation. Each trial (up to
20 ac total) will have up to nine (9) different summer forages
and the current rancher's summer forage. Each summer forage plot
will be half an acre (0.5 ac) and replicated four times (2 ac
total per summer forage) in a completely random or block design
depending on the field and recommendation of the Cropping Systems
Team from Nebraska Extension. The different forage
varieties/mixes facilitated by the regional sales agronomist are
expected to offer sustainable agriculture benefits and solutions
to rancher team members regarding forage production, feed
quality, and soil health improvements.

We will seed the summer forage plots (up to 40 per trial) from
late May to early June 2024 and conduct the first (baseline) soil
health test in the experimental area. Before the first cut, we
will collect biomass in each plot and send samples to a local
plant and soil lab for forage production and quality analysis.
The same operations will be conducted in the summer of 2025 at
the exact georeferenced location. It is important that the same
plot treatments are repeated in the same area in the second year
to track changes in soil health. Other observations on weed
pressure, duration of forage crop, etc will be recorded. Extra
biomass and soil samples may be collected by the Cropping Systems
Team from Nebraska Extension if recommended.

Each rancher team member will show plots to neighbors and the
local community interested in the trials. In the summer of 2025,
the Cropping Systems Team from Nebraska Extension will help
coordinate an outreach event to show results and learnings from
ranchers' team members. Moreover, results from these trials will
be shared with the Cropping Systems Team from Nebraska Extension
to extend the findings and learning to a broad audience through
their CropWatch and Variety Testing free access online platforms.
Finally, ranchers' team members, the regional sales agronomist,
and the Cropping Systems Team from Nebraska Extension will meet
annually in the fall to discuss summer trial findings.


1_Evaluate summer forage production and feed quality from up to
nine (9) different summer varieties/mixes in North Central

2_Track soil health change due to summer forage choice for two

3_ Share findings and collaborative experience with the local

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.