Overseeding Standing Soybeans with Wheat for Soil Cover and Grazing
Although no-till reduced erosion incidence, spring rains deteriorates bean stubble. The resulting bare field is highly susceptible to erosion. Low-cost winter pasture restricts erosion while supplementing calf forage costs, as well as providing green manure for the following summer’s crop.
Objectives: 1) To protect the bare soybean field from erosion, 2) to provide winter grazing for low-cost gains on stocker and feeder calves, 3) to help make more profitable livestock that would, in turn, promote wildlife cover within pastures, and 4) to determine how much wheat stand can be established with aerial seeding so that there is adequate cover for the soil and forage for the calves in order to pay for its own cost.
The producer hired a custom aerial seeder to plant one and one-half bushels of wheat seed into a 195-acre soybean field when the bean plant leaves began turning yellow in early fall. One month later, the producer harvested the beans and noted the wheat to be about five or six inches tall. He top-dressed the wheat with fertilizer and turned out 44 calves to graze the field for 36 days. The producer harvested the wheat, instead of grazing feeder calves or planting the field to corn, soybeans or sorghum for the summer.
Results: Drought prevented aerial wheat seeding the first year and the project was extended. Wheat was successfully planted the second year. Grazing stocker calves gained an average 1.22 pounds per head per day.
The wheat’s groundcover traits were successful, although difficult to measure because of an unusually cold, wet winter.