- Animals: bovine
- Crop Production: cover crops
- Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems
- Soil Management: soil analysis
The biggest challenge that annual cropland farmers face in California is how to keep their soil healthy and productive at the end of the annual crop cycle.
What are the opportunities and challenges of incorporating summer cover crops and livestock on conventional annual farming systems?
We will be studying the various impacts of three different treatments utilizing summer cover crops. This will promote healthy soils, livestock, and our environment. In the areas promoted we also hope to have a positive social impact by reducing our carbon footprint by regenerating soils. We hope by showing we can keep our soil productive in the "off season" that more growers will implement summer cover crops to promote healthy soils and increase economic value by either grazing or baling. We will share the outcomes of our project with on site fields days, newsletters, and local grower meetings.
Project objectives from proposal:
The objectives of this project are to:
- Quantify the economics of three termination strategies for a summer cover crop including grazing, baling, and discing to incorporate residue into the field (control treatment).
- Quantify changes in soil health for three termination strategies for a summer cover crop including grazing, baling, and discing to incorporate residue into the field (control treatment).
Education and outreach objectives are to:
- Demonstrate opportunities to profitability incorporate livestock into annual rotations.
- Reduce barriers to summer cover cropping and livestock incorporation by increasing knowledge and awareness of how to manage these practices.
- Increase communication between farmers and ranchers in the region to further opportunities for grazing on annual cropland.
- These objectives will be accomplished through:
- Outreach events: a field day will be organized at the farm to discuss the project. This field day will help meet all three objectives outlined above by 1) visually demonstrating how to manage livestock on cropland and providing information about the economics of each treatment; 2) Ted and Ben will present on their experiences and observations with the project including the logistics of managing animals in a rotation; unexpected challenges and opportunities; considerations for scaling up the practice; 3) these events will be advertised widely through UC Cooperative Extension and partner collaborator networks in order to ensure good attendance. At these events time will be dedicated to discussion on the challenges and opportunities for both farmers and ranchers of livestock integration. Sarah Light led a farmer-rancher discussion on livestock integration in annual systems in 2021 and this project will build upon that outreach work.
- Written communication. Findings from this project will be written up and shared via UC Cooperative Extension newsletters and blogs. In addition, a story about the project will be submitted for consideration to other relevant publications in the state to increase the reach of this work. Sarah Light will post a project summary on her UC Cooperative Extension webpage within one year of project completion. Educational and outreach objectives 1 and 2 will be met by this written communication.
- Presentations: Technical Advisors Sarah Light and Josh Davy frequently give presentation to grower audiences and will incorporate information about this project into relevant talks about soil health or grazing. These presentations will help meet objectives 1 and 2.
- Video presentations: Producer project leaders will produce a short video in the field on project observations during the course of the project. The target audience of this video will be farmers and ranchers. This video will be shared with regional producers and will help meet objectives 1, 2, and 3 of this project.