Double Cropping Field Peas Offer Economic Sustainability for Midwest Swine Producers

2006 Annual Report for LNC05-257

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $109,651.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Jim Fawcett
Iowa State University

Double Cropping Field Peas Offer Economic Sustainability for Midwest Swine Producers


Project Outcomes: The feasibility of growing field peas in Southeast Iowa will be completed. Double cropped field peas will be evaluated for disease, insect susceptibility, yield and nutrition attributes and the economics compared to the standard corn-soybean rotation. Swine producers who grow and use field peas as a source of protein and energy in swine diets could potentially increase profits by more than $35,000.

Background: The typical Iowa swine farmer raises about 5000 head of hogs as well as corn and soybeans. In order to use soybeans as a protein source for the swine it is necessary to process the soybeans. Field peas have been grown successfully by farmers in other states and countries and used as a substitute for soybean meal. Inputs which require no processing, grown and used on the farm have generally improved farm profits.

Approach/Methods: Small scale ISU replicated research plots as well as field scale cooperator plots will be set up to evaluate variety selection, time of planting, harvesting techniques, and pest management of field peas. Feeding trials will evaluate the economical inclusion rates of field peas into swine rations.

Evaluation: Economic evaluation based on net return per acre, comparing field peas in a double-crop production system compared to the control which for this study is the current corn/soybean rotation with the purchase of soybean meal from off farm commercial sources. The second part of the evaluation will be the economic return to the producer feeding field peas compared to the control. Evaluation will be based on performance of the swine comparing health, cost/lb of gain, average daily gain, and feed efficiency.

Objectives/Performance Targets

In the short term, crop producers in Southeast Iowa will increase their knowledge of how field peas can fit into their crop rotational system, including information on variety selection, time of planting, harvesting techniques, and pest management. Pork producers will learn that field peas raised in the Midwest provide an excellent source of protein and energy for use in swine diets. Intermediate term outcomes will be an increase in the profitability of crop and swine producers. Profits will also become more sustainable by introducing two new crops into the rotation. At current prices, the net profit from the wheat/field pea crop has the potential to be more than the net profit provided by either corn or soybeans. Swine producers will have an alternative protein/energy source for swine diets if soybean meal costs become prohibitive due to increased soybean pest problems, including soybean rust. Unlike soybeans, field peas do not have to be processed, so pork producers could grow and feed peas without them ever leaving the farm. A long term outcome will be the widespread adoption of the new cropping system and the use of peas in swine rations throughout the Midwest, increasing the sustainability of agriculture.


A double cropping system utilizing spring planted field peas followed by soybeans was successful in 2005, with pea yields of 40-50 bu/A and double cropped soybean yields of greater than 20 bu/A in both field scale trials and small plot research. Yields of both crops were less in 2006, probably partly due to later planting dates in 2006 and to unusually warm weather in late May when the peas were flowering and setting pods. A winter pea variety planted in the fall of 2005 at the SE Iowa Research & Demonstration Farm yielded slightly better than the spring pea varieties, but did not mature any sooner. One cooperator experimented with double-cropped milo after spring planted peas in 2006 and achieved milo yields of greater than 60 bu/A, even with a July 10 milo planting date.

The double cropping system of winter wheat followed by summer planted peas was not successful in either 2005 or 2006. Although winter wheat yields were very good in both years, the best field pea yield achieved was 19 bu/A with a late July planting date of the variety “Admiral” in small plots in 2005. Pea yields in field scale plots have generally been less than 10 bu/A. More focus will be placed on spring planted peas followed by double cropped soybeans or milo in future field scale trials.

The first feed trial was conducted the fall/winter of 2005-06 involving a 1200 head finishing site with two replications of each treatment – 1) corn-soy, 2) Eclipse (variety) 300 lbs/ton field pea inclusion, 3) WFP 0097 (variety) 300 lb/ton field pea inclusion. Due to an outbreak of Circovirus within the site only one replication of each treatment was used in the final analysis. Performance of pigs on all diets was affected by disease outbreak but field pea and corn-soy diets showed no difference on ADG – 1) corn-soy 1.99 lbs ADG, 2) Eclipse 1.92 lbs ADG, 2.04 lbs ADG, 3) WFP0097 2.02 lbs ADG. Feed efficiency was by whole group which showed 1) corn-soy 2.77 lbs FE, 2) Eclipse 2.63, 2.70, 3) WFP 0097 2.26. Rations were balanced for caloric intake. Excellent results were obtained from feeding field peas. The feed efficiency of the WFP 0097 variety of field peas showed a statistical improvement over the other two diets.

A feeding trial using market barrows was conducted at the ISU Swine Nutrition Research Farm, Ames, IA during the fall of 2006. There were four replications of four treatments – 1) corn-soy, 2) winter peas, 3) spring peas, and 4) summer peas. Performance was excellent and although the data is not analyzed, the pigs fed pea diets (30% inclusion rate) grew well and converted efficiently. Complete nutrient analysis of the peas and supplementation with crystalline amino acids was integral to successful feeding of the peas.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Midwest crop and swine producers are learning about the possibility of increasing their economic sustainability by utilizing double-cropped field peas in swine rations by seeing the many articles that have appeared in the press about the project. Area producers learned about double cropped field peas at a field day held at the SE Iowa Research Farm near Crawfordsville in 2005 at on Amana Farms in the spring of 2006. Presentations on the project results were presented at the Agronomy Society Association conference in Indianapolis and at the Integrated Crop Management Conference in Ames, IA in November of 2006.


Shaun Greiner
Swine Producer
2453 Kiwi Ave
Washington, IA 52353
Terry Erb
3265 320th St
Wellman, IA 52356
Office Phone: 3196462855
Tom Bonnichsen

Crop Producer
15771 Hwy 92
Letts, IA 52754
Steve Fouch
Organic Farmer
92nd Ave
Pleasantville, IA
Office Phone: 6418427167
John Stanton
1404 County Road D61
Bernard, IA 52032
Office Phone: 5638527206
Tom Miller
Project Planning Specialist (Agriculture)
Iowa State University Extension
209 South Marion Ave.
Washington, IA 52353
Office Phone: 3196534811
Rich Gassman
Crop Manager
Amana Farms
P.O. Box 189
Amana, IA 52203
Office Phone: 3196223791
Brad Dvorsky
Crop Producer
2038 Jordan Creek Rd NE
Solon, IA 52333
Office Phone: 3196243062
James Petersen
Organic Farmer
Quebec St
Knoxville, IA
Office Phone: 6418287490