Understanding the Impacts of Grazing and Baling Corn Residue on Subsequent Crop Yields Across Various Soil Types with Different Erosion Potential

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2013: $199,059.00
Projected End Date: 11/01/2017
Grant Recipient: Unversity of Nebraska
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Rick Rasby
Unversity of Nebraska

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, rye
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing management, stocking rate, winter forage
  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Using corn residue for beef cattle production can be important, especially when forage supplies are in low supply. In the North Central Region, synergies between crops and livestock drive the sustainability of rural communities because they impact the profit potential of agriculture producers. Due to specialization in production agriculture, these synergies have been reduced or eliminated overtime by producers, and to a certain extent, due to government programs. Many row crop producers have adopted zero residue removal because of the potential impact on subsequent yield. The limited research data show residue removal does not decrease subsequent crop yields, but more experimental data are needed under a variety of environmental and soil conditions to better understand corn residue grazing and baling effects on crop yields and soil productivity on a regional scale. This project will combine on-farm and on-station research to determine the impact of corn residue grazing and baling on grain yield and soil quality at multiple sites across Nebraska. At least 6 sites (one research site and 5 cooperator fields) that differ in precipitation input, soil types, erosion potential, and cropping systems (corn after corn; soybeans after corn), and irrigation potential (irrigated and rain-fed) will be established. The research site will be established at the University Nebraska’s Agriculture Research and Development Center, while the 5 on-farm sites will be on producers’ fields. Producer cooperators have agreed to apply three treatments at their field sites; non-grazed/non bailed treatment, residue grazing, and residue baling. The research site will include a cover crop treatment in addition to the above 3 treatments. Grain and biomass yield data will be collected from all sites each year. Changes in soil quality and fertility parameters and soil water content will be measured to evaluate grazing and baling implications on soil productivity. Outreach will be essential to this project through field days at on-farm and research sites. Findings will also be presented at local, regional, and national meetings and published in thesis, journal articles, and extension publications. Application tools and guidelines will be developed to recommend sustainable management of corn residue. This on-farm project is novel because it uniquely integrates beef production with crops and soils to better understand the sustainability of rural communities. This proposal is of high priority for the University of Nebraska and fits the overreaching goals of the NC-SARE, which targets research that fosters economic profitability and stewardship of natural resources.

    Project objectives from proposal:


      1. Determine the effects of corn residue grazing and baling on subsequent grain yield and soil productivity.


      1. Deliver a database on grain yield and soil productivity as affected by residue removal under rain-fed and irrigated fields with differing erosion potentials.


      1. Determine the effects of utilizing cover crop grazing as a part of a livestock-cropping system on subsequent yield and animal performance.


      1. Deliver technology transfer and improved educational methods that include producers as cooperators and presenters on the impact of corn residue removal on subsequent yield and the use of cover crops in corn fields.


      1. Deliver guidelines for crop residue management for livestock production.


    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.