Inclusion of winter barley in cropping systems can increase crop diversity, thus potentially buffering against volatile or low commodity prices. The rapidly expanding craft malting and brewing industries creates a demand for regionally grown barley and can provide a more stable market value for barley growers. Furthermore, winter barley can be harvested up to three weeks before winter wheat, which provides a critical window to add a second crop and improve net profit per acre. In addition to potential economic benefits, double-cropping winter barley and soybeans can improve environmental sustainability by requiring lower inputs than corn or spring barley, providing a winter “cover,” and subsequently placing lower stress on water quality compared to other traditional field crops. To examine the potential for double-cropping with malting barley in the Great Lakes region, a diverse team of farmers, industry representatives, MSU Extension Educators and faculty have assembled to explore this opportunity through on-farm research and targeted outreach efforts. Although the project will be based in southern and mid-Michigan, its outcomes will impact the entire North Central Region where winter malting barley is a re-emerging crop but lacks significant research on double-cropping options.
Project objectives from proposal:
The project goal is to develop agronomic management practices and better understand the economics of double- cropping beans after winter barley. Objectives include:
- Support on-farm research trials throughout Michigan, representing the Great Lakes region where malting barley is a re-emerging crop
- Evaluate detailed research questions related to double-crop integration in a controlled university setting
- Further develop a robust partnership between farmers, extension, faculty, and industry
- Distribute information throughout the region on methods and economics to farmers, industry representatives, and educators
- Explore potential for improved profitability of barley cropping systems and increased ecosystem services (e.g. soil health, reduced nutrient loss, increased biodiversity)