Wisconsin loses on average of one dairy farm per day. The price of milk, regardless of trade deals, is not going to significantly increase in the near future. Livestock producers, both large and small, need to find innovative ways to reduce input costs and improve profitability. Grazing of fall-planted cover crops can significantly reduce feed costs when properly managed. In addition to providing an additional source of forage, cover crops reduce soil erosion, improve soil microbiology, increase infiltration and sequester carbon. This project will promote the use of cover crops by making an economical and environmental sustainability case on livestock farms in Southern Wisconsin. There is evidence from other areas that this is a successful practice, but examples of farms in Southern Wisconsin is needed to promote the practice in this dairy heavy agricultural area. Farmers respect and learn from other farmers. This project will be successful because it will focus on pairing farmers who utilize cover crops for grazing from other areas in the state with farmers in Southern Wisconsin. Several farms in Southern Wisconsin are interested in this practice, but need the support of experienced farmers to be successful.
Project objectives from proposal:
By promoting the idea of a farming community, the objective of this project is to support livestock farms to implement the practice of grazing fall planted cover crops leading to a wider spread implementation of this practice across the Southern Wisconsin landscape. This will be accomplished by utilizing existing knowledge of farmers around the state paired with institutional knowledge from local extension and county agency staff. At the end of the 2 year project we will have introduced this management practice to a wide range of farmers and conservation staff through a network of farms using the practice.