Building sustainable relationships around the use of grazing cover crops on dairy and livestock farms in Southern Wisconsin

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2019: $39,900.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2022
Grant Recipient: Dane County Land Conservation
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Marie Raboin
Dane County Land Conservation


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing - rotational, winter forage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    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.

    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.