Before the cover crop craze began years ago, we used to sell a lot of late summer and fall-planted forages to "extend the grazing season" in order to ease the burden of feeding hay all the while improving farmer profitability. Little did we know that our efforts in this area were also having positive benefits to soil health and subsequent cash crop productivity.
In this recent onpasture.com article, Genevieve Slocum gives several tips and procedures for making these positive benefits happen on your farm.
She covers the following areas:
- closing the nutrient cycle by grazing
- jumpstarting soil organic matter gains
- the myth that grazing automatically increases soil compaction
- grazing covers actually helps improve permanent pastures by giving them rest
- big gains are possible because forage quality can be quite good
- the benefits of plant diversity for overall soil health
If you've thought about planting cover crops, or have livestock that you can graze, give this article a look. You can find it here.
If you'd like to hear first hand how one Indiana farmer utilizes cover crops in his grazing system, follow this link for a February 19 meeting in Brown County. Here's a description from their website:
Josh Cox, a farmer in Tippecanoe County, will discuss how his parents and he have implemented grazing cover crops as a way to improve soil health for their row crops and as a way to rest their permanent pastures. Cox customizes his cover crop mix to provide quality forage for the beef cattle and to reduce compaction and add organic matter to his soils.
Here's a PDF version if you'd like to print out a copy.