Science backs profits from grazing cover crops

Planting a cover crop after corn, soybeans or wheat makes Jeff Rasawher an additional $200/acre. For forage cover crops that he harvests and sells, he makes even more, ranging from $300-400/acre. When he puts his herd of Black Angus on the cover crops, his profits climb to close to $500/acre. The cover crops are making him money because they reduce the amount of fertility he has to apply the rest of the year. He plants a diverse mix of cover crops, finding the boon in the the diversity. The funny thing is that, even though cover crops do all sorts of amazing things to the soil and bottom line, not everyone plants them. The number is climbing slowly; only 12% of Midwest farmers used them in 2010, and less than 2% of agricultural land in the Mississippi River basin gets cover cropped. Even though there are plenty of folks who believe in the benefits, some say it would take incentive payments of about $23/acre to get them to sign up and plant. Whenever we think of adopting a practice, it comes down to the bottom line. Jeff's experiences boosting his bottom line by hundreds of dollars per acre when he grazes cover crops sound too good to be true. He's backed up by research, though. Most recently, scientists in

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