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Healing Soils With Cover Crops and Cattle

Here’s a 4:13 video from the Land Stewardship Program’s Bridge to Soil Health Initiative. In it, Kaleb Anderson shows how he uses “sacrifice” pastures planted in cover crops to keep his cattle off their hilly pastures in the spring to prevent erosion and eliminate topsoil loss.Then to counteract the damage done, he lets it heal all summer long with a multi-species cover crop.

Anderson and his Dad farm what was his Grandfather’s place, raising beef, pork, corn, soybeans and hay, and cover crops. In the spring after the cattle moved to their cool season pastures, Anderson no tilled in oats to keep something on the ground and prevent weeds from taking over. Then he planted his cover crop mix. His mix includes forage corn, sorghum sudan, sunflowers, pearl millet alfalfa, some grasses, and a few radishes and turnips. He plants fewer turnips and radishes than he has in the past because they are a little rich for the cattle.

The cattle graze all fall with Anderson moving them through the pasture with electric fence. Check out how he uses his side by side to drive down the 6 foot tall cover crop to give him a lane to set up his fence.

Anderson likes this system for a number of reasons. He likes being out with the cows, and he appreciates the increase in wildlife that the multi-species cover crop attracts to his farm. He also like that he’s not taking anything off the land. The cattle graze and then deposit fertility on the fields, so there’s no loss for the soil. Finally, Anderson likes that he’s turning his cover crop into cash with beef.

Enjoy your visit to Goodhue, Minnesota!


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