Grazing Cover Crops for Soil Health and Profit

Thanks to Elisabeth Spratt of the Pasture Project for this article on their recently finished project! If you raise crops and are looking for a way to improve your soils and your bottom line, Wade Dooley says cover crops grazed by livestock is your solution. “It is the best and fastest way to realize an economic return on using cover crops while at the same time improving your soil conditions.” While cover crops provide major benefits, livestock grazing accelerates the process while offsetting the cost of winter feed. “You can’t go faster than with cows, as far as showing a net return on a single year cycle,” says Dooley, adding, “If they’re worried about a one-year lease or a one-year return, they can show their banker: cows are the way to go.” Dooley is a sixth-generation farmer who operates Glenwood Century Farm in Albion, Iowa. He’s also one of eight cooperating farmers in Iowa and Minnesota who have been participating in cover crop grazing trials since 2015. Led by the Pasture Project, an initiative of the Wallace Center at Winrock International, along with Practical Farmers of Iowa, the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, and Land Stewardship Project, the trials focused on quantifying just how much benefit participants were getting out of grazing cover crops. Dr. Allen Williams,

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