A couple weeks ago, Brendon Rockey, a potato farmer, shared how he developed an agreement with a neighbor to graze his cover crops. His takeaways for developing agreements are something any of us can use. To add to that, this week, we listen in on a conversation among crop growers who are also working with graziers to manage their cover crops. It can help you understand what’s important to a crop grower. That way, if you’re interested in working with with a neighboring farmer to benefit their crops and your livestock, you can start off on the right foot.
Thanks for this 3:03 video go to Buz Kloot and his team. It’s part of the NRCS-sponsored series Soil Health How-To.
Marlon Winger, Regional Specialist, NRCS Soil Health Division, WY, ID, MT: So we’re getting some carbon in the ground, we’re getting some diversity, we’re getting some live root. What about livestock grazing, Brian? Will livestock eat this? Are you getting a benefit? Or is it all for the soil?
Brian Kossman, Farmer, Paul, Idaho: No, from where we sit, we look at it more from a microbiology builder and a soil health builder and a livestock grazing side. Then there’s a number of different sheep produces in the area, a couple of guys that I grew up with that are my neighbors. They raise sheep and the they bring their sheep over and they pay me rent on a daily basis on having their animals on my place. So I want, from an economics stand point, I want them on my place for as long as possible so that check it better. I want them on m place as long as possible to get the animal activity on it. And I want them to be happy.
What we’ve started this year, on our own is, we’re going to graze some of our own cattle on it. So we need to look a little bit from the standpoint of we need some of that diversity. We need a little more fiber out there for the cattle to do well. To make good cattle feed. We’ll keep our cool season grass. We won’t spray it out. We’ll let it continue to grow. And we’ve come to notice too that we do like those fibrous roots of the cool season grass anyway. They do a lot for mycorrhizal fungi colonization. And they do more than you would ever think for compaction.
Buz Kloot: And just explain cool season grasses are not things you put in your cover crop mix.
Brian Kossman, Farmer, Paul, Idaho: No, we don’t add a cool season to our cover crop mix because we’re following a cereal grain. So that cereal grain might be winter barley or winter soft white or spring soft white or spring barley and those cool season grasses. We do throw a little bit out behind the combine as we’re combining so they’re out thee in the field. So that’s a component. We don’t add a cool season grass to any cover crop mix. It’s king of already there.
Luke Adams, Farmer, Rupert, Idaho: For us, the two key things once we added the sheep in, was trying to knock down those vole burrows. Because it really does make a big difference if you have an animal in there just knocking those down so you can’t build a population as well. And then we know we’re cycling that manure. It’s really interesting to come in in the spring and walk the field and see what manure you have there. I always assume I’m losing maybe 15 to 30 percent in the livestock as they go away. But then we’re offset by getting a little bit of grazing money. It offsets both some of the fertilizer and some of the seed cost.