Evaluating Rotations of Cover Crops and Summer Annual Forages

Grazing cover crops

Title:  Evaluating rotations of cover crops and summer annual forages for yield, nutritional value, effect on soil nutrient profile, and economic sustainability as forage resources for beef cattle

Location:  Armstrong Research Farm, Lewis, IA.  Neely-Kinyon Farm, Greenfield, IA.  McNay Research Farm, Chariton, IA

Time Period:  2019-2023

Research Team:  Chris Clark, Erika Lundy, Patrick Wall, and Aaron Saeugling

Project Description:  Researchers are using replicated forage test plots on southern Iowa research farms to provide beef producers with research-based information on cool season and warm season annual forage feeding value, expected yields, and impact on soil nutrient profile.  The study began with baseline soil samples and seeding of summer annuals in summer of 2019.  Crop rotation will consist of summer annual forage species such as pearl millet, sorghum-sudangrass, and forage sorghum followed by fall-seeded winter cover crop species such as cereal rye, triticale, and winter wheat.  Forage samples will be collected to be tested for nutrient content, which will be used to determine feeding value and to calculate estimated soil nutrient removal with forage harvest.  Small strips of forage will also be harvested for yield estimates. Soil samples were collected and tested for phosphorus, potassium, pH, and OM prior to plot establishment. Samples will also be taken upon conclusion of the study to evaluate changes in soil nutrient profile and organic matter that may have developed over the course of the study. ISU Extension Beef and Agronomy specialists will cooperate to collect and analyze data and share results through a variety of methods. The forage test plots are anticipated to be used at each of the ISU outlying farms as demonstration resources throughout the growing season including new and existing ISUEO forage related programs such as Greenhorn Grazing, Southwest Iowa Pasture Clinics, and the annual McNay Fall Field Day. Outreach materials may also include newsletter articles from the Iowa Beef Center and the agronomy team and presentations at various ISU Extension programs.  At the conclusion of the study, a research report will be generated highlighting the data collected as well as the challenges and opportunities identified in the project.  


Funders:  Iowa Nutrient Research Center, Southern Iowa Forage and Livestock Committee

Disclaimer:  This is an active research site, please contact the research team prior to planning any site visits.