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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
Dudley Smith

Plan to Use Cover Crops this Fall


Farms that have both cattle and crops are best equipped to take advantage of the benefits of cover crops. Cover crops are a buzzing topic. From an agronomic side the list of benefits continues to grow with more research. Better soil tilth, soil health, soil biology, water retention, nitrogen retention, and subsequent crop yields are all becoming evident in managed cover cropping systems. The benefits to livestock are obvious… a feed source.

The biggest cost to a cow/calf producer is feed cost. So, logically using cover crops for extending the grazing season and additional forage will help reduce costs. So what are your options?

The best answer to that question is through the use of a cover crop decision tool put together by the Midwest Cover Crops Council. When using the tool be sure to pay careful attention to the white input boxes at the top.

In my mind, grazing corn residues and using cover crops are huge assets to IL cattlemen. Unfortunately, many have left them on the table and continue to harvest many stored feeds to get livestock through the winter. The cattle business is the place to be. If you have cattle, you cannot afford to overlook rotational grazing, utilizing crop residues, and integrating cover crops into your row crop operation.


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