Cover crop grazing isn’t one-size-fits-all, particularly in a dryland no-tilling situation, and it’s not something to be entered into without serious study.
But with some thorough planning and on-farm testing to find multi-species mixes suited to local climates and soils, mixed cover crops can do double duty, says Jim Johnson.
The soils and crops consultant for the Samuel R. Noble Foundation says it’s been widely shown that cover crop grazing offers benefits including improved soil biology and increased soil life, higher soil organic matter, better soil structure and fertility, increased water infiltration and moisture-holding capacity of the soil, and increased production through seasonally available forage.
Well-managed cover mixes can decrease weed problems and provide a higher quantity of forage for livestock. Frequently, forage quality improves over long periods of time.
Grazing cover crops is a way to turn them from an expense into a profit center, Johnson says. In addition, properly executed grazing on top of cover cropping will speed up the rate of soil health improvement.
For example, Leedey, Okla., no-tiller Jimmy Emmons and…