Dont Farm Naked: Integration of Ruminant Livestock and Cover Crops to Meet Iowas Nutrient Reduction Goals
Practical Farmers of Iowa works with livestock producers in the Floyd, North Raccoon, and Turkey River Watersheds to demonstrate the implementation and value of incorporating cover crops into row crop production in operations with ruminant livestock. Cover crops have a significant impact on reducing both nitrogen and phosphorus losses while also providing a high-quality, low-cost livestock feed. Planting cover crops, then grazing or harvesting them is a practical way to effectively reduce nutrient pollution, plus provide economic benefits to cattle owners. This presents an opportunity for rapid expansion of this practice across this particular type of farming system. This project will specifically target these operations to deliver on-farm and practical information through multiple outreach methods to spread knowledge and ultimately adoption of the practice. Starting in 2018 the project will be expanded to assess soil health metrics along with economic benefits of cover crops. In addition to grazing systems, cover crops on swine and cattle feedlot systems will also be considered.