Row-Crop to Pasture

There are substantial areas of Iowa, especially in southern counties, in permanent pasture. Pastures can be grouped into several management options including intensively grazed, rotationally grazed, and grazed with cattle fenced off from the stream.


Research suggests pasture/hay ground has limited leaching and erosion, thus reduces nitrate-N loss by at least 85% when compared to any land in corn or soybean (same as land retirement). New markets may develop for grass-fed and organic beef.

Although there is little research comparing P loss from pasture and corn-soybean rotation in Iowa, pastures typically have lower soil erosion rates than a corn-soybean rotation on comparable land and can potentially reduce P loss 59%. In addition, pastureland provides wildlife habitat, soil improvement benefits, increases carbon sequestration and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.


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