Look into these factors when considering using cover crops as a supplemental forage.
Cover crops are an important facet of a farmer’s field management, but they can also be utilized as a supplemental forage in many instances, according to a BEEF Magazine article. The piece taps the expertise of Victor Shelton, an Indiana state agronomist and grazing specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The article discusses factors that beef operators need to consider before utilizing cover crops as supplemental forage and the benefits of doing so; see a summary below.
Considerations for Cover Crops as Supplemental Forage
Shelton maintains that producers need to first consider the function of their cover crops. A producer wouldn’t want to turn the cover crops into supplemental forage if one of the original functions of the crops would be compromised by allowing cattle to graze it. The primary purposes of the cover crops that shouldn’t be ignored include:
- erosion control
- compaction relief
- nutrient management
- soil health
Next, Shelton advises that farmers speak with their Farm Service Agency and crop insurance agent to ensure that grazing a cover crop as supplemental forage is allowable under insurance or other areas. Producers don’t want to find out that grazing a cover crop voids their insurance after the fact, because the dual benefits of grazing a cover crop isn’t enough incentive.
Benefits of Grazing a Cover Crop
The benefits of utilizing a cover crop as a forage are numerous. Less supplemental feed will need to be purchased, helping the operation’s bottom line. Using cover crops as forage also lets the operation’s usual pastures get some well-needed rest. This lets the soil recover and allows the producer to complete management duties that are not possible when feeding cattle are present, such as weed removal or reseeding, both of which will help the pasture to be healthier in the future. Grazing can also be beneficial to the field, as nutrients are returned to the soil both though the cover crops and the feeding cattle.
Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.