Cover Crops Enhance Both Crop and Livestock Operations

07-31-2018 in Green Farmstead Partner

By Megyn Walston, CSIF Communications Intern

On July 17, AJ and Kellie Blair of Dayton, Iowa hosted a field day to discuss their experience with cover crops. Topics ranged from how the crops can benefit crop rotations, nitrogen levels, and livestock operations. The Practical Farmers of Iowa hosted the event and presented research results from across the state and explained options to other farmers who are interested in incorporating cover crops on their operations.

The Blair’s raise corn, soybeans, cattle, pigs and cover crops. The cover crop operation initially started 10 years ago as a trial to learn more about their effect on a small scale, but the Blair’s have continued to expand their cover crop acres each year. While they first used cover crops for grazing cattle, they have now expanded to using the rye and sorghum for feed and bedding. They also harvest some rye for seed, so they can plant their own as needed.

Some benefits they’ve noticed are improved soil structure, more field days and less weed pressure. They also take water samples and have noticed a decline in the nitrate levels near the fields they have implemented cover crops continually. Having their rye field also gives them a place to apply manure over the summer when it can’t be incorporated into other fields, which means they don’t need to store the manure at any point throughout the year.

While they have seen a very slight decrease in yield of corn and soybeans following a cover crop, the Blair’s say they will continue the operation because there is still a positive economic and environmental impact. By using cover crops they can utilize their acres for a longer period and implement them into their livestock operation in diverse ways, while also seeing less nutrient leaching.

If you are interested in learning more about cover crops, check out these helpful resources:

Practical Farmers of Iowa: https://www.practicalfarmers.org/member-priorities/cover-crops/

Iowa State University Cover Crop Guide: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/Iowa-Cover-Crop-Resource-Guide

Recommended News

Iowa City landscaper joins Green Farmstead Partner Program

West Des Moines, Iowa – March 16, 2021 — Sustainable Landscape Solutions (SLS) of Iowa City has been designated a participating landscape professional in the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers’ (CSIF)...

Read More
EcoScapes IA Logo_Dark
Solon landscaper joins Green Farmstead Partner program

Ben Harrison of Solon has been designated a participating landscape professional in the Green Farmstead Partner Program. Harrison, an Iowa native, owns and operates EcoScapes IA, a company focused on...

Read More
Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers offers windbreak assistance to livestock farmers impacted by the derecho

CONTACT: Brian Waddingham, Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers 800.932.2436, bwaddingham@supportfarmers.com WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – August 28, 2020 – The derecho that tore across the U.S. Midwest on Monday, August 10,...

Read More