The objective of this project is to develop, evaluate, and disseminate best management practices for the integration of cereal rye cover crop into crop and livestock systems. This will increase forage resource usage, improve environmental quality, and provide a sustainable economic incentive to add increased value to cover crops through cattle.
Preliminary data collected in the spring 2016 suggests that a cereal rye cover crop can be a successful addition to both the crop and livestock systems, but some challenges associated with integrating the two systems still need to be addressed. While excess corn residue is believed to have hindered cereal rye fall emergence on one field, wet conditions during the spring of 2016 limited grazing days and may have affected the moisture content of available forage and potentially consumption by the cattle. The cattle low average daily gains suggest that the extremely high moisture content of the forage may have limited intake and therefore cattle performance. To fully evaluate the impact on cattle growth, grazing over additional growing seasons is needed.
Dan Loy is the director of the Iowa Beef Center and professor of animal science at Iowa State University, both located in Ames. He is also an ISU Extension and Outreach Beef Specialist. He has been with ISU since 1982, coming from Penn State University, where he earned a Ph.D. in animal industries. He holds an bachelor of science in agriculture from Western Illinois University.
Erika Lundy and Rebecca Vittetoe, ISU Extension and Outreach