Alternatives to Cereal Rye and the Benefits of Grazing Covers

December 9, 2015

The majority of cover crop research done in the Corn Belt is with cereal rye, which has proven to be both winter hardy and good livestock forage in the fall and spring. Farmers insistent on increasing diversity on their farms are now considering other cover crop species. Andy Lenssen and Nathan Anderson will share experiences growing cover crops beyond rye during this farminar. Agronomist Andy Lenssen and his research group at Iowa State University are documenting the effectiveness of 16 fall-seeded cover crops following soybean harvest. Farmer Nathan Anderson has been aerially seeding mixes of small grains and mustard species in late summer to graze with cattle in late fall.

Andy Lenssen is a researcher and professor with Iowa State University with over 18 years experience leading collaborative, interdisciplinary team projects investigating diversified, intensified cropping systems. One of his current research goals is to provide better options for fall-seeded cover crops, including species diversification, for Corn Belt farmers.

Nathan Anderson has been farming with his family since 2005, raising beef cattle and field crops near Cherokee, Iowa. The cow-calf herd is primarily grass-based, the crops are no-tilled, and they use cover crops both for the soil benefits and as forage for the livestock.