Published Jan 19, 2016

What a Small Grain Crop Can Afford You: Diverse Covers for Grazing

By Practical Farmers of Iowa


Mark Peterson has been raising cereal rye for seed the past few years in southwestern Iowa. Harvesting his main seed crop in July gives Mark the opportunity to plant a diverse cover crop mix for the remainder of the growing season. Later in the year, his neighbor’s cattle are allowed to graze the mix. Mark will discuss how he and his neighbor decide on fencing, water and rent as part of the arrangement. Colten Catterton of Green Cover Seed works with Mark and other farmers on selecting cover crop species based on specific goals. He’ll address how he and Mark selected the Petersons’ cover crop mix, and what things to consider when choosing a mix for grazing purposes.

Mark and Melanie Peterson farm about 500 acres near Stanton, Iowa, where they’ve been experimenting for several years with different methods to get cover crops to work with their farm. They raise corn, soybeans and small grains using cover crops and no-till practices.

Colten Catterton is a sales agronomist with Green Cover Seed, where he helps design cover crop mixtures tailored to meet specific management goals. Colten was raised on a farm in southern Maryland where his family grew wheat, milo, corn, soybeans and hay. He has a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a master’s degree focusing on cover crop research.