VINTON, Iowa -- Many Iowa producers are including winter annual forages as a cover crop to protect water quality and improve soil health. These forages also can provide early spring grazing to help reduce feed costs and improve the health of spring calving cow herds.
Denise Schwab, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said three field days will be held this month in northeast Iowa as a part of the Forage Alternative Research Project, demonstrating the use of winter annuals for spring grazing.
"All begin at 7:30 a.m. and will conclude by 9 a.m. so you can get back to your planting tasks," she said. "Field day hosts will share their experiences with growing and grazing annual forages, and extension staff will share yield data from several research trials, as well as management tips for grazing winter annuals.
The events are open to everyone, and coffee and donuts will be available. To ensure adequate handouts and refreshments, RSVP with the location you plan to attend by calling the ISU Extension and Outreach Benton County office at 319-472-4739 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, location and number of participants.
The field day dates, locations and descriptions are as follows:
- Tuesday, April 19. Lillie Beringer farm, 28031 Goose Hill Road, Cascade. As a beginning farmer with both spring and fall calving herds, Beringer uses cover crops as a tool to reduce feed costs and provide a healthy location for spring calves. This year she has 40 acres of cereal rye seeded after corn silage harvest. She plans to graze until about May 1, then terminate the rye and plant the next grain crop.
- Tuesday, April 26. Matthew and Dan Harting, 10515 Bishop Road, LaPorte City. Matthew and Dan have cover crops on much of their corn residue acres. Some will be grazed, some will be chopped for feed and some will be terminated. Following the cover crop, they will strip till corn and most of the fields with beans on the remainder.
- Wednesday, April 27. Dan Welter farm, 6608 170th St., Onslow (just southeast of the Welter Seed & Honey plant). For decades they have planted cereal grains behind chopped corn silage to be grazed in the both the fall and spring. Over the years, they've experimented with annual forage species as well as establishment practices. In case of inclement weather, meet at the seed plant.