Cover crops spur new ideas for dairy forages


Cover crops spur new ideas for dairy forages

A Michigan dairy farmer says after a cover crop trial this year he’ll be considering other forage options in rotations moving forward. 

James Weber tells Brownfield he is one of a few Michigan Milk Producers Assocation members to participate in a cover crop project analyzing soil health benefits.  Weber says all mixes have tested higher for digestibility than alfalfa. 

“I think these types of crops have blown the door open, especially for our farm,” he says. 

One trial included a seven-way mix of forages that was seeded into winter wheat last year, provided a fall and spring harvest before being planted to dry beans.  Weber says the trials allow for experimentation and opened a new way of thinking about crops. 

“What if we just didn’t plant any alfalfa whatsoever and did 400 acres of triticale over the winter and had one big forage harvest in the spring of triticale and a large harvest of corn silage in the fall?” he says.  “And then had less to do in the summertime.” 

The trial is part of a three-year carbon reduction effort in partnership with MMPA customers to explore economic and environmental benefits of cover crops.  Farmers like Weber are reporting metrics on soil health, adoption of cover crops and related conservation practices.