Study Explores Soil Compaction in Fields with Grazed Cover Crops

The Pasture Project, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Sustainable Farming Association, and Land Stewardship Project partnered on a four-year NRCS-USDA Conservation Innovation Grant to demonstrate the economic and soil health benefits of livestock grazing on cover crops. Practical Farmers of Iowa reports on the experience of three Iowa farmers who participated in a study that compared soil compaction in conventionally managed row crop fields where no cover crops were planted and no grazing occurred with fields where grazing of cover crops occurred. The cover crop was a six-species mix planted on no-till corn and soybean fields that had never before been planted with cover crops. Four years of data from this study show that grazing cover crops did not contribute to soil compaction in row crop fields. Farmers employed proper grazing management practices, such as avoiding excessive grazing during wet and muddy conditions.