Today we answer a popular question about soil health:. How does the farmer integrate cover crops and livestock? Dr. Kevin Sedivec joins us today to shed some light on this topic and show what can be done. Kevin is the Extension Rangeland Management Specialist with North Dakota State University and the Director of the Central Grasslands Research and Extension Center near Streeter, North Dakota. By trade Kevin is a range ecologist who focuses on “livestock production, wildlife management and reclamation.” He remarks that the “fundamental basis of all of our grasslands is still soils” which has led him to be more involved in the soil health movement.
“The cover crop mixes we see today are very similar to the wildlife food plot mixes that are available to the public to buy.” - Dr. Kevin Sedivec
While ranchers are of course most concerned about the nutrition for their cattle, farmers may be concerned about any downsides the cattle might cause on their fields. One major concern faced by farmers is in regard to compaction. Kevin tells us that fortunately in the north, the expansion of water particles with freezing will reduce any significant compaction and maintain a healthy soil consistency as long as cattle are removed before the freeze/thaw cycle occurs over winter. Another common concern for farmers is contamination of local water sources by runoff originating from the cattle. Fortunately there are established systems that can be used to keep this to a minimum and create some distance between the cattle and fresh water sources.
“There’s a positive value for livestock in this industry, in our environment and of course in our food systems. And I think in terms of soil health, it's a great alternative.” - Dr. Kevin Sedivec
Research projects are being proposed to better identify and quantify the benefits of this collaboration as well as the best cover crop combination for the livestock and soil.
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