Reintegrating Ruminant Grazing in Row Crop Country

"Integrated crop and grazing ruminant systems” (ICGR) that utilize “continuous living cover” (CLC) in the form of cover crops, longer rotations, or perennials in row crop country can increase the resilience of farms to climate change impacts and market volatility. This preliminary feasibility study gathered perceived barriers, opportunities, co-benefits, lessons learned, and recommendations from farmers involved in or considering ICGR. I interviewed 21 farmers on 14 farms in 2020, and separately created 10 videos on 9 of those farms. 

Our analysis shows that there may be sufficient cattle in smaller feedlots in or near these heavily row-cropped watersheds to graze cover crops in annual row crops on marginal parcels and beyond. There is potential for shifting 7.5 million acres in Minnesota to ICGR and CLC. Public benefits in the form of reduced agricultural pollutants to air and water could potentially offset investments over three Minnesota biennia.

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Spreadsheets of Calculations

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“This publication was developed by George Boody in his role as Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems at the University of Minnesota and is published by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.”

Funding for this project was provided by The School of Agriculture Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems.

Copyright: Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture and SoilCarbon LLC, 2023.

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