Field Crops Webinar Series - Cover Crop Profitability

March 11, 2019

Join Dr. Kim Cassida, MSU Extension Forage and Cover Crop Specialist, as she explains how producers can gain value from their cover crops.  Topics Dr. Cassida addresses include:
•The pros and cons of using cover crops from a financial point of view.
•The value of soil improvement.
•The value of water.
•The value of nitrogen fixation.
•The value of cover crops as forage.

Video Transcript

- So we're gonna talk tonight about ways to maybe be able to make a little bit of money back from your cover crops. As I'm sure you're all aware if you grow these, it seems like you are always paying for things and not really ever seeing any direct return to your pocketbook, which can make it, obviously, hard in these days of tight farm budgets, to justify growing them. So I want to just start out by going over where your costs can fall. Your direct costs of using a cover crop fall on a seed purchase, obviously at some point you have to obtain some seed, and somehow you have to plant it. Those are really the only two costs that are a given. You have other things that you can pay money for such as if you decide to do any kind of site preparation that involves tillage and/or an herbicide. You can use a starter fertilizer if you wish to, or not. And then you may also have a cost associated with termination. Now judicious selection of your cover crop can help minimize that cost because we're fortunate here in Michigan that some of our cover crops will actually winter kill. In this picture right here is a mixture of cover crop species where the Sudex in the picture has already been killed by a killing frost, whereas we still have the clover and the grass continuing to grow, and a lot of those may actually make it through to the fall and spring. And then you do have a cost associated with getting rid of it. But if you use things that would winter kill, you do not. I'm not gonna go over that detail tonight because we do have this new fact sheet specifically on this topic that you can get online, Cover Crop Termination, that will tell you everything you need to know about that topic. Then we have some indirect costs that can be related to our cover crops. It may take you a little bit longer to get things accomplished in the spring and get out there and be able to get your crop planted. A lot of people worry about crop loss, or perhaps loss of crop quality. They worry that maybe they're gonna have more weeds or more diseases that they're gonna have to control. And one significant potential cost is you may have complications with your insurance program if you are in a crop insurance program. So we always tell people that before you begin with the cover crop, you want to make sure that you are not planning to do something that is going to make your insurance agent unhappy. But then we look at, in the blue boxes, what are the ways that you can actually get a return on your investment from the cover crop. Unfortunately don't have too many ways that you can get direct income return. There are cost share programs that you can participate in that will help reimburse the cost of the seed and the planting. That's about the only direct thing that you can get from the cover crop itself. The only other ways we have to put direct money in your pocket from the cover are if you harvest it as a forage or graze it as a forage. I'm gonna be talking about that towards the end of the presentation. First I'm gonna spend some time talking about indirect sources of income. These are a little bit harder to quantify because they don't directly show up as money in your pocketbook, but we have many environmental services that can be provided by the cover crops themselves, such as reduction of erosion, holding onto your soil nutrients, building your soil nutrients, capturing and holding water. And then we get into a group of things that, strangely enough, look exactly the same as the things that were up here under indirect costs, because we don't always know what these things are gonna be doing, and it is possible that you have less weeds and disease as a result of your cover crop, and so you have a cost savings because you don't have to control them, and it's also possible that they can improve your crop yields or your crop quality, in the particular situation that you are in. Managing all of these things can be a little bit overwhelming, and it can mean that you need to develop some new skills in how to manage your cropping system. So there is a learning curve associated with doing this effectively. Some of the things that are simple and easy to do include things like planting cereal rye into no-till forage into no-till, ha, no tilling cereal rye into silage corn stubble. This is very easy to do and it's one of our cheapest, least expensive ways to utilize a cover crop. I worked up this chart which is just showing the range of costs that could be associated with this type of a system. Now you're gonna have, this is assuming that the rye seed itself was priced at 27 cents per pound, which was a good price earlier this year, but that obviously changes. I always, whenever I do any kind of economic chart, I always have to qualify it for people by, and you guys already know this, but, your prices will differ, so there's always a range of prices that you can put on any input or farming cost. But I tried to cover the ranges here. So if your seeding rate, in pounds per acre of seed, is going to be dependent on the planting method that you use, because if you drill it you can get by with less seed because that's a very effective method of getting the soil and seed in contact with each other. If you broadcast, you need to use a higher rate, because that does not work quite as well. And if you broadcast from an airplane you are going to have to use an even higher rate of seed. So if you convert these seeding rates into this seed cost up here, these are the range of prices just for the purchase of your seed at these three different planting types. Then you may choose, it's a question mark, you may choose to use a burndown, preplant herbicide application, and this particular price is just going over the field with the equipment; it doesn't include your chemical, which might add about $10 per acre more, depending on what you're using. If you choose to use starter nitrogen, that might be at a rate of 25 to 50 pounds per acre, that would cost $11 to $23. Are you going to till? Again, there is a pass over the field with your equipment. The drilling itself has a cost, and the aero-seeding has a cost, which is higher than drilling. So down here for total establishment cost, what I have worked up is, I took everything out of this column, and the very cheapest way that you could possibly do this with just planting and the cheapest rate of seed, you're looking at an establishment cost of about $26 per acre. And if you, on the other hand did everything in the most expensive way, and you get all of these options, then you might be up to $107 per acre, which is probably not going to be economically viable in most cropping systems. So you can see where there's a lot of wiggle room here in choosing how you're gonna do this. Another question that people have is: How much cover crop is actually enough to serve the purpose? This picture is showing strips of different types of cover. So this one here is mostly radish, which is showing a pretty good amount of cover. Over here, this is a grass. There is some in there, hopefully you can see the green, but not as much ground cover as here. And the mixture that was planted over on this side really has very few plants in it. So where I'm going with this conversation is that you need to choose your cover crop that you're planting very carefully so that it meets the needs of what you are trying to accomplish by planing it. And it is really easy to drive your seed costs up in a hurry by planting exotic species. This is a lovely mixture, I think it had 10 different things in it, and it probably is doing a great job, but it's also gonna be a lot more expensive than planting just rye, and at this point in time we're not sure you're getting enough additional benefit from planting these expensive mixtures to cover the cost of planting them. So there is the Midwest Cover Crop Guide that you can access. You have to buy that. You can order it online, but it will give you a lot of information on how different cover crop species can be used for these different purposes, to make sure that you are picking the right one that will do what you need it to do. And again, that's not really the topic of this presentation tonight, so I won't be going over these into a lot of detail. However, I will show you this chart here, which you've probably seen versions of from various places, and this is just a take on the periodic chart of elements as cover crops. So we have our grasses, cool season grasses. We have our forbs, in yellow. We have our legumes, which are the blue, the cool season legumes, and the brown, which are the warm season legumes. Then we have some warm season broadleaf plants and warm season grasses, in the green. And we often recommend that you plant mixtures that have a simple mixture of these things. (clearing throat) Oops. (mumbling under her breath) There we go. Get my slides to advance. So I throw up this number, which you may be wondering what does that mean, and that is actually, if you were to take the mixture, all the things that are on this chart, if you were to put them together in mixtures of four things, there are 677,000 different mixtures of four species based on this chart. Now we do not have research data (chuckling) to look at all of those mixtures, and we probably never will, because it's just prohibitive to be able to look at all of them. We do have some tried-and-true ones that we know will work pretty well here, and it's perfectly alright for you to try different mixtures, but do it cautiously. Don't spend a lot of money on a fancy mixture. Do a small amount of acreage and see how it works on your farm before you buy a lot of it. We're trying to get some information to help producers with this by a new type of variety trial that we're running this year, which is our cover crop variety trail. And we don't have a publication out on this yet because it isn't completed yet; it was put in last summer and will be completed probably in March or April of this year when we evaluate the plots to see what winter killed. But what we're trying to do with this is get information that will help people with their cover crop selection by showing what actually happens here in Michigan. We'll be looking at biomass, we'll be looking at winter kill, we will be rating weed control, and we will also be looking at how easy it is to terminate the material. So the only data I have so far to show you is our post-frost biomass that was taken last fall. This test was planted August 15th. It was intended to simulate a cover crop being planted after a wheat crop, or a small grain comes off. We measured the biomass November 7th, which was after a killing frost, which was approximately 11 weeks after planting. This group right here on the top, we have, on the y-axis we have our biomass, in tons per acre. These are our Brassicas, the dark green are the radishes that everybody's always interested in, and the lighter green are other types of Brassicas. So you can see that there is some difference here between the very best one and the worst one. Then we have a group of annual rye grasses, which didn't really have very much difference among the varieties. The orange bars are our controlled variety, which there is one in each group. Then we have our annual clovers. Dixie crimson clover as our control was better than any of our test clovers. Down on the bottom we have the cover crops that were planted at a deeper depth because of a larger seed. So our black oat was much better than our Jerry oat control. Our large seeded legumes were Hairy Vetch and field peas. And our mixtures, which, when we write the final report, we will actually be telling you exactly what is in these mixtures, but the number here and the axis is indicating how many different species there were. So this KBD3 (8X) had eight species in the mixture. But there really wasn't a strong trend here for how many species were in the mixture versus yield, so, the eight species mixture was not really much better than the six species mixture over here. Again, the species that are in the mixture are probably more important than the number of species that are in there. But stay tuned for more information about this as we get that test finished. So next I'm going to talk about the value of soil improvement. This is a little bit harder to put a number on. It's one of the reasons we grow cover crops. We're very interested in getting soil organic matter improvement, getting that carbon into the soil, and a lot of people are disappointed because it doesn't happen quickly. Most of the research is pretty consistent in showing that a realistic rate of soil organic matter improvement, if you are using a complete spectrum of soil improvement practices, all right, and not just cover crops, but you might be able to improve your soil organic matter by 0.1% per year. Now you will read articles in the popular press and the trade magazines, it'll be about a particular farmer that maybe they got up to 1% per year. That is the exception. It has happened in a few places but you can't expect that to happen on every farm. Where you see those really big increases really quickly tends to be places where the soils were exceptionally poor to begin with. So if you look at this more realistic rate of 0.1% per year, and then think about how much nutrient there is in 1% worth of soil organic matter. So one acre of average topsoil, at 1% of soil organic matter contains 20,000 pounds of organic matter. If that's got a 10 to one carbon to nitrogen ratio, and 0.5% phosphorus, then what you have here is the equivalent of just under 1200 pounds of nitrogen per acre, which at current prices is worth about $534, and 100 pounds of phosphorus, which is worth about $123. If you break that down into only 0.1% per year, the increase in value you're getting by improving that soil is $53 per year for nitrogen, and $12 per year for phosphorous. Now, again, you're not seeing that come directly into your pocketbook. Where you see that is, that's a reduction in the amount of fertilizer that you have to buy and apply to that land. Legume cover crops, in particular, are very good at scavenging nitrogen that's present in the system because they have a high nitrogen requirement, and if there is not a lot of nitrogen in the system they will our fix it from nitrogen in the atmosphere, which is one of their strong advantages. If you look at the amount of nutrients that are retained in different species of cover crops, the red clover, being high in protein, has the potential of two tons per acre of biomass could be holding about 144 pounds of nitrogen, 34 pounds of phosphate, 126 pounds of potash. If you are plowing down a very immature cover crop you will get very similar rates of nutrient retention from many of these species. The warm season Sudex is going to be the lowest one in terms of hanging on to nitrogen and other nutrients. Now we're gonna talk a little bit about the value of water. We have a lot of it Michigan, surrounding us on all sides. Hopefully some of you have had the opportunity to see our rainfall simulator in action. I'll try and explain it here. What we do here is we will cut out sections of soil from different types of cropping systems and place them in these pans. The pans have a lip that will guide run-off, that comes off the pan, will come down into this bottle in the front. And there are also holes in the bottom of the pan, so water that infiltrates down through the soil will end up in this bottle in the back so that you can see the difference between run-off and infiltration. This particular set, and then we will run water on it through a sprinkler system to simulate rainfall. That comes out of the spigot up here at the top. So this particular set of samples is a cover crop, looks like a, mostly a small grain. This is just a wheat crop residue. This is just a bare pan to show the total amount of water that went into the system. A perennial forage crop, and this is bare soil. So if you look at this empty pan, here's the amount of water that we put through the system here. The first thing I wanna talk about is infiltration. So if this is the amount of water that went on to the surface of each of these pans, you can see that, for these over here, the total amount of water in the front and back jars is a whole lot less than what you have got, that was applied. And so where did it go? And where it went is it's being held by those soils. So the key thing here is that when you have a healthier soil with soil organic matter in it, the organic matter can hold up to 10 times its weight in water, and it also helps improve the structure of the soil, which helps the soil hold water. So that 1% of soil organic matter can be worth, depending on who's doing the calculations, an extra 20,000 to 27,000 gallons of water being held per acre. And that is enough water to grow maybe five to six extra bushels of corn. The value of that, at a price of $4.38 per bushel, which was the price I looked up in January, was, you know, $2.19 to $2.63 per year. But the biggest thing here is that that's actually providing you a buffer against drought in this system, and that's actually a much bigger advantage that the yield itself. The second thing I wanna talk about here based on the rainfall simulator is run-off. So you can see that anywhere we had something on the surface of the soil we have a whole lot less run-off than when we don't. So here's our pretty much 100% run-off off the bare pan, and here's our bare soil. Very little in filtration, a whole lotta run-off, and look at how much soil there is in that run-off. We like to think that here in Michigan we don't have that much soil erosion, and it is true that we are probably better than some other parts of the country. But when you look at this chart here, based on national totals, ranging from 1982, the brown bar, to 2007, which was the last time they assessed these numbers, and then look up here in the Great Lakes area near us, we have improved from 6.1 tons per acre being lost per year to 4.6 tons per acre being lost, but 4.6 tons per acre is still too much because that's a loss to your system. Now, cover crops have been shown that they will potentially reduce the erosion up to 94% when they are present. And if you have a cover crop on your ground over the winter for 6 months, and it is saving 94% reduction in erosion, that is, at this 4.6 tons per acre per year rate, that's 2.2 tons of soil per acre that you saved off your farm that did not go down the river or in the wind to someone else's farm. Why is that important? You've all seen pictures of Lake Erie, and you're probably thinkin', oh yeah, there's another picture of one of those algae blooms. However, this picture was taken in the spring. This is not an algae bloom. This is a sediment in Lake Erie as a result of a heavy spring snow-melt event, and that is not good because the estimated cost of soil erosion like this to society has been put at about $4.9 billion in 2017 by USDA, and at the farm level we do pay for that, because you're paying for that in lost yield from that soil that left your farm that you can no longer use to grow crops in. You're gonna pay for it in increased taxes because somebody has to deal with the cost downstream. You pay for it in increased prices for goods and utilities, which includes things like your farm inputs, because if the waterways sediment in then somebody has to pay to dredge them out. And lastly we'll pay for them in more regulations, as society attempts to reduce the problem. Again, those are things that don't directly show up on your farm budget, but they do affect you. Changing gears a little bit, I wanna talk about land prices. We all know those are going up. We also know that the price of rented farmland goes up in conjunction with land prices. How does that relate to cover crops? We all know that when you're trying to write your budget and pencil things out, it's really difficult to justify spending money for long term benefits on land that you may not have over the long term. So what we'll typically recommend for people using cover crops is that when you are renting the land you wanna focus on shorter term benefits that you can get back. If it's your own land that you own, then you can justify spending more time looking at long term improvement of the soil and the water through these ecosystem services. But, so how do you get, we know a lot of you are renting land, so how do you get some return off that rented land? So there's a couple of things I'm gonna talk about here, and one of them is nitrogen fixation. Now you do need to, to get the benefit of this, it's not instantaneous. You typically have to have the land for at least two years to get this benefit, so you're basically taking advantage of nitrogen credits. And the system that we've been working on here is looking at growing a legume cover crop, and then harvesting that for forage, and then using the nitrogen fixation at the same time to support whatever crop you're gonna grow next year. So we wanted to look at just how much nitrogen benefit did we get from growing things like annual clovers. So this was planted in July. Here's our red clover control. We got 0.8 tons per acre of forage when we harvested that in October. And our Berseem clover, we got almost 50% more yield, 1.2 tons per acre, because it's an annual and it grows a little faster. This is a really good quality forage for most classes of animal. So there is a place that you can get some direct income back from that in the year that you harvest it. But also, it has value to you the following year when you grow your cash crop. Now we used just a grass-hay cash crop in this system because it was easy to harvest with our system. It was annual rye grass, so what we did was we harvested our clover plots the first year, and then in the second year, that was all gone. We just planted annual rye grass over the entire area and measured the yield of the annual rye grass as hay. We also had some plots that never had clover. We only planted, excuse me, applied rates of nitrogen two so that we could get a calibration curve to figure out how much nitrogen value we were getting from our clovers. We did this at three sites over two years. So the clovers, pink is our red clover control. We had our red crimson clover. The two blues are two different varieties of Berseem clover. The brown is Arrowleaf clover, and the green is Balansa clover. We got much more nitrogen fixation in Lake City than we got in East Lansing or Chatham. I always get asked why this is when I show this chart. I suspect it had to do with we actually had a better soil at Lake City because it had been broken out of a sod two years before we put this trial in, whereas East Lansing and Chatham were both very typical row crop ground that were in a standard crop rotation, so they probably had less residual nitrogen present. But yet we still did, at East Lansing and Lake City, we got considerable amounts of nitrogen fixation, from 40 pounds per acre, our lowest rate in East Lansing, up to 160 pounds per acre of nitrogen value in Lake City, and at a nitrogen price of $0.46 per pound, that nitrogen from our green manure clover was worth almost $74 per acre. If you figure that 0.8 pounds of nitrogen is required to grow a bushel of modern corn, that 160 pound nitrogen credit in our best plot is enough to grow 200 bushels of corn, without having to buy any more fertilizer. And that is a pretty significant value. We also have value of the cover crops directly as forage. This will add short term income to your budget sheet. It helps save money on livestock feed if you happen to own livestock, or you can sell it for a good price to someone else who has livestock. And I'll tell you right now, any of you who are not growing hay, we like to tell people that hay seems to be one of our bright spots on the ag market because we have a bit of a shortage of it and the prices are very good. You can also sell a lease to somebody who has animals so that they can graze animals directly on your cover. So how would some of these things work? First I'm gonna talk about directly harvesting covers for haylage. This oat-pea mix is very popular in Michigan and we can typically get about one to three tons per acre of forage dry matter. Typically it's put up as silage or balage but it can be done as hay. The forage quality is pretty good for most classes of animals, 12% to 18% protein and 43% to 56% fiber, which is pretty good stuff. Another system that has been used in Michigan is to put a small grain forage crop in after corn silage. So this is a system, or a demonstration that was done at the Kellogg Biological Station, where they went in, they took their silage crop off early in September, and they planted these small grains on the 12th of September and let them go through the winter and then harvested those for forage at the root stage in the spring and were able to harvest from 1.3 to 1.9 tons per acre of forage, with a, you know, low to average forage quality, but it's adequate for dry cows, or beef cows, or other animals with low nutritional needs. And then they get that off, in May they can go directly in after it, no-till their soybeans right into the small grain stubble, basically getting another crop in their rotation. Now if you assume here that if you're using this as a cover crop system, then you were gonna buy the cover crop anyway so the only additional cost you have is the harvest cost of putting up the forage, and in this case they estimated that the harvest cost was about $100 per ton of forage, and with the yields that they got, their estimated income over the harvest cost was $67 to $96 per acre, which should be more than enough to pay, in this case, for the cover crop seed, and also for any starter nitrogen that they wanted to use. 'Cause I'll also point out that, if you are thinking that you want to harvest a cover crop as a forage, it is often beneficial to put the money into the starter nitrogen because it will considerably boost the yield you're able to get. Another system that works well is frostseeding red clover into wheat, which I know my neighbor was doing this a couple of weeks ago, so this has been happening around the state recently. We did a study a few years ago looking at frostseeded wheat as our control. Again, this is a wheat-corn rotation, so when we frostseeded the red clover into the wheat in February and then when the wheat came off we planted cover crops into the stubble, and we split our plots in half. Half the plots were harvested for forage and half of them were not, because we wanted to find out if harvesting the forage off of this actually disturbed the cover crop value when we looked at the corn the following year. This is just the cover crop yields. We got the best yield off the red clover but we got reasonable yield off the oat-pea mix and the Sudex; the rest of them are kind of disappointing because if you're gonna bother to put equipment over the field, I would like to see a yield back over, closer to one, actually, to cover the cost of actually doing the harvesting. But the line for half a ton is, like, the bare minimum that you would wanna have for that system. But how did the corn do the next year? Now, I'm not gonna show you any data here because the truth of the matter is, there was no difference in the corn, whether or not a cover crop was harvested or not in the previous year. The corn did exactly the same. And that's both for corn grain and corn stover yield. So the take home message from this is that we did not hurt the cover crop value by harvesting it. Another system that we're looking at is using corn as a nurse crop in alfalfa. You typically, the reason we would do this is that people often put a nurse crop in with alfalfa because the alfalfa yields in the seeding year typically are only about half, at best, of what you can get in a production year. You're just trying to recover a little bit more forage. So we wondered if the corn could serve this purpose. But the second part of this is that the alfalfa is actually acting like a cover crop for the corn while the corn is growing. We have a lot of different factors that influence the success of this system. Our particular approach here; this is four states working on this. We're actually working with the University of Wisconsin on this project. So we have 32 total sites across four states in two years by the time we will be done. We'll be looking at things like farm to farm variation in the different management systems, because a lot of these sites are actually on working farms. We'll be looking at the planting method and timing, the amount of residue, the corn population, the alfalfa variety, which turns out to be very important because some of the also alfalfa varieties do not survive under shade nearly as well as others. We also find that under the corn canopy we're getting a lot more damage from potato leafhopper and leaf diseases, so that we're needing to do some control of that. And we're also looking at weed control system. You might think, well, it would be really easy to just plant Roundup-ready corn and alfalfa together, but it turns out that the Roundup-ready alfalfa varieties tend not to be shade tolerant, for some reason. Probably a complete coincidence, but that gives us some complications in this system. So based on just the first year of data here in Michigan only, what we found is that as the core yield was higher, the alfalfa stand density tended to be lower. So this was not a surprise, but what we need to do is find somewhere in the middle; where is that break point where we have adequate alfalfa survival and an economical corn yield? Another approach to getting some money back is to graze the cover crops. The advantage of this is it actually leaves most of the soil nutrients in the field, because when animals graze they actually retain very little of the nutrients they eat in their body. Most of it goes out the other end and back onto the soil, and in a form that is then more available to the next crop than it is as pure crop residue. It also will leave more residue on the ground than machine harvest for soil protection. The trampling of the hooves will improve the soil-to-residue contact which will give you faster breakdown of the residue. And this can be an advantage of this system. So that last picture was sheep grazing a sudangrass and soybean mixture. This is a cow in sudangrass, turnip, and rape mixture, as being used in a corn rotation. We've had really good luck with Brassica crops for fall grazing. Our forage yield potential is typically four to five tons per acre, based on research done at KBS and Dr. Richard Ehrhardt's farm. Dr. Ehrhardt put together some numbers looking at the cost of gain for lambs. So the cheapest way to finish lambs is to put them on perennial pasture where your cost of gain will be calculated at about 20 to 23 cents per pound, and the most expensive way to do it is put 'em in a feedlot at 70 cents per pound. But he found that when he grazed them on this Brassica-sudangrass mixture he had an intermediate cost of gain at 37 to 41 cents per pound, which was pretty economical, and especially considering the fact that Brassica pastures in particular will maintain their quality well into the fall and early winter, when our other types of forage are stopped, don't grow anymore. So it gives you a way to keep your animals out on pasture a little bit longer. We did some work up at the Lake City research station with finishing of grass-fed beef on Brassica pastures. And just looking at the average daily gain potential of those Brassica pastures, which are the blue. The sample was a simple mix of oats and one Brassica, and the blue was two Brassicas with oats, compared to a perennial pasture in the fall. And we were able to get equivalent rates of gain some of the time. But we were also, in these systems, found that the cost of gain was improved for the Brassicas in many of the cases. Now if you are going to consider working with a neighbor to either harvest forage or to have animals graze your cover crops, a few recommendations on written agreements. These are really important to make sure that everyone understands what everyone else's responsibilities are, particularly if the crop owner is not also a livestock producer. Well, the two systems are different, right? We can all agree on that. Some of the things that need to be decided are: Who is going to choose what cover crop is planted, and who is gonna buy the seed? Who's gonna plant the seed? When are they gonna plant the seed? How is the site gonna be prepared, and who is gonna do that? Is there gonna be starter fertilizer, and who's going to pay for it? What will be the consequences if it fails to establish? And how is crop insurance going to be affected? It's important to keep in mind, if you're, again, in a crop insurance situation that grazing is not an approved method of cover crop termination. So you wanna make sure that your insurance agent is on board with what you're trying to do. Another thing that's very important to keep track of is what have your pesticides been, used in your crop rotation, because many of the pesticides that are used in crop rotations are actually not approved to be used as a forage, and that obviously would put a crimp into this system. For the livestock, you'd need to agree to when the start and end dates are gonna be, who's gonna be responsible for fences and water and supplements, if they're needed, like if you have a freak blizzard or something, who's gonna be out there bringin' hay to the animals for a couple of days if they need it. Who is gonna be doing the daily care of the animals? Who's gonna be responsible for emergencies? Like if somebody drives through a fence on the side of the road, the animals get out. And who's gonna, you need to think about the liability. If those animals get out, get on the road, cause someone else to hit 'em, that obviously is not a good thing. And if you're in a harvested forage situation, you have many of the same considerations for the cover crop, but you also need to think about when is it going to be harvested in order to facilitate the row crop being planted in a timely manner, and who is going to harvest it? And, as I always end my presentations, I always point out that we have this website which has a lot of forage information available on it. It also has a link to the Midwest Cover Crops Council which has a lot of cover crop information.

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