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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Can Perennial Grass Pastures Be Profitable in the Great Plains?

Authors
item Mitchell, Robert
item Vogel, Kenneth
item Varvel, Gary
item Klopfenstein, Terry - UNI OF NE
item Clark, Dick - UNI OF NE
item Anderson, Bruce - UNI OF NE

Submitted to: Center for Grassland Studies Newsletter
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: January 15, 2005
Publication Date: February 1, 2005
Citation: Mitchell, R., Vogel, K.P., Varvel, G.E., Klopfenstein, T., Clark, D., Anderson, B. 2005. Can perennial grass pastures be profitable in the great plains?. Center for Grassland Studies Newsletter. Winter 2005 p.3&6, Uni of NE, Lincoln, NE.

Interpretive Summary: Many producers wonder if perennial grass pastures can be profitable in the Great Plains. We evaluated the economic potential of livestock grazing on 'Bonanza' big bluestem pastures grown on dryland cropland in eastern Nebraska. Pastures were burned and fertilized in the spring prior to grazing. Each pasture was stocked with three yearling steers in mid-June 2000, 2001, and 2002. Pasture development cost was amortized for 15 years at 5%, and added to annual inputs of fertilizer, herbicides, and burning to average $62 per acre. Big bluestem produced an average of 405 lb of beef per acre. On average, big bluestem pastures returned $119 per acre, and appear to have excellent economic potential on non-irrigated marginal cropland in eastern Nebraska.

Technical Abstract: Producers have limited information for determining the economic potential of growing perennial grass pastures on non-irrigated cropland in the Great Plains. The objective of this study was to determine if grazing perennial grass pastures is profitable by monitoring pasture establishment costs, steer performance, and net return per acre for perennial grass pastures in eastern Nebraska. 'Bonanza' big bluestem pastures were grown on non-irrigated cropland in eastern Nebraska and were burned and fertilized in the spring prior to grazing. Each pasture was stocked with three yearling steers in mid-June 2000, 2001, and 2002. Pasture development cost was amortized for 15 years at 5%, and added to annual inputs of fertilizer, herbicides, and burning to average $62 per acre. Big bluestem produced an average of 405 lb of beef per acre. Big bluestem pastures returned as much as $164 per acre, and averaged $119 per acre, and appear to have excellent economic potential on non-irrigated marginal cropland in eastern Nebraska.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014