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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #367138

Research Project: Sustainable Small Farm and Organic Grass and Forage Production Systems for Livestock and Agroforestry

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Title: Economic feasibility of sod-seeded summer annuals in Wisconsin pastures using cow-calf simulation

item NIEMAN, CHRISTINE - University Of Arkansas
item POPP, MICHAEL - University Of Arkansas
item SCHAEFER, DANIEL - University Of Wisconsin
item ALBRECHT, KENNETH - University Of Wisconsin
item Franco, Jose

Submitted to: Journal of American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/29/2020
Publication Date: 5/6/2020
Citation: Nieman, C.C., Popp, M.P., Schaefer, D.M., Albrecht, K.A., Franco Jr, J.G. 2020. Economic feasibility of sod-seeded summer annuals in Wisconsin pastures using cow-calf simulation. Journal of American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. 2020:177-186.

Interpretive Summary: This research examines the economic feasibility of sod-seeded winter and summer annuals into cool season perennial pasture in Wisconsin cow-calf operations. Uneven distribution of plant growth in in perennial cool season pastures creates gaps in forage production and availability for cow-calf operations in Wisconsin. Two main gaps in forage production are mid-summer or the “summer slump”, early spring, and fall. Cow-calf producers may benefit from incorporating forage species with complementary growth patterns, such as warm season grass species, or winter annuals. However, annual forage establishment and management requires additional costs compared to cool season perennial species, and therefore need to be carefully evaluated to determine system profitability. Our research indicated that in years 2015-2016, the proposed complementary systems did not result in an economic advantage to that over cool season perennial pasture. However, we describe several opportunities for improvement and encourage other researchers to continue to explore this topic.

Technical Abstract: This research models three forage systems for cow-calf operations in the Upper Midwest; a common perennial cool season system using alfalfa and cool season grasses, and two complementary forage systems involving perennial Kura clover, no-till seeded rye in the fall as a winter annual followed by either corn or sudangrass as warm season forages planted in the spring. Forage data were derived from grazing experiments and operation-specific economic performance was simulated using a cow-calf simulation tool. Results indicate that forage systems adding warm season annuals can provide a peak in summer forage mass, but lower overall yields could not compensate for increased annual establishment costs, which, resulted in partial cash returns for complementary systems that were 81% and 69% of the perennial cool season system.