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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Livestock Nutrient Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #390105

Research Project: Strategies to Manage Feed Nutrients, Reduce Gas Emissions, and Promote Soil Health for Beef and Dairy Cattle Production Systems of the Southern Great Plains

Location: Livestock Nutrient Management Research

Title: Effects of tillage method and seeding rate of wheat pasture on forage production and calf performance

item BECK, PAUL - Oklahoma State University
item Beck, Matthew - Matt
item ADAMS, JORDAN - Oklahoma State University
item HUBBELL III, D - University Of Arkansas
item HESS, T - University Of Arkansas
item FOOTE, ANDREW - Oklahoma State University
item KEGLEY, ELIZABETH - University Of Arkansas

Submitted to: Applied Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/17/2022
Publication Date: 5/31/2022
Citation: Beck, P.A., Beck, M.R., Adams, J.M., Hubbell III, D., Hess, T., Foote, A.P., Kegley, E.B. 2022. Effects of tillage method and seeding rate of wheat pasture on forage production and calf performance. Applied Animal Science. 38(3):211-221.

Interpretive Summary: Grazing winter wheat is an economically important endeavor for the Southern Great Plains and Southeastern U.S. regions and globally. One management decision that faces producers is which tillage system to use to plant wheat: no-till or conventional tillage. Further optimal seeding rate is affected by the tillage system. Most prior research into seeding rates and pre-plant tillage systems have been conducted in small plot studies utilizing mechanical harvest. Such data may not reflect trends when wheat is grazed by cattle. Therefore, there is a need to explore the effects of establishment method and seeding rate using grazing livestock. Accordingly, scientists from ARS (Bushland, Texas), Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK), and the University of Arkansas (Batesville and Fayetteville, AR) conducted an experiment comparing no-till and conventional till establishment of wheat pasture at three seeding rates (60, 90, or 120 pounds of seed per acre). Despite the reduced forage production seen in the no-till system, there were no differences in steer body weight gain between the two systems. During the spring graze-out period, the steers grazing no-till established wheat had greater body weight gain. These results indicate that no-till establishment methods can be used with similar animal performance during the fall and winter grazing period and greater performance during the spring graze-out period. These results are of interest to farmers using wheat pasture for grazing cattle.

Technical Abstract: Objectives Our objectives were to determine the effects of wheat (Triticum aestivumL.) establishment method [conventional tillage (CT) vs. no-till (NT)] and seeding rate on forage and animal production. Materials and Methods Pastures were planted in early September of each year with seeding rates (SR) of 67, 100, or 134 kg of wheat/ha. Steers (n = 144; BW = 235 ± 23.2 kg) were placed on wheat pasture for the fall and winter grazing season and were replaced by a new set of steers (n = 288, BW = 263 ± 19.1 kg) for spring grazeout. Forage was sampled monthly for forage production and nutritive quality determination. Results and Discussion Increasing SR resulted in increased (P = 0.02) forage mass and forage allowance but tended (P = 0.08) to decrease CP and ME of wheat forage in the fall and winter. No-till tended (P = 0.09) to produce less forage mass during the fall and winter but tended (P = 0.08) to increase forage mass in April. Increasing SR tended (P = 0.09) to increase steer ADG during the fall and winter. Steer gains during the fall and winter were not affected (P = 0.95) by tillage system and were improved (P = 0.01) by NT in the spring. Implications and Applications Increasing SR increased fall forage production in both CT and NT and tended to increase steer gains in the fall, without increasing total gain per hectare during the fall. No-till establishment methods have production advantages that will likely improve farm net returns.