Farmers and ranchers learned about the benefits of cover crops at the “Farming and Ranching for the Bottom Line” event in Bismarck. David Archer, Northern Great Plains Laboratory research leader, says it’s important for producers to evaluate their own farm or ranch. “You need to think through what you want to accomplish. Cover crops by themselves are not a magic bullet,” explains Archer. “If you need more coverage to prevent erosion, or if you need that livestock feed, that really determines how you set up a cover crops system.” While implementing cover crops is an investment, Archer says the rate of return can be positive. “First, try it out on a small part of the operation and see how it goes. It does take new management skills to have a successful system.” According to Archer, cover crops can help improve nutrient cycling, allowing farmers to cut back on input costs, as well as grazing of the forage by livestock.
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