Farms to demonstrate benefits of rotational grazing on cover crops

Sand County Foundation
Sand County Foundation will work with four Wisconsin farmers to demonstrate the conservation and economic benefits of rotational grazing livestock on cover crops.

Sand County Foundation will work with four Wisconsin farmers to demonstrate the conservation and economic benefits of rotational grazing livestock on cover crops.  

The participating farmers include: Roger Bindl, Spring Green; Ron Bula, Baraboo; Ron Schoepp, Lodi and Darren Yanke, Loganville.

“I have already seen the benefits of introducing cattle to row crop rotations, but I am looking forward to having actual soil health data” said Ron Schoepp, owner and operator of Schoepp Farms.

“By gathering feedback from experienced graziers in an environmentally-sensitive region, these case studies will help reduce the trial and error of grazing cover crops for farmers elsewhere,” said Dr. Heidi Peterson, Sand County Foundation’s Vice President of Agricultural Research and Conservation.

“The introduction of livestock is one of the five principles of soil health,” Peterson noted. “We will demonstrate that grazing cover crops positively impacts soil health, nutrient runoff reduction, and feed cost efficiency.”

Sand County Foundation is a national non-profit that works at the intersection of agriculture and environmental improvement. Its three-year grazing project is supported by a grant from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Program.

Each of the participants involved in the study is a member of Sauk Soil & Water Improvement Group and farm within the Lower Wisconsin River Basin. SSWIG is a farmer-led watershed protection group that focuses on improving soil health and water quality, while preserving family farms, enhancing the local farming culture and educating the general public.

Dr. Randy Jackson with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Agronomy is another key partner in the project titled, “Onto Greener Pastures with Rotational Grazing and Cover Crops.”

Sand County Foundation has a history of projects in the Lower Wisconsin River Basin, as it spearheaded an initiative to remove old and unsafe dams and return the Baraboo River to a free-flowing condition in 2001. For more than 50 years, its work has evaluated and demonstrated conservation practices with farmers, ranchers, foresters and businesses.