Effect of a forage-type soybean cover crop on wheat forage production and animal performance in a continuous wheat pasture system

P. A. Beck, D. S. Hubbell, T. W. Hess, K. D. Wilson, J. A. Williamson

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This research was conducted over 4 consecutive years (2010 to 2014) to investigate the effects of tillage system [no-till (NT) vs. conventional tillage (CONV)] and NT with a summer legume cover crop (NTCC) on forage production and performance of growing steers in a continuous wheat pasture cropping system on 18, 1.6-ha dedicated wheat fields (n = 6 fields per establishment method). Soybean forage production averaged 2,034 ± 346.2 kg of DM/ha in July. Cover crops were grazed for an average of 33 ± 2.4 d, with ADG averaging 0.62 ± 0.28 kg/d and total gain per hectare averaging 108 ± 24.4 kg/ha. Although, forage mass was less (P < 0.01) for NTCC than NT or CONV in November, it did not differ (P ≥ 0.15) due to treatment the remainder of the production year. In the autumn, ADG of NT and NTCC tended (P ≤ 0.08) to be greater than CONV, whereas in the spring ADG of NT and NTCC was greater (P < 0.01) than CONV. Body weight gain per hectare of the steers grazing wheat pasture was 45 kg greater (P ≤ 0.03) for NT than NTCC and CONV. The added gain during the summer for NTCC produced total system BW gain per hectare that was greater (P = 0.03) than CONV and not different (P = 0.84) from NT. This added production could potentially provide economic incentives by offsetting costs of cover crop establishment for NT producers to include cover cropping in their systems, in addition to the agronomic benefits provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-667
Number of pages9
JournalProfessional Animal Scientist
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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