Have you ever studied your cattle, peacefully grazing, and stopped to appreciate the sight? It’s a serene picture. But there’s a dark side to this peaceful scene, too. As someone who works the land, you understand grazing doesn’t come without consequences. When cattle graze on pastureland, they pull the roots from the ground, which leads to soil degradation. It’s difficult for crops to thrive in soil that’s been depleted of organic matter. This is where pasture cropping, or profitable agriculture, provides an ideal solution.
Have You Heard About Pasture Cropping?
Pasture cropping refers to the seeding of off-season crops into dormant pastureland, and it does great things, such as:
- Replacing the organic matter your seasonal crops need to thrive
- Preventing soil erosion while providing additional food for livestock or additional marketable crops
- Improving the pasture’s ability to retain water
- Allowing you to derive benefits from the land year-round
This type of profitable agriculture requires zero tilling and fewer harsh pesticides because it takes place during the off-season when traditional pests are dormant. Farmers in Australia have been perfecting the tradition of pasture cropping since the 1990s. Now U.S. agriculture is taking up the torch, learning new ways to enhance healthy microbial activity and increase organic decomposition in depleted soil.
Is Pasture Cropping Right for You?
As the person responsible for farming your fields and feeding your cattle, you’re the only one who can answer this question. However, farmers Down Under have tried it and found it to be immensely beneficial. After all, it’s a low-cost conservation method that’s completely friendly to the environment. It puts dormant pastureland back to work over the off-season months, and it can result in soil that’s rich in carbon dioxide and other necessary nutrients. Additionally, it allows you to graze your animals right up until you’re ready to plant your off-season crops. This is actually good for the pasture crop because it mows down weeds and eliminates a lot of the roots that would otherwise interfere with growth. In other words, the cattle do the tilling and soil preparation. You simply sow the off-season crop directly into the recently grazed pasture and reap the rewards.
Can this type of regenerative agriculture bring in more money? Absolutely. Regardless of whether you decide to sow your fields with a cover crop or a cash crop, you’ll benefit either now or later. Either you’ll grow a crop that’s harvested for market, or you’ll greatly improve the quality of your soil for spring planting. The results are win-win.
Which Crops Are Best for This Type of Profitable Agriculture?
Australian farmers have had great success direct-sowing temperate cereal grains such as barley, triticale, oats, and wheat into summer pastures. As a result, they’re left with crops that can be harvested at the end of the season or crops that can act as additional winter forage for cattle.
If you’re interested in the benefits of pasture cropping, and would like to try it on your own farm, we may be able to help fund your startup costs. Call today to learn more.