2021 Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference - Ken Herz
On-Farm Research of Incorporating Cover Crop into a 3 Crop Dryland Rotation - Ken Herz, Owner/Operator of Herz Land and Cattle
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- [00:00:22.370]Our last speaker today is Ken Herz.
- [00:00:25.580]Ken is the owner operator of
Herz land and cattle company.
- [00:00:30.170]Ken's going to present today on some
on farm research of incorporating
- [00:00:35.030]cover crops into a three
crop dry land rotation.
- [00:00:39.320]I know a couple of my grad
students have spent some time,
- [00:00:43.850]working with,
- [00:00:45.410]Jenny and Mary and Ken
on this project.
- [00:00:49.790]so this is, is something
that's, wasn't started,
- [00:00:54.650]just as a, you know, a project.
- [00:00:58.220]This has been a pretty
valuable long-standing project
and I'm looking forward to
- [00:01:03.170]Ken's presentation today, as
I hope everyone else says.
- [00:01:07.730]and so with that, Ken, when,
you're ready. go ahead.
- [00:01:12.830]Okay. Thank you, Darren.
- [00:01:17.090]I really enjoyed all the afternoon
presentations so far really enjoyed
- [00:01:22.010]them. this project is, again,
- [00:01:26.780]had a lot of help with, from
Jenny Reese and Mary Drewnowski
- [00:01:32.300]Michael Sindelair has been
out there an awful lot as a
- [00:01:37.130]Brad chick has also, so,
and a lot of grad students.
- [00:01:41.330]So we really appreciate all the
help that we've, had on this.
- [00:01:46.220]See if I can make this move. I don't know.
- [00:01:53.150]Hang on. Just
- [00:01:58.220]There we go. Okay. Thank you.
a little bit of background.
- [00:02:02.780]we operate, near Lawrence,
Nebraska, South of Hastings here.
- [00:02:06.860]We're all dry land area with 50%
crop land at about 50% range land.
- [00:02:11.930]We, get about, 24
inches of rainfall annually.
- [00:02:16.880]Our operation consists of myself
and my sons. Erin and Zach.
- [00:02:21.620]we have individual operations,
but we work cooperatively.
- [00:02:26.090]Our operation consists
of crops, cow calf,
- [00:02:29.420]be finishing in a better barn.
- [00:02:31.640]And we always look at a systems
approach to everything we
- [00:02:36.530]do. we focus on,
- [00:02:39.200]developing a sustainable
system using cover crops,
- [00:02:42.920]then enhanced environment and the
soils, and that is profitable.
- [00:02:47.690]we approached, Jenny Reese,
- [00:02:50.930]extension educator about an
on farm, research project,
- [00:02:55.910]a number of years ago.
- [00:03:01.270]And, basically what's,
- [00:03:04.150]our system is three crop rotation. we,
- [00:03:09.040]and we also have livestock. And
so what's in the back of our minds.
- [00:03:13.630]Is that on the range land,
- [00:03:16.030]as the season goes on into the
late summer and early fall,
- [00:03:21.340]you have less production
at the range land.
- [00:03:24.400]is there anything we
can do in our crop side,
- [00:03:28.300]such as cover crops behind, wheat,
- [00:03:33.100]that we could transfer some of our grazing
of our livestock from the range land
- [00:03:38.050]to, cover crops. And what
does that do to the whole system?
- [00:03:43.300]Does that make the system more profitable
or what does it do? So, anyhow,
- [00:03:47.560]the intent of the research is to,
- [00:03:50.560]it's a system approach to integrating
livestock into a dry land cropping
- [00:03:53.890]rotation. And, it,
- [00:03:58.210]we want to study the effects of
growing a grazing cover crop on system
- [00:04:01.930]profitability. And we also want to,
study the effects in soil health,
- [00:04:07.030]in an integrated
livestock cropping system.
- [00:04:10.240]This is a three year project
- [00:04:14.260]no crop rotate, no
till, crop rotation.
- [00:04:17.800]We have wheat corn soybeans with
cover crops planted in the cover crop
- [00:04:22.330]treatments, following that wheat only,
- [00:04:25.180]ear grazing other cover crops and corn
residue in grazing cover crop treatment
- [00:04:29.740]only. And we did install one of
Mark's, moisture sensors to,
- [00:04:34.780]determine, the
more soil moisture in soils.
- [00:04:39.730]This is a kind of busy slide, but I
think, information off on the left is,
- [00:04:44.440]is most important. We have
three treatments, wheat
stubble, grazes cover crop,
- [00:04:49.630]and grazes cover crop, and that,
- [00:04:52.180]data collected a soil properties
value of animal grazing,
- [00:04:57.130]the value of a grazing succeeding, a crop.
- [00:04:59.650]You have soil moisture
cover crop biomass.
- [00:05:03.280]there would be four replications
of, each treatment.
- [00:05:12.030]This started in, we, we have
one plot and Nichols County.
- [00:05:16.920]We started in, year, 2016
with, we planted,
- [00:05:21.720]a cool season cover crop.
17 was planted to corn.
- [00:05:25.780]The corn residue is
grazesd and, and,
- [00:05:28.680]grazes cover crop treatment in
2018. Soybeans were planted.
- [00:05:33.060]Wheat was planted in the fall 2019,
- [00:05:35.890]and wheat was harvested
in the Nuckolls season.
- [00:05:38.520]Cover crop was planted
in wheat stubble, in,
- [00:05:43.260]2020, corn was
planted, this year,
- [00:05:48.090]sorry, beans would be
planted in this fall.
- [00:05:51.090]We will be planted into the soybeans.
- [00:05:54.450]we did add another site
in Webster County in 2018.
- [00:05:58.820]We had a warm season cover crop
planted in wheat stubble. And,
- [00:06:03.920]we had, it was, grazesd.
- [00:06:08.210]we had corn resident, corn
planted in 2019 and soybeans,
- [00:06:13.730]were planted to slash.
- [00:06:20.890]Year the cover crop in Nuckolls
County. It was planted in August 14th.
- [00:06:26.170]following wheat harvest
this particular year was very,
- [00:06:29.800]very dry during the summertime.
we had very little moisture,
- [00:06:34.960]available after we'd harvest.
- [00:06:38.140]we waited until we had
a half inch of moisture.
- [00:06:40.810]We went out the next day and
planted a cover crop. And,
- [00:06:45.460]as things happen,
- [00:06:48.280]the next 10 days we had about six
inches of rain and they were,
- [00:06:53.260]small rains, that
we didn't have much runoff.
- [00:06:57.850]So we ended up, having a
really good stand of cover crop,
- [00:07:02.500]a lot of growth.
biomass measured w
- [00:07:07.510]October 19th was 3000 for 400 pounds.
- [00:07:11.770]And it consists mainly of,
of grasses, the spring,
- [00:07:15.670]triticale the oats and
turnips. we put some,
- [00:07:20.860]cattle out there on November.
- [00:07:24.130]we grazesd them for 22 days and, we,
- [00:07:28.990]after the grazing, we had, 2100,
- [00:07:33.400]pounds of cover ma
pounds of biomass still present.
- [00:07:38.560]We were worried about overgrazing
because we wanted to protect the
- [00:07:43.360]soil. In hindsight, we probably could
have grazesd it a little bit more.
- [00:07:48.370]but anyhow, we had, quite a
bit of, of grazing out there.
- [00:07:57.280]This, 2019 was totally different gear.
- [00:08:01.210]A cover crop was planted on
nine three September the third.
- [00:08:06.190]it, it was 10 pounds of
winter peas, 25 pounds of winter.
- [00:08:10.630]Triticale 25 pounds of black oats,
- [00:08:13.450]and 1.3 pounds of colors,
- [00:08:15.940]and 1.3 pounds of turnips
because of the year,
- [00:08:20.500]because it was so wet that year we
had, the wheat harvest was delayed,
- [00:08:25.480]and it was really wet.
- [00:08:29.770]the crop was delayed,
- [00:08:34.450]it was also a very cool what fall.
- [00:08:37.900]we did not get very much,
growth out of there. And so,
- [00:08:42.670]we only had,
- [00:08:45.160]8.66 animal unit months
grazing, because of that,
- [00:08:50.140]as you can see on the picture,
- [00:08:52.390]there's not much difference
on the left side, is,
- [00:08:55.170]was grazes on the right side
is what was left on grazes.
- [00:09:00.030]that was a cover crop was
terminated, in the spring
- [00:09:08.170]County cover crop. Okay. If we shift over
to the Webster County cover crop,
- [00:09:13.150]when we planted this cover crop, we
have his planet after a very,
- [00:09:17.500]another very dry here. the wheat,
- [00:09:20.870]only made about 35 bushel.
it was pretty dry, but,
- [00:09:25.850]we planted, into that wheat,
- [00:09:29.810]as you can see the stubble. There's
probably only about four inches high.
- [00:09:34.310]We planted into that,
- [00:09:35.890]immediately after a
harvest and we got good
- [00:09:40.550]emergence, pretty quick.
- [00:09:44.900]this is what the cover crop ended up
looking like in the fall when we were
- [00:09:48.560]grazing it, we had an awful
lot of growth out there.
- [00:09:53.510]this is another picture
of, Webster County,
- [00:09:58.520]cover crop.
- [00:10:01.340]the picture on the left is
right before the grazing.
- [00:10:04.880]you can see that mountain of
material that's out there.
- [00:10:07.850]This was a different mix that
we planted out there.
- [00:10:11.390]this was seven pounds of BMR sorghum
- [00:10:13.700]and four pounds that
Pearl mmillet and,
- [00:10:17.240]two pounds of radishes.
- [00:10:20.360]we had 8,400 pounds of biomass out there,
- [00:10:25.280]before grazing,
- [00:10:28.160]the picture on the right
is a picture after the
- [00:10:32.600]grazing was completed as,
- [00:10:36.230]the livestock that we had out there
didn't, didn't have enough time.
- [00:10:40.880]We had to bring them home for calving.
- [00:10:44.360]there was a lot more grazing that
was available out there. so,
- [00:10:49.040]and you can see,
the lines between,
- [00:10:54.380]what was left on grazes and what was grazes.
- [00:10:57.890]And you can see that there was
quite a bit of material left.
- [00:11:01.130]Out there.
- [00:11:03.620]the Mercer County,
- [00:11:07.100]cover crop field was at 52 acres in it.
- [00:11:10.820]We raised 35 head out there
for 91 days. And as I said,
- [00:11:15.170]there was quite a bit of four-ish
remained in the grays area.
- [00:11:19.490]we did not, get a
pulse grazing biomass.
- [00:11:25.310]Okay. Let's talk about
yields a little bit.
- [00:11:29.000]if we go back to Nuckolls
County, if we look at,
- [00:11:32.690]2017, that was the first
year after the cover crop,
- [00:11:37.700]our corn yield, we, had,
- [00:11:42.740]two 13,
- [00:11:45.320]for the cover crop that was
non-graded to 11, bushel,
- [00:11:49.520]an acre for the cover crop
that was grazesd in two 18,
- [00:11:54.670]for the stubble, the wheat stubble,
- [00:11:58.570]on 2018, the chart right below it,
- [00:12:02.620]it was soybeans. and this is
where the surprise came into us.
- [00:12:10.090]2018 and across most
Nebraska was, very wet,
- [00:12:15.280]but we were in a really,
really dry spot. And,
- [00:12:19.180]we seem like we could not
buyer rain. anyhow,
- [00:12:23.560]it was really starting to affect
the soybeans. And you could see,
- [00:12:28.720]the line between,
- [00:12:31.030]the cover crop that was grazes
and the cover crop that wasn't
- [00:12:35.740]grazes. There was a yield
difference in there.
- [00:12:40.300]the cover crop that was non
grazesd, 50 bushel, an acre,
- [00:12:44.470]the cover crop that was, grazes
was 40 bushel an acre, so that,
- [00:12:49.030]there was, that's,
- [00:12:51.780]a sizeable amount in 2019,
- [00:12:56.680]after the 18, soybeans soon,
it was planted to wheat. we,
- [00:13:01.360]the wheat yields were, not
much difference, 84 bushel,
- [00:13:05.380]84 bushel and 83 bushel.
- [00:13:08.320]So there wasn't very much difference
than there. And then 2020,
- [00:13:13.090]this last year, it was a corn again,
- [00:13:15.790]the cover crop that was non
grazesd at a yield of 215
- [00:13:20.860]cover crop that was grazesd
as 216 bushel, an acre.
- [00:13:24.850]And the wheat stubble that was
non grazes was 226 bushel an
- [00:13:29.620]acre. Okay.
- [00:13:33.520]If we look at the economic
analysis of this year,
- [00:13:37.370]the Nuckolls County farm,
- [00:13:39.730]and we can start on this
and we keep adding,
- [00:13:44.800]the returns or, every year.
- [00:13:48.160]So in the first year when we had,
2000, when we just had the cover crop,
- [00:13:53.410]it, the cover crop
that no, it was non grazes.
- [00:13:56.330]It costs us $46 an acre, for the seed,
- [00:14:00.670]basically for the seed and
for the drilling costs,
- [00:14:05.530]the cover crop, that was great
because we got the grazing out of it,
- [00:14:10.180]returned about $22 an acre,
- [00:14:13.990]the wheat stubble that, was
just, chemically fallowed.
- [00:14:18.670]We had about $18 in costs in that,
- [00:14:22.420]the 2017 corn crop.
as you can see,
- [00:14:27.550]it was, pretty close
to the same returns on,
- [00:14:32.080]on every treatment,
- [00:14:34.330]the 2018 soybean crop
because of that low yield
- [00:14:39.160]and the cover crop,
that was grazesd,
- [00:14:43.210]and actually had a negative return to it.
- [00:14:46.420]2019 week yields,
- [00:14:49.450]returns were about equal.
- [00:14:52.460]And so the three-year
total is about 278 for
- [00:14:57.350]the cover crop that was non non-graded,
- [00:14:59.450]two 72 for the cover
crop that was grazes and
- [00:15:03.590]$333 an acre for what
you'd call the traditional
- [00:15:08.030]system. If we get to 2019, again,
- [00:15:13.010]we added the cover crop to it.
- [00:15:15.380]you can see the costs there again for,
- [00:15:19.310]you add in this year's
corn yield. And,
- [00:15:22.940]it was like $304 an acre for
the cover crop that was non
- [00:15:27.890]grazesd, 311 for cover crop.
- [00:15:30.920]That was grazed on 342 for
the traditional system.
- [00:15:35.540]So for six years, total,
- [00:15:37.700]we ended up with $533 for the cover crop.
- [00:15:41.510]That was non-grazed $604 for the
cover crop that was grazes and
- [00:15:46.100]$658 for the week
stubble. That was,
- [00:15:51.080]that was non grazed and each,
- [00:15:55.820]analysis of the
economic analysis of this.
- [00:15:58.580]We use the UNL budgets
each year, so that,
- [00:16:02.990]that were, closest to the system.
- [00:16:06.290]And the reason we did that is so
that, anyone could compare costs,
- [00:16:12.740]the costs of the cover crop include
seed and cover crop seed.
- [00:16:17.290]we added fence labor for gracing
and hauling water added to the cover
- [00:16:21.830]crop treatment. And,
- [00:16:24.620]we put a value on the animal
unit months grays to add value
- [00:16:29.510]to the cover crop that
was grazes cost of $18,
- [00:16:34.310]an acre, as you can see in the,
- [00:16:36.350]for the 2016 cover crop on
the wheat stubble was,
- [00:16:41.180]the chemical burned down
a wheat, a value of $5.
- [00:16:45.110]An acre was added to,
the value of the,
- [00:16:49.680]grazing in the corn residue. And, and,
- [00:16:53.000]the value of the crop at
each harvest was based upon
- [00:16:57.680]on-farm research studies,
- [00:16:59.450]the prices that they use
for those particular years,
- [00:17:04.900]if we look at the crop Neils
and the Webster County,
- [00:17:09.280]and corn in 2019, we
had a yield of 109 80,
- [00:17:14.200]189 bushel, an acre for the
cover crop that was non grazing,
- [00:17:17.680]191 for the cover crop
that was grazesd in 187
- [00:17:22.630]for the wheat stubble. That was
non grazesd. the soybean,
- [00:17:27.730]yields, were,
- [00:17:31.720]61 bushel, an acre for the cover
crop, non grazesd, 62 bushel,
- [00:17:36.250]an acre for the cover crop that
was Grayson 60 bushel, for the,
- [00:17:41.170]we struggled. That was not great.
- [00:17:45.670]So if we look at the economic summary,
- [00:17:48.880]I've watched her County for the cover
crops. Now you have to remember,
- [00:17:52.320]we had an awful lot of bio,
additional biomass out there.
- [00:17:56.970]And so the cover crop, non grazed
for just looking at the year,
- [00:18:01.540]the cover crop,
- [00:18:03.540]was the negative $41 because of
the planting and the seed costs,
- [00:18:08.010]the cover crop. that was great.
- [00:18:10.740]We had a positive return of $74 and,
- [00:18:16.080]for the wheat stubble, again,
it was $18 for the,
- [00:18:19.710]chemical fallowing of
the wheat stubble on,
- [00:18:24.060]2019, the corn,
- [00:18:28.260]we had a return of $285 an
acre for the cover crop.
- [00:18:33.210]That was non-graded 298 for the
cover crop that was grazes and
- [00:18:40.110]wheat stubble that was not
grazed for the soybeans.
- [00:18:43.350]We had a return of $190 an
acre for the cover crop.
- [00:18:47.890]that was 202 for
the cover crop that was grazes
- [00:18:52.680]and 183 for the stubble
that was non grazesd.
- [00:18:56.190]So that would give us a, a two
year total for the cover crop,
- [00:19:00.600]non grazesd, the $443 an acre for,
- [00:19:05.550]the, again, the cover crop
that was non grease, 540,
- [00:19:08.910]$54 an acre for the cover
crop that was grazes and
- [00:19:13.410]$443, for the wheat stubble.
- [00:19:17.790]So you can see that there was,
quite a bit of difference,
- [00:19:21.960]the type of a cover crop that
was used. And I have to,
- [00:19:26.700]explain a little bit about the cover
crop that was used in this,
- [00:19:30.420]Webster County farm. That particular
farm was in the C S a P program.
- [00:19:35.670]So that was kind of dictated, the,
- [00:19:40.690]the cover crop mix that we had to
use. Then it was also dictated,
- [00:19:45.450]when we could start raising it. Okay.
- [00:19:50.450]Take home points after three years,
- [00:19:53.000]grazes cover crop treatments had total
microbial and fun Joe biomass and
- [00:19:57.890]other treatments. I
don't know, we must,
- [00:20:02.300]after three years, no difference
in soil, physical properties,
- [00:20:05.270]amongst treatments,
- [00:20:07.670]economic returns for cover crops in
a system need to include the seed
- [00:20:12.780]and seeding costs, fence labor,
hauling, water, animal care,
- [00:20:16.640]grazing value in the
future. we have to,
- [00:20:21.560]get a butter hand
on how we understand,
- [00:20:26.090]the benefits to the soil,
- [00:20:29.030]cover crop biomass dependent
upon the planning, timing,
- [00:20:32.120]and environmental conditions.
Cool season cover crops,
- [00:20:35.990]produced less biomass and was more
variable over the years in warm
- [00:20:40.670]season, cover crop. And again, ungrazesd,
- [00:20:43.880]we stumbled as the most economic
treatment with the coolest season cover.
- [00:20:47.830]When's water had to be hauled for
cattle grazing and, and grazes.
- [00:20:52.450]A cover crop was the most economic
treatment. One warm season cover crop.
- [00:20:57.490]When water didn't have to be
hauled for the cattle,
- [00:21:02.500]I would like to put a plug in for
the Nebraska and farm research,
- [00:21:06.160]network results, meetings.
- [00:21:08.770]And that would be February
25th and 26. you can grab,
- [00:21:13.390]get an awful lot of
information from, the seminar.
- [00:21:18.100]So, with that, I think,
- [00:21:22.660]that's the end of what I have.
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