The Crop Residue Exchange Links Growers and Grazers
In Nebraska, it is common to see cattle grazing corn residue. In addition to providing a winter feed resource, this practice can be used as a management option to increase the amount and rate of corn residue breakdown.
Some crop producers, however, have been concerned about possible negative effects to the next crop after grazing. In our research when corn residue was grazed at proper stocking rates (15% residue removal), crop production after grazing was not reduced. In fact, small, positive impacts of grazing corn residue on subsequent soybean yield occurred.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln recommendations for establishing corn residue stocking rates are based on 50% utilization of leaves and husks (8 pounds per bushel or 20% of the total corn residue). Some additional corn residue disappears through trampling and wind loss, but we have not found increased erosion when only 40% to 50% of the corn residue is removed through grazing. Other factors such as fencing and water availability can be issues with corn residue grazing. Lack of access to cattle is another common reason that corn residue is not grazed.
The Crop Residue Exchange was designed to increase the convenience and accessibility of grazing crop residues. This online exchange assists corn and other crop producers to market crop residue to cattle producers.
A new feature is the “Other” category where producers can list forage cover crops for grazing. This interactive, online tool helps farmers and cattle producers connect and develop mutually beneficial agreements to use crop residue and forage cover crops for grazing.
After establishing a log-in account, farmers can list cropland available for grazing by drawing out the plot of land available using an interactive map. They can then enter basic information about the type of residue, fencing situation, water availability, and dates available and provide their preferred contact information. Livestock producers can log in and search the database for cropland available for grazing within radius of a given location of interest.
Grazing rates listed have ranged from $0.75 to $1 per head per day for fields that were fenced or partially fenced and included water and animal care. In one case the rate was set at $18 per acre.
Development of the Crop Residue Exchange was made possible with funding support from the Nebraska Extension Innovation Grants Program.