Grazing cover crops can be a potential option to re-integrate crops with livestock production and reverse the adverse effects of separating crops and livestock production, despite soil compaction concerns.
The practice of OT once in 5 to 10 years or more is not likely to adversely affect no-till systems. However, to be beneficial, the OT has to be well-planned and implemented to target a well-characterized problem such as a weed control or compaction problem.
This student study of a four-year research project found cover crops may significantly improve soil aggregation and particulate organic matter concentration in the short-term, which suggests the potential for cover crops storing soil carbon in the long term.
This Nebraska student study of how cover crops planted pre- and post-harvest affected soil erodibility found that the amount of water-stable aggregates and biomass production increased with pre-harvest planting.
Results from a three-year study in rainfed and irrigated no-till cropping systems in Nebraska suggest that moderate cattle grazing of cover crops may not negatively impact soil properties and crop production.
Across Nebraska, the use of cover crops is increasing. Most commonly, winter cover crops are planted during the fallow period between corn or soybean harvest and the next crop. However, other windows for cover cropping exist in Nebraska.