Iowa State University is hosting 3 field days in April in northeast Iowa as part of a research project demonstrating the use of winter annuals for spring grazing. 

Many Iowa farmers grow winter annual forages as a cover crop to improve soil health and water quality. The forages also reduce feed costs and improve the health of spring calving cow herds when used for early spring grazing.

Denise Schawb, Iowa State University extension beef specialist, says the farmers hosting the 3 April field days will share their experiences with growing and grazing annual forages. Extension staff will also share yield data from research trials and management tips for grazing winter annuals. The field day dates, locations and descriptions are as follows:

  • Tuesday, April 19. Lillie Beringer farm, 28031 Goose Hill Road, Cascade. As a beginning farmer with both spring and fall calving herds, Beringer uses cover crops as a tool to reduce feed costs and provide a healthy location for spring calves. This year, she has 40 acres of cereal rye seeded after corn silage harvest. She plans to graze until about May 1, then terminate the rye and plant the next grain crop.
  • Tuesday, April 26. Matthew and Dan Harting, 10515 Bishop Road, LaPorte City. Matthew and Dan have cover crops on much of their corn residue acres. Some will be grazed, some will be chopped for feed and some will be terminated. Following the cover crop, they will strip-till corn on most of the fields with beans on the remainder.
  • Wednesday, April 27. Dan Welter farm, 6608 170th St., Onslow (just southeast of the Welter Seed & Honey plant). For decades, Welter has planted cereal grains behind chopped corn silage to be grazed in the both the fall and spring. Over the years, he's experimented with annual forage species as well as establishment practices. In case of inclement weather, meet at the seed plant.

The field days are free and open to anyone. They start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 9 a.m. RSVP by calling the Benton County Extension office at 319-472-4739 or emailing with your name, the location you plan to attend and number of participants.

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