Dr. Alan Franzluebbers, a Southeast Regional Climate Hub (SERCH) partner and scientist for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Raleigh, NC, recently had his research on grazing cattle in cover crop systems published in Southeast Farm Press. Dr. Franzluebbers’ 7-year study in the Piedmont region of North Carolina provides a win-win solution for farmers. By planting cover crops in the off-season, farmers can reduce vulnerability to erosion, particularly during heavy rain events. The cover crops also provide high quality forage for cattle without significantly reducing nutrient levels or compacting the soil. Additionally, much of what is consumed by the cattle is returned to the soil by manure. Farmers also increase their resilience to adverse weather and climate effects by protecting their soil and diversifying their production.
When asked about his research, Dr. Franzleubbers said “The research was revealing in that it refuted a general perspective that grazing would cause soil health decline. There was no change in soil organic C and N between ungrazed and grazed management and that can be considered a positive result. In another report due to be published in the scientific literature later this year, we did observe some enhancement of soil microbial biomass C in the surface soil under grazed cover crops with no tillage.” To learn more about the study, and the specific techniques featured, read the blog written by Dr. Franzluebbers himself on the Landscape for People, Food and Nature Blog, and look out for his upcoming publications. (Photo credit – Steve Knapp, USDA ARS)