Certified organic grain has become increasingly expensive. Little research is available on the results of grain supplementation levels and the subsequent impacts on the economics of milk production.  By looking at the various implications of several levels of grain supplementation in comparison to 100-percent grass-fed herds, we've developed practical strategies for enhancing dairy profitability.

Researchers at Iowa State University, the U of MN, and Rodale Institute are in the second year of a four-year project to evaluate the production, environmental, and economic benefits of growing cash crops with forage crops for grazing, including small grains and hay crops for livestock feed. They are comparing two crop rotations—pasture-winter wheat-soybean-pasture and pasture-winter rye/hairy vetch-corn-pasture—and grazing dairy steers on the cover crops as a method of integrating livestock and organic cropping systems.

The WCROC in Morris, MN, currently has 300 acres of organic cropland.  In 2016, we conducted an organic corn variety trial comparing ten varieties under conventional and organic production systems.  

One method of improving yield and productivity is to grow two crops in the same growing season.  At the U of MN West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC), Morris, winter wheat and winter rye was grown for forage and then followed with corn and soybeans.  This system worked quite well, and may be especially beneficial for organic producers.


December 8, 2016

Temp High (F) Temp Low (F) Precipitation (in.) Growing Degree Days
15 11 .01 0
Soil Temp - 2" Max Soil Temp - 2" Min Soil Temp - 4" Max Soil Temp - 4" Min
29 28