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A multi-disciplinary team of researchers at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln will research the impact of cover crops and grazing on soil health and system economics. The project is funded by a $74,381 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

Cover crops have the potential to improve soil health and sustainability of cropping information, however there is little information regarding the effects of grazing cover crops in Midwestern cropping systems. To gather this information the team plans to evaluate the impacts of incorporating cover crops and grazing on soil health in corn silage-soybean, corn grain-soybean, and corn grain-soybean-wheat rotations in eastern Nebraska, while also conducting a systems analysis and determine economic impact.

“Using cover crops as a forage source can be a way to offset economic costs and generate additional revenue,” said Beef Systems Specialist, Mary Drewnoski. “Based off of our research we plan to inform Nebraska crop and cattle producers of the potential impacts of incorporating cover crops and grazing into their system.

The multi-disciplinary team working on this project brings together approaches to integrated crop-cattle systems that combine efficient production of human consumable protein (beef), improvements in soil health, and mitigation of environmental impacts to develop sustainable management practices that support ecosystems. In addition to Drewnoski, the team consists of Humberto Blanco and Daren Redfearn, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture; Jim MacDonald, Department of Animal Science; and Jay Parsons, Department of Agricultural Economics.

The project is one of the 105 projects receiving $18,301,819 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year. The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $289 million in grants to over 2,000 projects across the state.

For more information of integrated crop-cattle systems including updates from the project visit

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