“Refining dairy forage rotations with cool season annual grasses,” led by Jason Cavadini, an assistant superintendent, agronomist and certified crop adviser at the UW-Marshfield Agricultural Research Station. Matt Akins is collaborating on this research.
Project summary: There is more attention than ever on the sustainability of dairy-farming practices. The dairy community must prioritize land and water by identifying practices that are geographically appropriate and environmentally resilient. Alfalfa, a staple crop and dairy ration, is vulnerable to challenging environmental conditions in Wisconsin. Because milk production has been prioritized over crop and soil health, alfalfa has been furthered stressed.
Farmers are beginning to replace alfalfa with crops more appropriate for their landscape and management goals. Many cool-season annual grasses are more economical to establish and maintain while also exceeding in yield and quality. One of the most common annual grasses used is Italian ryegrass, which currently lacks consistent management recommendations. Current fertilizer and nitrogen recommendations negate its benefits. While Italian ryegrass provides great promise, nutrient-management standards that strike a balance between milk production and land and water stewardship must be identified to avoid unintended environmental consequences.
The goal of the trial is to develop sound nitrogen recommendations for Italian ryegrass in dairy crop rotations.