Beef Tips

KSRE Winter 2017-2018 Crop Residue Survey

by Sandy Johnson, extension beef specialist, Colby, KS; and Dale Blasi, stocker, forages nutrition & management specialist

Kansas agriculture agents surveyed 180 producers from November 2017 through March of 2018 on their use of crop residue for grazing livestock.   Responses came from producers that raise crops and graze their own crop residue (51%), do not have crop ground but rent or lease crop residue to graze (22%), grow crops and do not let livestock graze residue (17%) and raise crops and sometimes rent crop residue for grazing (9%).  Crops raised included 56% corn, 60% soybeans, 35% milo and 34% alfalfa.  Corn was the most common crop available for grazing (55%) followed by hay regrowth (47%), milo (35%), alfalfa (30%) and soybeans (30%).  A majority of responses were from east central Kansas as shown in Figure 1.  Location of grazing was provide in 145 responses, 27 respondents reported grazing crop residue in 2 or more counties.

If a fee was associated with grazing, 55% indicated they used a dollar per acre charge and 45% used a dollar per head value.   When given on a dollar per acre basis (n=25), responses for a reasonable price for grazing crop residue ranged from $4 to $50.  The highest value was provide by a producer that did not allow crop residue grazing.  If calculated on a per head per day basis (n=26), values ranged from $0.11 to $1 hd/day.  Several comments pointed out that pricing negotiations included considerations of need and provider of fence and water in addition to amount of residue and downed grain.

When considering all responses, the availability of water was the most important factor determining if crop residue grazing took place (Figure 2).  If only responses from those that grew crops but did not let livestock graze residue were considered, fencing was the most important factor followed by availability of water and then compaction.

Additional comments made from respondents pointed to several benefits of grazing: reduce volunteer roundup ready corn; cattle consume leaves that otherwise blow off the field; manure and urine are left on the field after grazing.

Sincere appreciation is expressed to the producers that took the time to contribute to this effort and the extension agents that encouraged them to do so.

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