Today, the Farm Progress Show wrapped up. Because of record heat (about 100F) for the second and last days, it probably wasn’t a record turnout, though the event is still the largest outdoor farm show in the country.
As in past years, Annual Ryegrass continues to gain in popularity as a cover crop. Hundreds dropped by each day, pointedly saying, “I’ve heard of this…tell me more about how it works.” While newer cover crops have gained new adherants to cover cropping, annual ryegrass continues to gain from years of buzz among those who’ve tried it and found it useful in their crop rotation.
Perhaps the most surprising thing, however, was how many came to the booth asking about annual ryegrass as a forage crop, with dairy cows, beef cattle and other livestock. “I’m guessing it was 30% of people who stopped by were interested in adding this to their farm operation,” said Mike Plumer, a cover crop consultant from Indiana.
Several things are driving farmers to add annual ryegrass to their crop rotation; among the most popular are the cost for grain and interest in grass fed animals by the consuming public. Annual ryegrass is highly desirable for livestock, as they find it more palatable than other grasses and grain. Additionally, annual ryegrass contains far more protein (as high as 23%) than alfalfa.
Annual ryegrass is uniquely suited to fit in a crop rotation that includes corn, soybeans and livestock.