Alternative Continuous-Cover Dairy Forage System for Profitability, Flexibility and Soil Health

SARE Outreach
Paul Cerosaletti and Lisa Fields | 2012 | 11 pages
cows eating grass

With small- to mid-sized Northeast dairy farmers facing increasingly challenging labor, weather and feed-cost constraints, it has become essential to have a flexible system where they can grow their own high-quality dairy forage in corn- and alfalfa-based cropping systems.

In a SARE-funded study in New York, a cooperative team of farmers, researchers and consultants addressed these constraints in dairy farm rotations by developing an alternative forage cropping system with multiple options to produce high-quality forages. This system—Alternative Continuous-Cover Forage (ACCF)—produces high-quality dairy cattle forage with yields comparable to traditional cropping systems, and is based on soil health management, as opposed to the traditional crop rotation of corn silage for three or more years without the use of cover crops.

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