Soil Amendments with cover Crops Creates Revenue
We are currently planning what additional cover crops we want to plant in our paddocks. We planted oats in several paddocks to supplement the dormant grasses during winter. This provides small farmers additional opportunities they may not have realized. While we plant as a supplemental green feed for cattle, the oats plant themselves fix nitrogen in the soil which is needed to improve the grasses during the Spring.
To plant cover crops does not require that the native grasses be removed. The cover crops can be planted on top of the grasses that currently exist. For example, during the Spring we will have all 26 of our native grasses growing in the paddocks. At the same time we will plant 2-row Barley in several paddocks. The Barley also fixes Nitrogen in the soil which is needed by the native grasses. Once the Barley produces its seed, we will harvest the Barley for sale to local Micro-Brewers. Once harvested we will allow the cattle to eat the rest of the plants and the native grasses.
This model provides the small farmer an additional revenue stream, Nitrogen for the soil and native grasses, and additional food for the cattle. Careful planning can create nutrient fixation other than Nitrogen and additional revenue. For example, Quinoa, Barley, and Oats fix Nitrogen. Each of those three plants has a market in the grass-fed communities. What plants provide Potassium and Phosphorus?