Featured Spotlight

Lavina Producer Grows 2.5 Ton of Biomass per Acre! 

Jim Ballard, out of Lavina, Montana, had his first experience with cover crops in 2012. Ballard was successful in his first year planting a customized cover crop mix, specific to his goals, after hay on irrigated ground. The following year he tried cover crops again but had little success and contributed it to a pre-made mix that was not specific for his desired accomplishments.

For almost 30 years his dryland was in a winter wheat-fallow rotation. Starting around 2000, Ballard planted crested wheat grass for almost 20 years. He  felt his production could be drastically increased, and decided to plant a cover crop to renovate the field and bring his soil back to life.

After planting 100 acres with his John Deer 9350 box drill June 5th Ballard reaped great rewards in productivity as he had a great moisture year that was well above the average rainfall for the area. There were several big plants that flourished in his field. By the time Ballard was going to graze this pasture he couldn’t see over half of the 250 pairs he let roam for an entire month and moved them off October 15th.

“Cover crops are truly a product that pay for themselves. By allowing cattle to graze my cover crop pasture I saved a month of feed I normally wouldn’t have. It’s also great to realize I’m not only improving the variety in my cows diet, I’m also improving my soil, while decreasing compaction.” -Jim Ballard

During the summer North 40 Ag was able to host a field day on his dryland pasture and forage results showed the above ground biomass produced around 2.5 ton per acre of biomass September 5th. Cattle were able to clean up a lot of the crops from the field, leaving some residue. The field remained wet throughout the entire year. So far this winter the snow has stuck in the cover crops longer than the surrounding fields. With 85% of the ground still covered Ballard looks forward to the improved soil to plant his cover crop into this spring.