Ethanol Blog
Cheryl Anderson DTN Staff Reporter

Monday 12/17/12

DDGS Can Help Pastures Fight Weeds

Feeding dried distillers grains with solubles to cattle on pasture has several benefits. DDGS improves cattle weight gains and reduces the nitrogen producers need to apply to pasture.

The University of Nebraska has found another benefit: supplementing cattle with DDGS can help make pastures more resistant to weed invasions.

A long-term project at the University of Nebraska's Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead, Neb., showed that feeding DDGS to cattle to deliver nitrogen through the manure can hinder weed growth, according to Terry J. Klopfenstein, professor of ruminant nutrition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

With nitrogen fertilizer prices rising in recent years, allowing cattle to apply it through manure is quite natural and environmentally friendly.

The cattle in the project are rotationally grazed from late April through September for 160 days and either fed DDGS on unfertilized smooth brome grass pasture, not supplemented with DDGS on nitrogen-fertilized pasture or are on unfertilized, smooth brome grass pasture. The effect on pasture vegetation was evaluated by measuring the basal and aerial cover of plants, along with the forage yield.

Klopfenstein told DTN that supplementing DDGS on unfertilized pastures provides intermediate resistance to annual weed invasion. He explained the DDGS in the manure does not have a direct effect on weeds to reduce their numbers, but instead provides nitrogen that makes the grass so robust that it out-competes the weeds.

In the end, producers can have better quality pastures and reduce the cost of applying nitrogen by using this method.

Cheryl Anderson can be reached at Cheryl.anderson@telventdtn.com.

Posted at 12:44PM CST 12/17/12 by Cheryl Anderson
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