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Alvaro Garcia

Maintaining acceptable profitability in an environmentally sustainable way are aims of most successful dairy farms. Economies of scale dictate that most farms add cows while either maintaining a similar land base or renting additional area. In order to accomplish this, it is imperative to maximize forage production from their current land base without increasing the environmental footprint.

Double cropping has been suggested as an alternative agricultural practice that reduces the environmental impact and increases forage yield per hectare. Small grain winter annuals, such as rye (Secale cereal L.), triticale (× Triticosecale), wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) can be double cropped with corn silage.

Increasing DM yields, and improving economic and environmental effects of the farm

Small grain winter annual cover crops are terminated before they reach maturity, double-cropped annuals on the other hand, are harvested as grain or preserved as silage. By doing this a double cropping system can increase the demands for nutrient cycling within the farm and reduce the inputs imported into the system. Double cropping can thus increase the profitability of the dairy enterprise by increasing yearly DM yields and improving the economic and environmental effects.

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