Farmers in northwest Iowa are discovering that cover crops not only have benefits in reducing soil erosion and nutrient loss, but for feeding cattle, too.

Through a grant from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) launched a study with four farmers in the North Raccoon watershed to determine the benefits from utilizing cover crops as a forage.

"Planting cover crops, then grazing or harvesting them, is a practical way to effectively reduce nutrient pollution, plus provide economic benefits to cattle owners," said Meghan Filbert, livestock coordinator for PFI. "Through this project, we’re really trying to figure out the value of cover crops through ruminants."

Two of the farmers, Wesley Degner and Ben Albright,...