The tight supply of forages has caused a big upswing in the utilization of corn residue in Nebraska. Cows grazing cornstalks and big bales of corn stover are common sights this winter.
But University of Nebraska feedlot nutrition specialist Galen Erickson is advocating for even greater use of corn residue in the future.
“We’re on a mission to improve the use of our residue across the state,” Erickson says. “We still don’t think we use near as much as we should or could. In fact, if we fed all the residue to cattle that are possible in our state, we’d only use ten percent of the irrigated acres that are out there for residue.”
Erickson and his colleagues have done considerable research on increasing the inclusion of cornstalks and corn residue in range and feedlot diets. “We think that over the next five to ten years, this is one of our untapped resources that we can use in a state like Nebraska better than anywhere else—and also in a sustainable manner.”
As corn yields continue to increase, Erickson says, so will the amount of residue left in the fields.
“I see actually removing residue as becoming more critical in the future—if for no other reason—from an agronomic standpoint,” Erickson says, “and I’d much rather see that residue used for cattle in a state like ours, than tilling that residue to get it worked in.”
At the recent Fremont Corn Expo in Fremont, Nebraska, Erickson was joined by UNL nutrient management specialist Charles Wortmann in a presentation entitled “How Cornstalks Can Bring Value Back To Nebraska”.