DEVELOPING SUSTAINABLE CROP AND ANIMAL PRODUCTION SYSTEMS SUITABLE FOR THE SOUTHEAST
Location: Athens, Georgia
Project Number: 6612-61660-001-00
Start Date: Nov 20, 2003
End Date: Sep 30, 2008
The project has three main objectives:
1: Develop alternative cover crop and tillage systems that decrease production costs, increase productivity, and enhance productivity of cotton production for the Southeast.
2: Evaluate three management factors (i.e., tillage, time of grain cropping, and cover crop management) for their impacts on plant and animal productivity, soil quality, and fluxes of potential pollutants to the environment in integrated crop/animal production.
3: Develop appropriate conservation tillage systems for integrating winter-grazing of stocker cattle with summer cash crop production.
We will use both on-station and on-farm research studies to investigate objectives within this project. In objective 1 we will evaluate diverse cover crop systems to improve habitat for beneficial insects and reduce pest insect pressures, determine which mixture of winter cover crops will improve N availability, develop cropping systems that increase crop biomass inputs to soil to enhance the biologically active pools of soil C and N and improve soil physical properties, and engage producers in on-farm research studies to improve acceptance and understanding of sustainability at the farm and rural community levels. For objective 2, we will quantify plant and animal productivity, responses in soil properties, and water runoff due to tillage management under cropping systems that include grazing cattle and high cropping intensity following long-term pasture, quantify the rate of soil organic C and N loss following conversion of long-term pasture to short-term cropping, quantify cattle performance during short-term grazing alternatives to perennial pastures, quantify the changes in total cattle parasite load and species composition following summer versus winter grazing of cover crops, and develop a minimum dataset approach for assessing the basic changes in soil quality due to differences in management in the Southern Piedmont region. For objective 3 we will determine practical and economic considerations for balancing needs of forage for grazing vs. residue provided to enhance double-cropped cash crops, determine the depth and degree of compaction from grazing and determine optimum tillage system for ameliorating compaction from grazing.