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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT OF TEMPERATE PASTURES AND SILVOPASTURES FOR SMALL FARM LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1: Determine management schemes for the sustainable production of small ruminants from temperate pastures. 2: Improve inorganic and organic fertilizer use efficiency in pastures. 2A. Improve the efficiency of organic and inorganic fertilizer use in pastures by incorporating nutrients into the soil. 2B. Evaluate the effects of grazing systems and buffers on the loss of agrochemicals from pastures and hay fields. 3: Determine the agricultural goods (e.g., crops, biomass), and ecosystem services (e.g., habitat) derived at field, farm, and landscape scales. 3A. Determine the production potential of agricultural specialty crops as components of integrated whole-farm production systems. 3A(3). Compare annual crops, perennial grasses, and short-rotation woody crops as biofuel feedstocks. 4: Develop strategies to integrate trees and grazing livestock into existing grasslands, and grasses and grazing livestock into forest stands. 4C. Determine the impacts of trees, forage shade tolerance, fertilization, and management on silvopasture performance. 4C(2). Determine the effects of N fertilization and recovery on integrated softwood-forage silvopastures. 4C(3). Determine the effects of shallow seedbed disking on understory forage production, and on loblolly pine growth and needle production. 4C(4). Determine the effect of tree spacing on wood fiber production when loblolly pine is integrated into grassland. 5: Develop conservation practices to manage the fate and transport of sediments, nutrients, antibiotics, and pathogens from agricultural inputs including synthetic fertilizer, herbicides, grazing livestock manure, and applied poultry manure. 5A. Create a comprehensive understanding of source and amelioration of contaminant transport. 5A(1). Quantify the effectiveness of agroforestry and grass buffers on phosphorus, nitrogen, herbicides, veterinary antibiotics, pathogens, and trace metals in runoff.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Grazing and management systems will be developed for sheep and goat production to manage gastrointestinal nematodes and improve post-weaning gains of lambs and kids. A tractor-drawn implement to incorporate poultry litter under the soil surface in perennial pasture will be developed, and a comparison of nutrient losses from applied poultry litter compared to conventional surface application will be examined. Cattle grazing systems and buffers will be examined to reduce the loss of agrochemicals from pastures and hay fields by collecting runoff water samples from watersheds for sediment and nutrient analyses and soil properties will be characterized. Management practices will be evaluated that optimize the proportion of a landscape/farm in temperate pastures and silvopastures to maximize environmental and economic returns. Potential bioenergy feedstocks will be examined for their suitability to integration in mid-South pasture and silvopasture systems. Tree stocking density, alley spacing, fertilization, and shallow tillage will be evaluated to determine effects on forage, pine straw, wood fiber, and nitrogen recovery. Effects of trees and buffers on run-off and subsurface water quality and volume will be evaluated as a means to reduce off-site environmental impacts. Management practices will be evaluated that optimize the proportion of a landscape/farm in temperate pastures and silvopastures to maximize environmental and economic returns. Diverse bioenergy feedstocks will be examined across a latitudinal gradient for cold tolerance, nutritive value, and yield as a means to enhance integration and economic returns for farms in the mid-South.


3.Progress Report
The University of Missouri is examining the use of pine-tree silvopastures for cow-calf production. Pine trees have been established successfully into tall fescue pastures, with more than 75% survival of the seedling trees. Having trees in the pastures has complicated some managerial decisions, especially those regarding fertilizer and pesticide applications. Animal output from silvopastures has been comparable to pastures without trees. Testing of the poultry litter applicator prototype has continued with field studies to determine its ability to increase crop production while minimizing nutrient losses and to control odors from poultry litter applied to perennial pastures and other no-till agricultural production systems by comparing to conventional surface applications. Treatments have been re-applied to constructed watersheds for runoff and forage production studies in Arkansas, and samples have been collected for analyses. The prototype has been used to apply poultry litter under the surface of no-till research plots in Arkansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, and North Carolina. Studies were conducted to minimize the need for deworming goats, a serious constraint to profitable sheep and goat production. Sericea lespedeza leaf meal pellet supplementation in goats on grass pastures reduced the population of parasitic worms that cause anemia (Haemonchus contortus) as well as the infection level within the animal compared with goats fed a commercial supplement. This led to a reduced incidence of deworming, but similar body weights between groups. Supplementation of SL leaf meal pellets to weaned goats on pasture offers control of Haemonchus contortus leading to conservation of dewormer and potentially slowing dewormer resistance.


4.Accomplishments
1. Influence of season of lambing on parasitic worm infection in lambs. Parasitic worms are a major constraint to sheep production because of dewormer resistance, especially during the warm, humid summer months when the conditions for Haemonchus contortus, a blood sucking worm, are ideal. Researchers at the Dale Bumpers Small Farm Research Center in Booneville, AR, found that by shifting the lambing season to fall, compared with the typical spring lambing, the parasitic worm infection was minimized, leading to fewer lambs that needed deworming. In fall-born lambs, the population of worms changed from H. contortus to Trichostrongylus spp., a less economically important worm in well-managed sheep. Lamb growth was greater in fall-born lambs post-weaning because of the higher quality cool-season forages available. This information is useful for farmers, extension agents, and researchers in identifying management practices to minimize the need for chemical dewormer in sheep and goats.


Review Publications
Soli, F., Terrill, T.H., Shaik, S.A., Getz, W.R., Miller, J.E., Vanguru, M., Burke, J.M. 2010. Efficacy of copper oxide wire particles against gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep and goats. Veterinary Parasitology. 168(1-2):93-96.

Miller, J.E., Burke, J.M., Terrill, T.H., Kearney, M.T. 2011. A comparison of two integrated approaches of controlling nematode parasites in small ruminants. Veterinary Parasitology. 178(3-4):300-310.

Joshi, B.R., Kommuru, D.S., Terrill, T.H., Mosjidis, J.A., Burke, J.M., Shakya, K.P., Miller, J.E. 2011. Effect of feeding Sericea lespedeza leaf meal in goats experimentally infected with Haemonchus contortus. Veterinary Parasitology. 178(1-2):192-197.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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