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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ALTERNATIVE CROP AND FORAGE PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR IMPROVED NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT
2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
i) Evaluate the effectiveness of alternative forage production systems utilizing animal manures on long-term P and K nutrient budgets, N leaching losses and soil organic carbon dynamics; ii) evaluate alternative rotations that open windows for application of manure, and increase feed production for dairy operations; and iii) design improved organic grain rotations that include manure inputs and produce feed for organic dairy operations.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Improved management of dairy farms requires successful management of nutrient flows, both to maximize nutrient use by animals and crops in order to optimize profit, and to minimize nutrient loss to the environment in order to optimize sustainability. This SCA will continue to monitor long-term cropping systems trials (established 1990) that include three grain- and three forage-production systems. Of particular interest in this study, which includes the use of animal manures, is the comprehensive performance of these production systems. Specifically, participating scientists are not only interested in traditional agronomic measures of forage and grain production, but also in long-term P and K nutrient budgets, N leaching losses, and soil organic C dynamics. Another aspect of these studies seeks to develop conventional and organic crop-management strategies to facilitate the exchange of N, P, and K as manure and feed between neighboring dairy and cash-grain farms. This will be accomplished via on-station and on-farm trials. Finally, a grass ley concept that provides sites for summer manure applications onto perennial-forage sods will be evaluated in replicated plot trials, as well as through assessment of voluntary intake by replacement dairy heifers.


3.Progress Report:

This project addressed Objectives 2 and 4 of the parent project, which include: i) the effects of dairy manure management practices and cropping systems on crop production, soil properties, and loss of nutrients, sediment, and pathogens in surface runoff or atmospheric emissions; and ii) development of crop management strategies to optimize the exchange of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium as manure and feed between neighboring dairy and cash grain farms. This project was a congressionally mandated Specific Cooperative Agreement with the University of Wisconsin that terminated 30 June 2012. Data have been summarized from studies characterizing total organic carbon from pastures managed with intensive rotational grazing. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions have been measured and data summarized from a long-term cropping systems trial. Most recently, research was conducted on a grass-ley concept for summer manure applications that was followed by a completed assessment of voluntary intake of manured and commercially fertilized orchardgrass forages by replacement dairy heifers.


Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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