2011 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Quantify the ability of integrated crop and livestock systems to increase soil health and carbon sequestration, reduce dependence on fossil-fuel-based inputs, and improve economic returns for farmers, relative to cash grain systems.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
A research-demonstration project will be established at the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA, comparing two systems: (1) two years of row crops (corn 1 year, soybean 1 year) followed by two years of pasture, and (2) a standard cash grain (corn-soybean) cropping system. Baseline data on soil quality will be collected during site preparation in 2010, and the cropping systems will be implemented in 2011 with yields, soil health, and soil carbon and greenhouse gas emissions measured in 2011 and 2012. Economic analyses, data summary, and publications will be conducted and prepared in 2012. This research will provide new information on how to integrate pasture into row crop cash grain systems. The data on soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions will be submitted to the USDA-ARS GRACEnet national project to enhance and expand the agricultural emissions database. These data will provide better information for targeting climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Several meetings were held between Rodale and ARS personnel to begin planning research at Rodale Institute. Soil samples were collected to determine base-line C and N levels and perennial cool-season pasture were established at Rodale. The continuing resolution in March 2011 terminated the Congressional appropriations funding this project, essentially ending ARS involvement. Plans were made for Rodale to spend out remaining funds and complete the project by December 2012.