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.
Pre- and post-grazing forage samples were collected from three different pasture types to quantify production and forage quality. Milk samples were collected weekly for component analysis at the USDA-ARS Dairy and Functional Foods laboratory in Wyndmoor, PA. Baseline soil samples were also collected from fields that transitioned to pasture this year. Progress was monitored though email contacts and at a planning meeting for the field season held at the Rodale Institute in April.