Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 23, 2009
Publication Date: August 23, 2009
Citation: Hunt, P.G., Cantrell, K.B., Vanotti, M.B., Novak, J.M., Bauer, P.J., Szogi, A.A., Ro, K.S., Stone, K.C. 2009. Green and profitable farming systems for the southeastern USA. Proceedings of the Farming Systems Design 2009 International Symposium, August 23-26, 2009, Monterey, California. 2 pp. Technical Abstract: Although most of the farms of the southeastern USA are relatively small, they often have profit centers of livestock or high value crops. Thus, agribusiness (livestock, timber, and high value crops) is critical to the region’s economy. The region has temperatures that allow plant growth for the entire year, and it has ample but erratic rainfall. While the rain falls on soils with generally low organic matter contents and water holding capacities, the region has the potential to produce significant cellulosic bioenergy. These circumstances present a combination of resource, business, and marketing conditions that can potentially be molded into green and profitable farming systems. To accomplish the desired farming-system innovations, management of livestock waste must be made environmentally benign and sustainable. This can be done with existing and emerging technologies that 1) extract and recycle excess nutrients, 2) destroy pathogenic microbes and pharmaceutically active compounds, 3) produce bioenergy, and 4) create carbon credits. The bioenergy conversion technologies will be compact and thermochemical. They will convert blends of wood, grass, and livestock waste feedstocks into energy. They will also produce a range of products including biochar that can be used to build soil quality and create carbon credits. The farms will use 1) conservation tillage to protect and build soil resources, 2) forage/bioenergy crops including summer legumes such as Crotolaria juncea to be used in crop rotations that optimally use nitrogen fixation and 3) genetically advanced crops, selected for short-term drought tolerance, to buffer against drought while allowing the benefits of rainfall. With sufficient storage, effective recycling, and subsurface irrigation; water can be ensured for high value crops. In total, the new systems will be high tech, robust, green, and profitable.