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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

2013 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.

3. Progress Report:
This is the final report for this project. This work focused on 3 farms, allowing the group to study several transitions taking place including: 1) the transition of Rodale land (soil) from 40 years of organic grain crop/hay rotations to less crop intensive pasture/crop rotation that will provide direct pasture for animals; 2) the transition of a neighboring farm from chemical intensive, double or triple cropped grain forage to organic pasture; and 3) the transition of the cows on the neighboring farm from conventional grain/forage indoor management to grass-based outdoor management. These transitions were initiated during this agreement but will take several years to be completed and will continue beyond the termination of this agreement. Lessons learned relating to pasture and animal management will be incorporated into future management plans as these farms continue to transition to organic grazing management.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/22/2017
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