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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research » Research » Research Project #437210

Research Project: Back to the Future: Enhancing Food Security and Farm Production with Integrated Crop-Livestock Production Systems

Location: Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research

Project Number: 3042-21000-034-006-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2019
End Date: Sep 30, 2021

Overall objectives: Objective 1. Ecosystem services from Integrated Crop Livestock (ICL) Systems. Determine environmental and sustainability benefits of ICL systems at multi-state scale utilizing existing and new field sites. Objective 2. Livestock performance in ICL Systems. Evaluate the relationships between livestock and forage characteristics in ICL systems leading to design of integrated systems that optimize livestock production while considering environmental impacts. Objective 3. Adoption of ICL Systems. Characterize the social and economic environment for implementing an integrated crop-livestock (ICL) system based on robust focus group and survey research across multiple stakeholder typologies. Objective 4. Economics involved in ICL Systems. Scale-up ICL systems for improving crop production, and potential impacts on greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes, water quantity and quality, and LCA using state-of-the-art models from field to larger scales. Objective 5. Education and Outreach. Share knowledge and provide outreach on environmental sustainability of integrated systems to landowners/producers, high school teachers and students, graduate students, NGOs, government representatives, and other stakeholders. The ARS Lincoln investigators will be specifically involved with Objectives 1, 2, 4, and 5.

The research will use an existing integrated crop livestock bioenergy research site. Biomass, crop production, and livestock grazing response will be quantified. Smooth bromegrass pasture will be grazed by 18 steers in May for 30-days and livestock average daily gain (ADG) and body weight gain (BWG) per acre determined. Steers will then be divided into two groups of 9 steers, with one group grazing Shawnee switchgrass and one group grazing Liberty switchgrass in June, July, and August and ADG and BWG determined. The steers will be re-combined into one group of 18 steers and graze smooth bromegrass during September and ADG and BWG determined. Steers will then graze corn stalks after corn grain harvest and ADG and BWG determined. Steers will be limited fed for 5-days between each grazing event to provide uniform animal weights. Trace gas fluxes will be measured from ICL systems using static chambers to measure fluxes of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from the soil surface to the atmosphere. Economics of the integrated systems will be comparing to a continuous corn system.