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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Southeast Watershed Research » Research » Research Project #438567

Research Project: Evaluating Conservation Practice Effects in an Integrated Crop-Livestock Production System

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

Project Number: 6048-11130-005-01-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2020
End Date: Jul 31, 2024

Objective:
Develop a field/farm management plan to enhance the provision of multiple ecosystem services within a small watershed that encompasses an integrated crop-livestock production system. Design objectives will include an optimized plan for use of poultry litter from 4 antibiotic-free production houses, to include application on approximately 40 acres of pasture and 60 acres of irrigated cropland supporting an approximately 30-heifer cow-calf operation. The watershed contains three irrigation/cattle watering ponds whose overflows drain into a first-order stream prior to exiting the property. Cropping systems will incorporate winter bioenergy feedstocks and cattle forages in rotation with summer cotton and peanut cash crops typical of the region with specific placement of annual and perennial species to optimize soil and water quality while meeting 5-year average profit margins acceptable to the producer.

Approach:
The cooperator will work with ARS scientists to: 1) identify desired two-, five-, and ten-year profit, family health and well-being, community, and environmental quality outcomes derived from landscapes owned or rented by his business enterprise; 2) identify acceptable commodities and risk level to bound management planning; 3) identify crop-practice-landscape location combinations acceptable for phased implementation of a whole farm management plan; 4) implement and evaluate performance of alternative crops and rotation-management scenarios on small (< 10 acre) parcels of land; and 5) install measurement systems to track enterprise impacts on water quality.