Submitted to: Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/8/2004
Publication Date: 6/8/2004
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J., Stuedemann, J.A. Crop and animal production in yearly rotations under inversion and no tillage. Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture. 2004. p. 231-238. CD ROM. Raleigh NC.
Interpretive Summary: Successful integration of crop and livestock production in the southeastern USA could reduce threats of agriculture to the environment, increase agricultural production efficiency, lower risk, and potentially generate greater profit. Scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Watkinsville Georgia designed a field experiment to test the effects of tillage, cropping system, and grazing cattle on grain yield and overall system productivity. During the first few seasons of this long-term experiment, grain yields have been similar between conventional and no tillage. However, cover crop production of forage has been greater without tillage than with conventional tillage. A trend for greater animal production without forage has been emerging. Results are yet incomplete, but these initial results suggest that crop and livestock producers in the southeastern USA could (1) use no tillage crop production following pasture renovation to preserve soil organic matter and (2) effectively integrate cattle grazing cover crops without reducing subsequent grain crops.
Technical Abstract: Integration of crops and livestock could provide benefits to both production systems, as well as provide economic opportunities and environmental protection. With soil organic matter at a high level following termination of perennial pasture, we determined crop yield and animal production during the first three growing seasons of two cropping systems (sorghum/rye and wheat/millet) managed under conventional tillage (CT) or no tillage (NT) and whether cover crop was grazed by cattle or not. Wheat grain yield in 2003 (39 bu/acre) and sorghum grain yield in 2003 (63 bu/acre) were unaffected by tillage regime and whether previous cover crop was grazed by cattle or not. Ungrazed cover crop biomass production was greater under NT than CT for millet in 2002 (12%), for rye in 2003 (23%), and for millet in 2003 (82%). Cattle live-weight gain was not statistically different between tillage systems, but average daily gains were 0.5 plus or minus 0.2 lb/day greater under NT than under CT during the first three growing seasons. These initial results suggest that (1) NT is preserving the benefits of long-term accumulation of organic matter following perennial pasture and (2) no negative effect of cattle grazing cover crops is being carried over to subsequent grain crops.