Submitted to: Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/20/2005
Publication Date: 11/5/2005
Citation: Tanaka, D.L., Karn, J.F., Liebig, M.A., Kronberg, S.L., Hanson, J.D. 2005. An integrated approach to crop/livestock systems: forage and grain production for swath grazing. Renewable Agriculture and Food System, 20(4):223-231. Interpretive Summary: Agriculture has evolved over the years from simple cultivation to a number of differentiated forms. Specialization has resulted in decoupling of crop and livestock production enterprises resulting in one or two crop enterprises or livestock enterprises alone. Diversity is the key to overcome problems and can help to insure a productive and profitable agriculture for the future. To develop integrated crop/livestock systems requires a multidisciplinary team approach. Objectives of our research were to determine the influences of feeding dry gestating cows on no-till forage and grain production, water-use efficiency, protein production, and forage P production for oat/pea-triticale/sweet clover-drilled corn three-year cropping system. Cropping system treatments were: 1) straw and corn chopped and left in place (IP), 2) straw and corn baled and removed without livestock (R), and 3) straw and corn swath grazed by livestock (L). Research was conducted from 1999 through 2002. In 2000, crop residues from the previous crops reduced plant stand and resulted in oat/pea and triticale grain and straw production on the IP treatment that was about half the production on the R treatment. Over all the years, corn produced about 1.5 times more dry matter per unit of water than oat/pea or triticale. Triticale produced more dry matter than oat/pea, per unit of water, during below-average precipitation years. Protein and P production were the highest for corn and lowest for triticale. About half of the N for protein production was derived from sources other than applied commercial fertilizer.
Technical Abstract: Current agricultural systems are the result of decoupling crop/livestock enterprises for short-term economic gain at the expense of long-term sustainability. Objectives of our research were to determine the influences of winter grazing dry gestating beef cows on no-till forage and grain production, water-use efficiency, and protein and P production for oat/pea-triticale/sweet clover-corn three-year cropping system. Oat/pea and triticale crops were harvested for grain with the straw and chaff left in swaths after harvest for winter grazing. Drilled corn for forage was swathed in late September. Cropping system treatments were: 1) straw and corn chopped and left in place (IP), 2) straw and corn baled and removed without livestock (R), and 3) straw and corn swath grazed by livestock (L). The first winter for grazing dry bred cows was in 1999-2000; therefore, no treatment differences occurred for the 1999 crop. In 2000, oat/pea and triticale grain and straw production for the IP treatment was about half of the production for the R treatment, because of low oat/pea and triticale plant stands on the IP treatment. Averaged over all years, corn was about 1.5 times more efficient in using water for dry matter production when compared to oat/pea or triticale. Generally, protein and P production, on a unit area basis, were highest for corn and lowest for triticale. Averaged over four-years, about half of the nitrogen used for protein production was derived from sources other than applied commercial fertilizer. More than four years of research data are needed to understand the cropping system and animal interactions on forage and grain production in integrated crop/livestock systems.