|Triplett, Jr., G|
Submitted to: Southern Conservation Tillage Systems Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/26/2006
Publication Date: 6/26/2006
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J., Triplett, Jr., G.B. 2006. Integrated crop-livestock systems to conserve soil and water resources in the southeastern USA. In: Proceedings of the 28th Annual Southern Conservation Systems Conference. Amarillo, Texas, June 26-28, 2006. CD-ROM. pp. 2-12. Interpretive Summary: The southeastern USA has many contrasting environmental and social characteristics that have often limited the attainment of balanced agricultural production with natural resource conservation. There is a need to explore alternative production systems that might optimize production, profit, and environmental quality issues. Scientists at the USDA – Agricultural Research Service in Watkinsville Georgia and Mississippi State University outlined some realistic possibilities for producers in the southeastern USA to develop integrated crop – livestock production systems to conserve soil and water resources, while increasing potential profitability. Rotation of crops with pasture could have benefits to both crop and livestock production systems. Growing crops in rotation with cover crops using conservation tillage would improve soil and environmental quality and increase income diversity and avoid risk, if cover crops could be grazed by cattle or other livestock. The concepts presented in this paper will assist scientists, extension specialists, and farmers to design and implement more robust agricultural systems to maintain high production, improve profit, spread investments costs across multiple operations, increase water and nutrient use efficiency, and improve environmental quality on the 100 million acres of farmland in the southeastern USA.
Technical Abstract: Agricultural production and natural resource conservation need to be balanced to meet the needs of society. To achieve goals of high agricultural production while protecting the environment, modifications to current production systems are needed. Melding new and existing technologies to achieve these two societal goals is possible. Crop rotations with pastures could enhance nutrient cycling, suppress diseases, and help control pests. Ruminant livestock could consume lignocellulosic crop byproducts to add value to farming operations. Animal manures could become more effectively utilized as nutrient sources in farming systems to reduce the cost of fertilizer inputs. Covering the soil with surface residues using conservation tillage and perennial pastures could greatly improve water quality and stop the insidious spoil of soil erosion. By integrating crop and livestock production systems, more farmers will be able to farm the land because of (i) greater stability of income from diverse sources of operations and (ii) greater environmental protection of soil and water resources that will develop from the closer water, nutrient, and energy cycles shared by crop and livestock operations.