Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/5/2008
Publication Date: 8/6/2008
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J. 2008. The science of integrated crop-livestock systems [abstract]. NRC Workshop on 21st Century Systems Agriculture.
Technical Abstract: Agriculture in the USA and other industrialized countries of the world has become increasingly specialized in response to political, regulatory, and economic pressures to meet market demands of an ever-larger food and fiber processing sector. However, there is a growing concern with specialized agricultural systems, because of increasingly negative responses from the environment that are manifested in: (1) water contamination with excessive nutrients, pesticides, and pathogens; (2) sinking groundwater levels due to high demand and competition from a variety of stakeholders, including specialized crop production; (3) rising greenhouse gas concentrations from soils depleted in organic matter; and (4) dysfunctional soils that have become exhausted from excessive tillage, salt accumulation, and pesticide inputs. Alternative agricultural systems that integrate crops and livestock could provide opportunities to vigorously capture ecological interactions to make agricultural ecosystems more efficient at cycling of nutrients, rely more on renewable natural resources, and improve the inherent functioning of soils, while achieving acceptable or improved economic returns for the farmer. This presentation provides a perspective on how integrated crop-livestock systems can be developed to increase the sustainability of agriculture.