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Research Project: Strategies to Support Resilient Agricultural Systems of the Southeastern U.S.

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Production and soil responses to intercropping of forage grasses with corn and soybean silage

Author
item Pariz, Cristiano - Sao Paulo State University (UNESP)
item Costa, Ciniro - Sao Paulo State University (UNESP)
item Crusciol, Carlos A.c. - Sao Paulo State University (UNESP)
item Meirelles, Paulo R.l. - Sao Paulo State University (UNESP)
item Castilhos, Andre - Sao Paulo State University (UNESP)
item Andreotti, Marcelo - Sao Paulo State University (UNESP)
item Costa, Nidia - Sao Paulo State University (UNESP)
item Martello, Jorge - Sao Paulo State University (UNESP)
item Souza, Daniel - Sao Paulo State University (UNESP)
item Sarto, Jaqueline R.w. - Sao Paulo State University (UNESP)
item Franzluebbers, Alan

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/14/2016
Publication Date: 9/1/2016
Citation: Pariz, C.M., Costa, C., Crusciol, C., Meirelles, P., Castilhos, A.M., Andreotti, M., Costa, N.R., Martello, J.M., Souza, D.M., Sarto, J., Franzluebbers, A.J. 2016. Production and soil responses to intercropping of forage grasses with corn and soybean silage. Agronomy Journal. 108:2541-2553.

Interpretive Summary: Approaches to diversify agricultural systems are needed to build resilience to weather stresses and market vagaries. Intercropping forage grasses with corn production systems may be a valuable approach to achieve sustainability. A scientist at USDA-ARS in Raleigh, North Carolina collaborated with scientists at Sao Paulo State University to study the impacts of silage cutting height and species of cover crop intercropped with corn silage on system productivity and efficiency of utilization of embedded resources. When silage was cut higher, corn intercropped with palisade grass had greater leaf nutrient concentrations, agronomic characteristics, forage mass of pasture for grazing by lambs, greater surface mulch produced, and greater quantity of N, P, and K returned to soil. Greater soil organic matter, P, K, and Mg concentration, and base saturation in the surface soil depth and lower soil penetration resistance at all depths occurred at greater corn silage cutting height intercropped with palisade grass. These results suggest that cropping system diversification and integration with livestock grazing can enhance resource use efficiency and provide valid approaches to enhance sustainability, particularly in this tropical region of Brazil. Approaches can be modified and tested in US agricultural systems as well.

Technical Abstract: Agricultural management systems are needed to simultaneously enhance production, and improve soil quality. We investigated the effects of intercropped grass on production of corn (Zea mays L.) harvested for silage at 0.20 and 0.45 m height in the summer, as well as on production of subsequent forage, silage soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.], and soil responses on a Typic Haplorthox in Botucatu, SP, Brazil. Palisade grass [Urochloa brizantha (Hochst. ex A. Rich.) R. Webster ‘Marandu’] was the introduced companion crop with corn (Years 1 and 2), while signal grass [Urochloa decumbens (Stapf) R. Webster ‘Basilisk’] was the residual weedy species in comparison. Guinea grass [Urochloa maxima (Jacq.) R. Webster ‘Aruãna’] was the introduced companion crop with soybean (Year 3), with only a residual eff ect of crop systems from the previous 2 yr. When cut at 0.45 m compared with 0.20 m height, corn intercropped with palisade grass had greater leaf nutrient concentrations, agronomic characteristics, forage mass of pasture for grazing by lambs (Ovis aries), greater surface mulch produced, and greater quantity of N, P, and K returned to soil. Greater soil organic matter, P, K, and Mg concentration, and base saturation in the surface soil depth and lower soil penetration resistance at all depths occurred at 0.45 m than at 0.20 m corn silage cutting height intercropped with palisade grass. Analyzing the system as a whole, harvesting corn silage crop with palisade grass intercrop at 0.45 m height was the most viable option in this integrated crop–livestock system (ICLS).