Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #370102

Research Project: Sustainable Intensification of Integrated Crop-Pasture-Livestock Systems in Northeastern Landscapes

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Integrating ruminant livestock and cropping systems: strategies to balance agricultural productivity and environmental quality for sustainable intensification

item Soder, Kathy
item WILLIAMSON, JESSICA - Pennsylvania State University
item KARSTEN, HEATHER - Pennsylvania State University

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/28/2020
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: No interpretive summary is required for this Abstract Only. JLB.

Technical Abstract: With a growing population demanding greater food production while protecting the environment, emphasis is being placed on sustainable intensification- production practices that increase output while minimizing environmental impact. The integration of ruminant livestock and cropping systems can lead to greater productivity of both enterprises while increasing sustainability of the whole farm system by generating additional feed for livestock, conserving soil and manure nutrients, and reducing nutrient losses relative to specialized and separate crop and livestock systems, with the potential to improve farm profitability. The objective of this presentation is to discuss enhanced ruminant livestock-cropping systems that promote sustainable intensification in temperate regions of the United States. The goal is to balance agricultural productivity and environmental quality by improving soil and nutrient conservation, extending the grazing season, and reducing imported nutrients. Examples will be discussed, including double-cropping systems such as small grain forages planted after corn silage (Zea mays) or sorghum x sudangrass (Sorghum X drummondii), grazing of winter brassicas, and grazing of forages interseeded into growing corn and corn residue after corn has been harvested for grain in fall. Double-cropping systems also provide an outlet for manure application before or shortly after crop planting and in spring, and manure nutrients can be scavenged and utilized to produce forages, reducing potential losses to the environment through run-off, leaching, and volatilization. By extending the forage production and grazing seasons through the utilization of harvested or grazed winter annuals and corn residue, the number of days that conserved and purchased feeds are fed to livestock is reduced, thereby reducing imported nutrients through purchased feeds. Such production practices that integrate livestock and crops are critical to increase production efficiency of a static land base while reducing negative environmental impacts, thereby achieving future food security and environmental sustainability.