Crop/Livestock Integration: Restoring a Traditional Paradigm in Contemporary Agricultural Research, Outreach and Practice

Final Report for LS01-123

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2001: $21,121.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $84,000.00
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Gary Hill
University of Georgia, Animal & Dairy Science Dept
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Project Information

Abstract:

Ecological principals predict that community stability and resiliency are enhanced by agricultural diversity. Stability and resiliency of agricultural landscapes were impaired by enterprise
concentration and size during the last three decades, spatially and temporally separating producers and consumers, diminishing cycles which lend stability to natural systems. In a workshop, crop/livestock production strategies with potential to enhance regional sustainability were addressed. Later, a Sod Based Cropping Systems Conference focused on challenges involving integration of perennial sod and cattle into traditional cropping systems. Conferences involved producers, and research and extension professionals from three states with goals of designing collaborative research proposal(s).

Introduction:

Legislation establishing and funding SARE begins its definition of sustainable agriculture as “... an integrated system of plant and animal production practices ...” Inherent to this definition and the perspective from which it originates is a conviction that integration of livestock and crop production is potentially beneficial. The definition and potential benefits of crop/livestock integration were described by Hardesty and Tiedeman (1996), stating that in North America, and other locations, we have uncoupled plant and animal production, eliminating the contributions that each can make to the other. Obvious compatibility and interdependence of producer and consumer organisms in natural ecosystems provides appealing evidence that parallel interdependence might contribute to stability or at least reduced oscillations in agro-ecosystems. Potential benefits could include: (1) a “rotation effect” yield advantage when crops are produced on land planted previously with contrasting crop plants, or ideally perennial pastures; (2) nitrogen fixation resulting from previous legume crop or forage plants; (3) complementary utilization of crop residues for livestock feed; (4) increased rates of nutrient cycling or soil organic matter development resulting from grazing and animal traffic.

In contrast to the celebrated potential advantages of integration, American agriculture, in practice, becomes increasingly specialized. The number of farms producing any livestock decreases annually and remaining production becomes more and more concentrated. One consequence of animal concentration is concentration of manure nutrients. At best, these nutrients are inefficiently utilized; at worst a contamination hazzard results. Altering production practices and diversification of production practices can reduce chemical and energy inputs and help achieve long-term sustainability (Edwards, et al., 1990). But, for farmers to adopt new practices, they must be environmentally sound, including soil, water, and wildlife, and economically and socially acceptable. Thus, practices should focus on preserving and utilizing a farm’s natural resources, and optimizing long-term productivity and profitability.

Integrated agricultural systems development in the southeast has been limited by research that focuses on single practices and not on diversification. As farm holdings have increased in size, necessarily encompassing increasingly diverse landscapes, the number of enterprises has decreased, often restricting animal and crop producers to a single commodity (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1994). Greater aggregation and specialization has resulted in an ever increasing uncoupling of biological processes which help stabilize natural ecosystems. Gates (2003) stated that sod-based cropping systems represent an opportunity to reconnect producer-consumer linkages in closer proximity, and capitalize on the benefits of natural cycles. Potential benefits include more efficient utilization of resources, exploitation of natural pest control phenomena, reduced nutrient concentration and subsequent environmental risk, and improved soil structure and productivity.

Reversing this trend will require compelling evidence that the integration of crop and livestock production is beneficial. Unfortunately, the institutional mechanisms which might provide such evidence are as compartmentalized as the agricultural sector they are intended to serve. Plant and animal scientists are separated by a number of barriers. Most often they are housed in separate units or departments and supported by separate budgets. Research plans are approved by distinct administrators and research publications are reviewed by different peers. Research providing clear examination of the impact of livestock on crop production or the interaction of crop production and animal feed supply in North America is absent or rare.
Of 113 unique citations returned from a computerized search of several agricultural databases for recent references using combinations of the keywords: sustainab(le, ility), livestock or cattle and crop, an overwhelming number dealt with subsistence farming in the developing countries of Africa and Asia. Only nine reports involved North American research; two of these originated in the Southeast. Swisher and Clare (1995) evaluated the sustainability of cattle production on ranches in Florida. Rao and Phillips (1999) reported Oklahoma research where grazing of intercropped lespedeza and no-till wheat were evaluated. Even recent reports from France (Falmmant et al., 1999) and Africa (Pulina et al., 1999) deal primarily with the impact of livestock production on landscape sustainability, minimizing the involvement of crop production practices and their interaction with livestock production.

Conventional monoculture systems have low biological stability because crop biomass and resulting habitat is removed annually (Odum 1969). Conservation tillage and cover crops reduce habitat disruption, promote species interactions early in the growing season, and promote above- and below-ground biological diversity (Hendrix, 1999). Cover crops also provide a food sourceto beneficial insects through nectar (Olson et al., 2000) which helps to sustain their ability to control pests over time.

Legume cover crops fix substantial amounts of N which can reduce fertilizer N inputs to succeeding crops (Frye et al., 1988; Hargrove, 1986; Kamprath et al., 1968; Touchton et al., 1984). Cover crop mixtures alter the chemical composition, decomposition and N mineralization rates and can improve nutrient management (Rannells and Wagger, 1996). A legume-nonlegume mixture can produce greater benefits resulting from fixed N, slower N release, and more diverse habitats for beneficial insects, which together reduce inputs and environmental risks. Nguyen and Haynes (1995) demonstrated improvement in energy and labor efficiency of New Zealand cropping patterns that depend on crops rotated with grass-legume pastures. Since fertilizer inputs in their systems were low compared with intensive agricultural practices in North America, their energy efficiency ratios were higher than those normally observed in American systems.

Organic matter from cover crops helps increase aggregate stability because microorganisms produce stabilizing compounds as byproducts of decomposition (Kladivko, 1994) which help to improve soil structure and productivity. However, breakdown of these stabilizing compounds by microbes results in a subsequent decline in aggregate stability. Long-term aggregate stability depends therefore on sustained inputs of organic matter. Increasing residue inputs through use of cover crops increases aggregate stability and the effect is greater when residues are allowed to remain on the surface where they decompose more slowly (Kladivko, 1994). Maintaining aggregation at the soil surface sustains infiltration, aeration, and resistance to crusting and erosion.

Management practices that include application of pesticides and frequent cultivation affect soil organisms by altering physical properties (e.g., temperature, pH, aeration, and water availability), microhabitat, distribution of crop residues, access to nutrients, or by direct harm (Crossley et al., 1992). Changes in soil properties may alter the distribution and diversity of soil fauna. Organisms adapted to high levels of disturbance become increasingly dominant within tilled systems, thereby reducing richness and diversity of soil fauna (Paoletti et al., 1993). Compared with fields where annual crops are grown, diversity of soil fauna is increased with management practices such as crop rotation, polycultures, crop mixtures, trap crops, and intercropping. Because cropping system management directly influences soil organism species richness and diversity, these characteristics can be used as vital indicators of soil quality.

Reduced tillage and increased cropping intensity positively influence soil physical, chemical, and biological characteristics primarily through effects on soil organic matter (Bruce et al., 1995; Franzluebbers et al., 1999). Soil organic matter supports the abundant diversity of organisms important in decomposition and nutrient cycling, serves as a source of plant nutrients through release of organic N, S, and P, and supplies inorganic nutrients through its cationic exchange capacity and chelation reactions. Soil organic matter influences soil tilth, infiltration of air and water, water retention, and the efficacy and fate of applied pesticides. In comparison to several rotations of varying intensity, continuous grass provided equivalent or superior improvements in biological activity and nutrient recycling (Weil et al., 1993).

Addition of grazing animals to a cropped system enhances residue decomposition and inputs of organic matter to the soil surface. Timing and length of grazing may significantly affect soil physical properties due to compaction and mixing of feces and residues into the soil. Benefits of livestock manure in crop production include improved soil physical properties and supplying N, P, K and other minerals. Application of livestock manure increases soil organic matter content, which improves infiltration and water holding capacity, as well as an increase in cation exchange capacity. Manure and urine raise the Ph level and accelerate organic matter decomposition. (Brouwer and Powell, 1995, 1998).

Two studies, examining effects of grazing on subsequent winter wheat production, reported increased soil compaction resulting from cattle traffic (Krenzer et al., 1989, Worrell et al., 1992). Such compaction may have contributed to lower grain yields, but very little research has examined the effect of grazing one crop on production from subsequent crops. Cotton yield was depressed by cattle grazing of a wheat cover crop in 2 of 3 years preceding strip-tillage on silt loam soils in Alabama (Mullins and Burmester, 1997) while in contrast, a positive response of cotton yield to cattle grazing of winter cover crops has been observed during research in progress on the Texas High Plains (V.G. Allen, pers. comm.). In Virginia, spring grazing of a rye cover crop increased soil compaction and resulted in greater weed infestation in a subsequent no-till corn crop because of excessive cover removal. However, no clear disadvantage to corn silage yield was demonstrated (Morris et al., 1998). Nebraska researchers developed quantifiable relationships between intensity and duration of corn stalk grazing which could be used to ensure leaving acceptable minimum levels of residue for subsequent cropping (Shelton, et al., 1997). An Iowa study examined the impact of grazing corn residues on subsequent soybean yields in corn-soybean rotations. Grazing increased soil bulk density and surface roughness, depending on timing of grazing, but did not reduce subsequent soybean yields (Russell, et al., 1999).

Sod-based rotations have historically been useful to improve crop yields. In the humid
southeastern USA, disease incidence reduces the usefulness of forage legumes for this purpose.
Establishment from seed makes bahiagrass more attractive than many vegetatively propagated
grasses for use in rotations (Gates, 2003). Bahiagrass sod provided benefits to peanut (Arachis hypogea L.) production, and did not depress maize (Zea mays L.) yield in south Georgia (White et al., 1962). Subsequently, it was demonstrated that peanut yields benefitted when preceded by bahiagrass for up to 5 yr (Norden et al., 1977). Yields increased for each year longer the sod remained, but the greatest improvement occurred after the first year. Reduction in lance nematode [Hoplolaimus galeatus (Cobb, 1913) Thorne, 1935] was associated with bahiagrass. Root-knot nematode [Meloidogyne arenaria (Neal) Chitwood race 1], one of the most damaging pests of peanut, was controlled as effectively by rotation with bahiagrass as a nematicide in Alabama greenhouse studies (Rodriguez-Kabana et al., 1988). Compared with continuous peanut, bahiagrass reduced soil densities of root-knot juveniles near harvest by 96 to98%, and increased peanut yield 27%. Effectiveness of cultivars Pensacola, Argentine, and Tifton 9 was equivalent. A Florida study confirmed the yield benefit of bahiagrass preceding peanut, but nematode reduction was not clearly demonstrated (Dickson, and Hewlett, 1989).

Yield enhancement of peanut following bahiagrass in rotation has recently been attributed
to disease control in addition to nematode suppression. Evidence that bahiagrass reduced theincidence of pathogenic fungi on shells of peanuts was apparent in a rotation study also involving
cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), corn, and rye (Secale cereale L.) as a winter cover (Baird et al.,
1995). Stem rot (Sclerotium rolfsii Sacc.), and limb rot (Rhizoctonia solani Kuhn) incidence on
peanut were both reduced in rotations following bahiagrass compared to continuous peanut
(Johnson et al., 1999). Yields following 2 yr of bahiagrass were increased about 30%. Similar
potential benefits from bahiagrass rotation have been demonstrated with a reduction in root disease incidence from Rhizotonia solani or Pythium spp. in a double crop of snap beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), and cucumbers (Cucumis sativus L.; Sumner et al., 1999). Two yr of bahiagrass were required to provide any disease control, and disease severity was only reduced the first year following bahiagrass. Nematode (Meloidoyne spp.) reduction was noted in bahiagrass sod newly planted with peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trees (Evert et al., 1992). Presence of the sod, however, interfered with tree survival, presumably due to competition.
Bahiagrass rotation was also found to be an effective means for controlling root-knot, and
cyst (Heterodera glycines Ichinohe) nematodes in soybeans (Rodriguez-Kabana et al., 1989a;
1989b). Yield advantage of soybean in rotation averaged 114% of continuous soybeans. Nematode populations increased, and yield benefits due to bahiagrass diminished in the second, and third seasons.

Re-establishment of integrated crop and livestock production systems represents a potentially sustainable form of agriculture, both ecologically and economically (Krall and Schuman, 1996). Ruminant livestock can efficiently convert cellulosic feedstuffs derived from non-arable land and from residues and by-products of crop production into high value meat and milk products, without competing with human food production (Oltjen and Beckett, 1996).

Literature Cited

Baird, R.E., T.B. Brenneman, D.K. Bell, D.R. Sumner, N.A. Minton, B.G. Mullinix, and A.B.
Perry. 1995. Influence of crop rotation, and flutolanil on the diversity of fungi on peanut
shells. Phytoprotection 76:101-113.

Brouwer, J. and J. M. Powell. 1998. Micro-topography, water balance, millet yield, and nutrient leaching in a manuring experiment on sandy soil in southwest Niger. P. 349-360. In: Renard, G., A. Neef, K. Becker, M. von Oppen (ed.). Soil fertility management in West African land use systems. Workshop Proc. Niamy, Niger, 4-8 Mar. 1997. Margraf, Weikersheim.

Brouwer, J. and J. M. Powell. 1995. Soil aspects of nutrient recycling in a manure experiment in Niger. Pp. 22-26. In: Powell, J. M., S. Fernandez_Rivera, T. O. Williams, C. Renard (Ed). Livestock and sustainable nutrient recycling in mixed farming systems of sub-Saharan Africa. Vol. II: Technical papers. Int. Conf. Proc. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 22-26, Nov., 1993. ILCA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Bruce, R. R., G. W. Langdale, L. T. West, and W. P. Miller. 1995. Surface soil degradation and soil productivity restoration and maintenance. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 59:654-660.

Edwards, C. A., R. Lal, P. Madden, R. H. Miller and G. House. 1990. Sustainable agricultural systems. Soil and Water Conservation Society, Ankeny, IA

Evert, D.R., P.F. Bertrand, B.G. Mullinix, Jr. 1962. Nematode population, and peach tree survival, growth, and nutrition at an old orchard site. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 117:6-13.

Flamant, J.C., C. Beranger and Annick Gibon. 1999. Animal production and land use sustainability. An approach from the farm diversity at territory level. Livestock Prod. Sci. 61:275-286.

Franzluebbers, A.J., G.W. Langdale, and H.H. Schomberg. 1999. Soil carbon, nitrogen, and aggregation in response to type and frequency of tillage. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 63:349-355.

Frye, W.W., J.J. Varco, R.L. Blevins, M.S. Smith, and S.J. Corak. 1988. Role of annual legume cover crops in efficient use of water and nitrogen. p.129-154. In W.L. Hargrove (ed.) Cropping strategies for efficient use of water and nitrogen. ASA Spec. Pub. 51. Am. Soc. Agron. Madison, WI.

Gates, R. N. (2003). Integration of perennial forages and grazing in sod based crop rotations. Proc. Sod Based Cropping Sys. Conf., NFREC, Univ. of Florida, Quincy. Pp. 7-14.

Hardesty, L. H. and J. A. Tiedeman. 1996. Integrating crop and livestock production in Inland Northwest farming systems. Amer. J. Altern. Agric. 11:121-126.

Hargrove, W.L. 1986. Winter legumes as a nitrogen source for no-till grain sorghum. Agron. J. 78: 70-74.

Hendrix, P.F. 1999. Soil biology under conservation tillage. p6. IN J.E. Hook (ed.) Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture, Tifton, GA 6-8 July 1999. Ga. Ag. Exp. Sta. Sp. Pub. 95, Athens, GA

Johnson, A.W., N.A. Minton, T.B. Brenneman, G.W. Burton, A.K, Culbreath, G.J. Gascho, and
S.H. Baker. 1999. Bahiagrass, corn, cotton rotations, and pesticides for managing nematodes, diseases, and insects on peanut. J. Nematol. 31:191-200.

Kamprath, E.J., W.V. Chandler, and B.A. Krantz. 1968. Winter cover crops: Their effects on corn yields and soil properties. North Carolina Agric. Exp. Sta. Tech. Bull. 129.

Kladivko, E. J. 1994. Residue effects on soil physical properties. pp. 123-142. In P. W Unger (ed). Managing agricultural residues. Lewis Publishers. Boca Raton, FL.

Krall, J.M. and G.E. Schuman. 1996. Integrated dryland crop and livestock production systems on the Great Plains: Extent and outlook. J. Prod. Agric. 9:187-191.

Krenzer, E.G., Jr., Chaw Foh Chee, and J.F. Stone 1989. Effects of animal traffic on soil compaction in wheat pastures. J.Prod. Agric. 2:246-249.Morris, J.L., V.G. allen, D.H. Vaughan, J.M. Luna, and M.A. Cochran. 1998. Establishment of corn in rotation with alfalfa and rye: influence of grazing, tillage, and herbicides. Agron. J. 90:837-844.

Mullins, G.L., and C.H. Burmester. 1997. Starter fertilizer and the method and rate of potassium fertilizer effects on cotton grown on soils with and without winter grazing by cattle. Commun. Soil Sci. Plant Anal. 28:739-746.

Nguyen, M. L. and R. J. Haynes. 1995. Energy and labor efficiency for three pairs of conventional and alternative mixed cropping (pasture arable) farms in Canterbury, New Zealand. Agric. Ecosystems & Environ. 52:163-172.

Norden, A.J., V.G. Perry, F.G. Martin, and J. NeSmith. 1977. Effect of age of bahiagrass sod on
succeeding peanut crops. Peanut Sci. 4:71-74.

Odum, E. P. 1969. Principles and Concepts Pertaining to Organization at the Species Population Level. In: Fundamentals of Ecology p. 186. W. B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia.

Olson, D. M., H. Fadamiro, J. G. Lungren and G. E. Heimpel. 2000. Effects of sugar feeding on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in a parasitoid wasp. Physiol. Entomol. 25: 17-26.

Oltjen, J.W. and J.L. Beckett. 1996. Role of ruminant livestock in sustainable agricultural systems. J. Anim. Sci. 74:1406-1409.

Paoletti, M. G., D. Pimentel, B. R. Stinner, and D. Stinner. 1993. Agroecosystem biodiversity: matching production and conservation biology. pp. 3-23. In M.G. Paoletti and D. Pimentel (eds.) Biotic diversity in agroecosystems. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Pulina, G., E. Salimei, G. Masala, and J.L.N. Sikosana. 1999. A spreadsheet model for the assessment of sustainable stocking rate in semi-arid and sub-humid regions of Southern Africa. Livestock Prod. Sci. 61:287-299.

Rao, S. C. Phillips, WA. 1999. Forage production and nutritive value of three lespedeza cultivars intercropped into continuous no-till winter wheat. J. Prod. Agric. 12:235-238 cover. J. Soil Water Conserv. 52:203-206.

Rannells, N. N. and M. G. Wagger. 1996. Nitrogen release from grass and legume cover crop monocultures and bicultures. Agron. J. 88:777-782.

Rodriguez-Kabana, R., C.F. Weaver, D.G. Robertson, and H. Ivey. 1988. Bahiagrass for the
management of Meloidogyne arenaria in peanut. Annals. Appl. Nematol. 2:110-114.

Russell, J.R., J.T. Clark, D.L. Karlen, W.D. Busby, L.J. Secor, B. Peterson, C.R. Olsen, and S.C.
Shouse. 1999. Corn crop residue grazing effects on soil physical properties and soybean
production in corn-soybean crop rotation. J. Anim. Sci., Suppl. 1. 79:419.
Shelton, D.P., M.A. Schroeder, S.D. Kachman, J.A. Gosey, and P.J. Jasa. 1997. Cattle grazing influences on percentage corn residue cover. J. Soil Water Conserv. 52:203-206.

Sumner, D.R., N.A. Minton, T.B. Brenneman, G.W. Burton, and A.W. Johnson. 1999. Root
diseases, and nematodes in bahiagrass-vegetable rotations. Plant Disease 83:55-59.

Swisher, ME Clare, DK. 1995. Florida's ranches: Sustainable or not? Soil Crop Sci. Soc. Fla. Proc. 54: 94-100.

Swisher, ME Clare, DK. 1995. Florida's ranches: Sustainable or not?. Soil Crop Sci. Soc. Fla. Proc. 54: 94- 100.

Touchton, J.T., D.H. Rickerl, R.H. Walker, and C.E. Snipes. 1984. Winter legumes as a nitrogen source for no-tillage cotton. Soil Tillage Res. 4:391-401.

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Weil, R. R., K. A. Lowell, and H. M. Shade. 1993. Effrects of intensity of agronomic practices on a soil ecosystem. Amer. J. Altern. Agric. 8:5-14.

White, A.W., Jr., G.N. Sparrow, and R.L. Carter. 1962. Peanuts, and corn in sod-based rotations.
Georgia Agric. Res. 4(2):5-6.

Worrell, M.A., D.J. Undersander, and A. Khalilian. 1992. Grazing wheat to different morphological stages for effects on grain yield and soil compaction. J. Prod. Agric. 5:81-85.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Vivian Allen
  • Larry Benyshek
  • Ann Blount
  • Kevin Campbell
  • Roger Gates
  • Seyoum Gelaye
  • Andrew Hammond
  • Jim Marois
  • Sharad C. Phatak
  • Albert E. Smith, Jr.
  • Tom Terrill
  • Theodore Webster
  • Jeff Wilson
  • David Wright

Research

Materials and methods:

A survey of researchers and extension specialists in the SE region with interest in integrated crop/livestock production research was conducted. From the interest shown in that initial survey, a crop and livestock integration workshop was planned by several grant participant research and extension professionals from Auburn University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, and USDA-ARS. Administrators, county extension specialists and farmers were included in the planning process, and as participants in the planning stages and as active workshop participants. The workshop was conducted at the Rural Development Center, Tifton Campus, Univ. of Georgia, on November 29, 2001. A workshop facilitator was employed to lead discussions and inspire constructive debate of issues affecting crop/livestock integration. The workshop included two panel discussions, lasting 30 minutes and 50 minutes, respectively, that addressed issues relative to successful crop/livestock integration. The first panel was composed of researchers and administrators, and the second was composed of county extension persons and growers. A facilitated discussion with much participant interaction and debate was conducted, comments and points were recorded, summarized and displayed during the workshop, and printed copies were returned to workshop participants. With the information gleaned from the panels and facilitated discussion sessions, participants were asked to join relative interest group discussion sessions to address issues and compose possible collaborative research and extension plans involving crop/livestock interaction.

Growing from a separate research initiative, and from reflections and discussions held relative to the original workshop, a conference was planned to report on research and extension efforts in the sustainable agricultural area of integration of cattle into traditional production agricultural enterprises in the Alabama, Florida and Georgia tri-state area. The region has common soil, climate, water resources and rural economies that have evolved around traditional row crops including corn, cotton, peanuts and tobacco. Increased pressure from diminishing farm program support for tobacco and peanuts in recent years, coupled with increased disease and insect problems associated with the departure of many agricultural chemicals, have increased potential interest in sustainable agriculture involving biological controls that boost farm economy. Return of cattle to farms has been one alternative method of reducing input costs and reliance on chemicals, while enhancing peanut, cotton and vegetable yields. Following the initial workshop, plans were made to jointly sponsor a conference focused on bringing together farmers and researchers to discuss issues and challenges associated with integrating perennial sod and cattle into traditional crop production systems. In addition to being funded by USDA/SARE the conference was also supported in part from a Cotton Incorporated grant. The Sod Based Cropping Conference was held at the University of Florida NFREC Conference Center, Quincy, FL, on February 20-21, 2003. It included selected speakers from several states outside of the region, and some speakers from other countries reporting on various aspects of integrated cropping systems. Speakers addressed many relative issues, including cattle performance, soil management, economics, and pest control. A number of the presentations in the conference were associated with the "Multi-state Project to Sustain Peanut and Cotton Yields by Incorporating Cattle in a Sod Based Rotation", a project funded through Auburn University as a Special Research Grant from USDA. The project involves research plots located in Headland, AL, Quincy and Marianna, FL, and Tifton, GA in the farm systems level effort with more than 20 scientists cooperating from the three states. The conference included presentations and discussion by two farmer panels, several guest speakers.

Program
Sod Based Cropping Systems Conference
North Florida Research and Education Center,
University of Florida, IFAS,

Thursday AM (Feb. 20,2003)

8:00-8:45 Registration (Complimentary Continental Breakfast)

8:45-9:00 Introductions, Welcome, Details of conference.

Overview
9:00-9:45 Characteristics And Impacts Of Annual Vs Perennial Root Systems. Jerry Glover, The Land Institute

9:45-10:30 Integration Of Perennial Forages And Grazing In Sod Based Crop Rotations. Roger Gates, USDA-ARS, South Dakota State Univ

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-11:30 Rotating crops and grazed pastures in Uruguay: Effects of tillage and soil use intensities on soil properties and productivity.Fernando García-Préchac, Univ. de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay
.
11:30-12:15 How Sod-Based Rotations Fit Into The Conservation Provisions Of The New Farm Bill. Ben Moore, USDA-NRCS.

12:15-1:00 Complementary Lunch

Thursday PM (Feb. 20,2003)

1:00-1:15 Initiation Of The Tri-State Sod Based Rotation: An Overview. Dallas L. Hartzog, and Cris Balkcom, Auburn Univ.

1:15-2:15 Farming Applications Of Sod Based Rotations. Farmer Panel: Chappy Trawick – Alabama, Larry Ford – Florida, Louie Perry – Georgia

Bahiagrass Rotations

2:15- 2:30 The Bahiagrass and Paspalum Breeding Program. Ann Blount Univ. of Florida.

2:30-2:45 Perennial grasses, soil organic matter, and crop yield.
David Wright and James J. Marois. Univ. of Florida

2:45-3:00 Impact of Bahiagrass, Cotton, and Corn Cropping Frequency on the Severity of Diseases of Peanut. A. K. Hagan*, H. L. Campbell, J. R. Weeks, M. E. Rivas-Davila, and B. Gamble

3:00-3:15 Comparison of bahiagrass, corn, and cotton as rotational crops for peanut. Tim Brenneman, Patricia Timper, Univ. of GA and USDA/ARS, N. A. Minton and A. W. Johnson

3:15-3:30 Yield Response Of Staked Tomato To Applied Nitrogen Rates On A Plowed Down Bahia-Grass Sod. C.S. Gardner, Florida A&M Univ. O.S. Mbuya, F.M. Rhoads, G.L. Queeley and M. Edwards.

3:30-3:45 Break

Cattle And Cropping Systems

3:45-4:00 Impact Of Cattle And Forage Management On Soil Surface Properties in the Southern Piedmont USA. Alan J. Franzluebbers, And John A. Stuedemann USDA-ARS

4:00-4:15 Potential Outcomes Of Integrating Cattle And Cropping Systems In Southeastern Major Land Use Areas. John A. Stuedemann, USDA-ARS, Alan Franzluebbers, Dwight Seman And D. Wayne Reeves.

4:15-4:30 Integrating Winter Annual Grazing In A Cotton-Peanut Rotation: Forage And Tillage Systems Selection. Guillermo Siri-Prieto.Auburn Univ. and USDA-ARS-NSDL D.Wayne Reeves. R. L. Raper. David I. Bransby. Brian E. Gamble. Malcomb D. Pegues.

4:30-4:45 Forage Regrowth And Grazing Performance On Tifton 85 Pastures Following Sod-Seeding With Ryegrass. Gary M. Hill, Univ. of Georgia, R. N. Gates.

4:45-5:00 Soil Health, Economic, and Water Quality Considerations with the Use of Sod Crops in Corn Based Cropping Systems.Tawainga W. Katsvairo, William J. Cox and Harold M. van Es

5:00-5:15 Establishment of Integrated Timber, Forage and Livestock Production Systems in the
Southeast – a Review. Jarek Nowak. University of Florida

5:30 PM Complimentary Hors D’oeuvres

Friday AM (Feb. 21, 2003)

8:15-9:00 Complimentary Continental Breakfast

Pest Management

9:00-9:15 Evaluation Of Major Insect And Disease Pests In Strip-Tilled Peanuts. H.L. Campbell and James R. Weeks, Auburn Univ.

9:15-9:30 Bahiagrass And Other Crops In A Rotational Study To Reduce Nematodes And Other Pests Affecting Peanut Yield And Quality. J.A. Baldwin*, G.B. Padgett, A. W. Johnson, Univ. of Georgia

Economics

9:30-9:45 Economic Considerations Of Sod Based Rotations. Tim D. Hewitt, Univ. of Florida

9:45-10:00 A Working Business Model For Cattle/Peanuts/Cotton. James J. Marois and David Wright. Univ. of Florida

10:00-10:15 Break
Perennial Sod

10:15-10:30 No-Till Management Of Agronomic Row Crops In Perennial Sod. R.N. Gallaher, Univ. of Florida, J.A. Baldwin, W.R. Ocumpaugh, G.M. Prine, W.K. Robertson, And R.L. Stanley

10:30-10:45 Winter Annuals Sown Into Summer Pasture Provide The Opportunity For Year Around Grazing. David J. Lang, Robert Elmore, And Glover B. Triplett, Mississippi State Univ.

10:45-11:00 Sod-based crop rotations in the Southern Piedmont: Summary of Historical Research in Watkinsville. Alan J. Franzluebbers,* USDA-ARS, and Stanley R. Wilkinson.

Wastewater

11:00-11:15 Utilization Of Wastewater Residuals In Sod Based Rotations. Martin B. Adjei, Univ. of Florida

11:15-11:30 Peanuts rotation systems in Ghana. Francis Tsigbey, Univ. of Florida
12:00 Noon Complimentary Lunch
Poster Presentations

(These Papers Will Be Displayed From Thursday AM Until Friday Noon)

Integrated Crop/Cattle Production Systems Present Unique Opportunities For Gastrointestinal Parasite Control And Enhance Cattle Performance. John A. Stuedemann, USDA-ARS, Ray Kaplan, Alan Franzluebbers and Dwight Seman.

Distribution Of Mole Crickets And The Dynamics Of A Pathogenic Nematode, Steinernema Scapterisci As A Biological Control Agent In North Florida. R. K. Sprenkel and A. R. Blount. Univ. of Florida

Strip-Till Tomato Production In Bahiagrass Sod. J.R. Rich, F.M. Rhoads, S.M. Olson, and D.O. Chellemi, University of Florida

Evaluation Of Phosphorus Solubilizing Bacteria Inoculants Used Along With Phosphorite To Increase Growth, Nutrient Uptake And Yield By Cotton. S.Poberejskaya, D. Egamberdiyeva, O. Myachina, P. Teryuhova, L. Seydalieva, A. Aliev, and P. Kim Institute of Microbiology, Uzbek Academy of Sciences, Uzbekistan.

Research results and discussion:

Milestones

Growing directly from this SARE Planning Grant, participants of the Workshop and the Conference are submitting at least two SARE 2004 Pre-proposal Projects in June, 2003. The first is designed to disseminate technology assembled from the conferences and related grants and activities, and is the next step following the Planning Grant. It is entitled, “Integrating Crop/Livestock/Forage Systems for Sustainability in the Southern Region”, University of Georgia lead institution, with PI and cooperators from USDA-ARS, Auburn University, University of Florida, and University of Georgia . The second project involves research and education, and is entitled, “Selection and utilization of Pigeonpea as a Sustainable Forage and Grain crop for the Southern Region”, with University of Georgia as lead institution, with support of Ft. Valley State University, Ft Valley, GA, and USDA-ARS, Brooksville, FL and El Reno, OK (Each Project has multi-state, multi-discipline, multi-agency participation, farmer participation).

Results and Discussion

The following information is provided to further describe activities, events and conduct of the Workshop and Conference described under Materials and Methods. After planning the initial meeting of producers, research and extension professionals and University and USDA-ARS administrators, the Workshop on Integration of Crop and Livestock Production was held at the Rural Development Center, Tifton, GA. In November, 2001, the project planners encouraged participants to attend with new ideas regarding crop integration and sustainability of agriculture in the region. There were 35 registered participants for the one-day conference. A highlight of this conference was inspired discussion under the direction of a workshop facilitator, who encouraged active discussion relative to potential obstacles and successes in conducting integrated crop/livestock research, development of plans to overcome or eliminate these obstacles. Records of comments were displayed to the participants, later summarized and distributed to workshop attendees and administrators. Following the Facilitated Discussion, participants divided into several interest groups, for additional discussion of issues relative to development of research/extension plans involving integrated agriculure. From these discussions, five research project skeleton outlines were developed and discussed. A workshop report was developed and distributed. Plans were initiated to complete a SARE Project Proposal relating to Integrated Crop/Livestock enterprises in the three-state region.

The following information on the Workshop include a Vision Statement and Agenda, a copy of the Facilitated Discussion topics and responses, and Group Projects.

WORKSHOP ON INTEGRATION OF CROP AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION
RDC, Tifton, GA

VISION STATEMENT for Crop / Livestock Integration Workshop

Increased stability and resiliency reduce risk and enhance sustainability of agricultural systems.

Ecological principals predict that in naturally occurring communities (assemblages of organisms) stability and resiliency (capacity to recover from perturbations) are enhanced by diversity (number and “balance” of species) and by the presence of all trophic levels: producer, consumer and detrital organisms.

STABILITY AND RESILIENCY of agricultural landscapes have been impaired by enterprise specialization, concentration and expansion (of scale). These trends have spatially (and temporally??) compartmentalized producer and consumer organisms, interrupting and uncoupling many cycles which lend stability to natural systems.

Goal:
Identify
Quantify
Understand
Incorporate

Agenda

8:30–8:50 Introduction–Charge / Why are we here?

9:00– 9:30 Researcher / Administrator Panel
“Identifying and Overcoming Obstacles to Integrated Research”

9:40– 10:30 County extension / Growers Panel
“Experience on integration and identifying critical needs for research”

10:40-10:55 Break

11:00–12:30 Facilitated Discussion–Identifying groups with common interests

12:30–1:30 Lunch

1:30—4:00 Afternoon break-out sessions by interest group.
Interaction to develop outline(s) and research preproposal(s).

WORKSHOP ON INTEGRATION OF CROP AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTIONFacilitator: Tyron Spearman, The Spearman Marketing Agency, Tifton
Attendance: 35

PURPOSE: Participants were encouraged to speak frankly about obstacles hampering integrated crop and livestock research while identifying customers who would utilize the research information and identifying problems in proceeding with research proposal plans. The second phase of the workshop was to divide into groups and prepare an idea for a research project.

OVERVIEW OF CROP/LIVESTOCK OPERATIONS
The crop/livestock operation is usually the middle to small farming operation, netting $250,000-$500,000 annually. More often, the family farms of America.
As agriculture has become specialized in nature, problem solving by researchers have been targeted to individual crops or selected livestock rather than integrating the two sciences.
Farmers, politicians and administrators of research funding have not demanded team research from the two disciplines, recognizing that crop/livestock research is lengthy and more expensive.Crop/Livestock industries have failed to build coalitions, content with working separately for new research information and funding.
The uniting of crops and livestock has been hampered with pesticide rules and regulations, as Environmental Protection Agency declarations require that certain crop pesticides cannot be grazed or planted for grazing.

OBSTACLES THAT PREVENT RESEARCH FROM FARMER VIEW
Farmers have difficulty in measuring single practices when integrated with crops and livestock.
Farms have increased in size making coordination of the projects difficult.
As farms increased in size, enterprises have declined, reducing options for conducting research.
Farmers have eliminated livestock operations, which have become more confined for management and lack of labor.
Farmers are aware that livestock will impact soils and application of some herbicides and insecticides prevent grazing crops being planted for livestock.
Absentee land ownership requiring leasing of land, often reported as high as 70% in some regions, has required that actual producers plant only crops approved in lease or farm program crops profitable that season.
As farm tractors and equipment become larger to handle larger field operations, fences have been eliminated for ease in turning at row ends. This has eliminated livestock on many farms.
Livestock is labor intensive and lack of farm labor has caused many Southeast farmers to switch to row crops. Also farm programs encouraged row crops.

OBSTACLES THAT HAMPER RESEARCH FROM RESEARCHER VIEW
Researchers are hired for specific research production usually in agronomic or livestock with specialization.
Funding is difficult for integrated industries. Industries seeking answers demand research dollars for individual crops or livestock. This hampers integrated research.
Length of projects for integrated crop/livestock requires more money and time. Animal research is especially expensive and projects require 3-5 years for proper evaluation and publication of results.
Research priorities are difficult to clarify and measure when integrating crops and livestock.
Researchers are concerned about the delivery system of research findings directly to the growers.
Grants for research from government and company sources are mostly directed at basic research when some view crop/livestock integration as applied research.
Lack of labor or research assistants for researchers in this type research is a problem.

IDENTIFYING CUSTOMERS A segment of the program was to discuss the customer, identified as agricultural growers or producers. Researchers felt that in integrated crop/livestock operations, there was a lack of credibility with the grower, an image problem. Industry associations and information to farmers often conflict when combining crops and livestock. Farmers fail to give input to researchers and administration as to exact problems. Agricultural areas lack vision for long range. Farm programs have distorted markets for the farmer causing the farmer to be forced to grow crops for the government and not for the market. Crops are usually impacted more since no federal programs, except some disaster funds, are available for livestock production.

SUCCESSFUL MODELS Mentioned by researchers:
Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus in peanuts B Problem was identified and several disciplines united and successfully slowed the disease infestations by management practices
Minimum tillage in peanuts: Yields have been significantly increased by twin rows -bringing together management practices, program information and engineers to return dividends to farmers.
Group of farmers in Coffee County, Georgia, uniting in crop/livestock operations
Model Farm in Texas considering production systems involving 33 scientists, students and producers. The production systems include conventional irrigated cotton, all forage-beef stocker cattle and alternative integrated crop-livestock.
Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition in Moultrie, Georgia, has combined crops and rotation, but lacks livestock integration.

ECONOMIC IMPACT & FARM POLICY -
Farm Policy developed by the U.S. Congress, House and Senate, has often helped to eliminate crop/livestock integration and this specialization has pushed out the family farm, which attendees felt integrated farms, spread family risk and family survival.
Concern was expressed about the aging American farmer and many farms are driven by cash flow and not by practices and management decisions good for the farm.
Farmers need to be concerned more about market niches and alternatives that offer more opportunity for farm income.
Farm legislation has been directed toward commodities or row crops and less to livestock and animals. Policy makes it more difficult to combine the two agricultural production cycles.
Federal Crop Insurance has often caused farmers to increase acres, paying dividends for heavy losses, causing many enterprises in areas not covered such as livestock to be eliminated.
Federal trade agreements allowing more access to the U.S. market was also expressed as a concern as farms become more specialized to survive.

CONSUMER CONNECTION
Registrants felt a need for more programs to bring producer and consumer closer together.
Consumers should be informed about value of crop/livestock enterprises.
Consumers should be informed about environmentally friendly and safe enterprises, as they are encouraged to support agriculture through research and farm programs.
Regional marketing efforts along with promotion of success stories should be placed before the consumer.
Food safety must be emphasized, as consumers are educated about agricultural research and value of safe food for the society at home and abroad.

ISSUES THAT IMPACT CROP/LIVESTOCK RESEARCH & ENTERPRISES
Farmer Individuality B Each farmer and each farm operation is different. Each farmer reacts to issues differently. This individuality makes comparative research almost impossible.
Water Policy B Each state and region has implemented different water policies, which impact agriculture and consumers. Environmental Regulations and Compliance B More stringent regulations and compliance on livestock and poultry growers has been detrimental to enterprise integration.
Economic Analysis B Cost sharing of enterprises and comparing profits and losses to each enterprise are not clear to farmers or researchers.
Forestry Implementation of conservation programs to remove marginal land from production has often eliminated good land used in crop/livestock integration.

INDUSTRY LOSSES TO LIVESTOCK
Grain production in the Southeast continues to decline as prices decline causing grain to be shipped to the Southeast from the Midwest.
Slaughter facilities for cattle and hogs have slowly relocated closer to the grain belt or feeding operations away from the Southeast.
Water restrictions imposed because of regional droughts have caused livestock restructuring and more surface water storage.

WHO IS INVOLVED IN DESIGNING CROP/LIVESTOCK RESEARCH PROJECT
Farmer Economic Models
Engineering (Water) Animal Behavior and Movement
Agriculture/Crop Production Farm Policy
Parasite Expert

INFRASTRUCTURE CONSIDERATIONS
Fencing Water
Handling Equipment Available Labor
Environmental considerations Pesticide management
Crop residue usage --Feed or Fertilizer
Engineering design to facilitate crops and livestock
Goal of efficiency and saving dollars

WORKSHOP ON INTEGRATION OF CROP AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION

GROUP PROJECTS

PROJECT 1 - Farmer Input Survey on Research involving Crop/Livestock
Goal: To determine farmer’s needs and interpretation of changing farming situation
and farmer’s views of pressing research needs
Who: Graduate Student/ research assistant
Limitation: 10-15 questions
Distribution: Association Newsletters, County Agents, Farmer Meetings, FSA, and agribusinesses
Findings: Distribute to administration, political leaders and opinion leaders, association mgt.
PROJECT 2 - Bio-Security Survey and Potential Threat
Goal: To determine potential problems in agriculture/ animals and crops/ that could impact the food security of the United States.
Who: Research Assistant or Doctoral Thesis
System Analysis: How vulnerable is the U.S. crop and livestock industry to bio-terrorism
Issues: Chemicals B production and application, fertilizers, animal feed and distribution to consumers, waste and product contamination, imported foods and raw materials, rodents, wildlife, birds, visitors to U.S. in agriculture causing contamination.

Project 3 Regional Model Farm of Crop/Livestock for TRI-STATE
Goal: To purchase, have donated or buy a Demonstration Farm
Who: Land Grant Colleges in Georgia, Florida and Alabama
Consortium: A Regional Planning Team of researchers involved in crops and livestock hire a Farm Manager seeking in-kind services, equipment, seed, fertilizer, etc., from companies or organizations.
Model Farm: Location should be in the South West corner of Georgia or Southeast corner of Alabama or North Florida.
Records would determine efficiencies/profit/loss with all inputs evaluated for cost.

Project 4 Reduced Pesticide Inputs in Integrated Crop/Livestock Systems
Group: Ted Webster, Tom Terrill, Jeff Wilson, Roger Gates, Patty Timper, Dawn Olson,Wayne Reeves, John Baldwin, David Wright, Jim Marois, Andrew Hammond, Ann Blount

IDENTIFYING PROBLEMS
Compaction of Soil Cattle Impact
Affects physically Economic impact
Pesticide Restrictions Pests
Allelopathy Pest complexes from integrated systems
Parasite complexes: Annual vs perennial sod systems
Rotation sequence (tillage, management, etc) Resistant varieties
Multi-species grazing in a crop/livestock system Mixed grazing
Alternating species or age of cattle

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES
Grazing and Grain Opportunities (and cover crops & hay)
Fate of Pesticides
Degradation
Movement (leaching, run-off, etc)
Equipment used in an Integrated Operation
Vegetables and Sod Components ($$$)

PROJECT 5 Cover Crop Conservation Tillage SYSTEM
Project Enterprises: Peanut, Cotton, Winter Rye, Wheat, Oats (turn Under) or graze in combination with poultry and fish production
FACTORS IN PROJECTS
Phosphorus based Limits
Initial Survey of P in Soil
Nutrient Cycle or Budget
Nitrogen, phosphorus, metalsCarbon-Organic matter (water retention)
Soil Science physical
Microbial Effects = Pathogens; N fixation; Nematode Effects
Crop benefits/disadvantages
Economics
Different type soils including Sandy Loam and Clay/Sand
Delivery : Fencing, Hauling, Pump and Pipe
Loading P in Water
Soil physics and chemistry; original P
Product Development
Monitoring

SOD BASED CROPPING SYSTEM CONFERENCE
University of Florida, NFREC, Quincy, Florida

A parallel project was being developed by research, extension and producer participants that incorporated many of the concepts discussed in the Workshop. This parallel project, "Multi-state Project to Sustain Peanut and Cotton Yields by Incorporating Cattle in a Sod Based Rotation", a project funded through Auburn University as a Special Research Grant from USDA. Plans were made in the original Workshop at Tifton to develop a conference to discuss recent research and new initiatives built around sod-based rotations of traditional crops. The Sod Based Cropping System Conference was held at the University of Florida, NFREC, Quincy, Florida in February, 2003. More than 100 persons attended. Invited speakers outlined current problems and successes of sod-based rotations, potential for expansion of the rotation systems, and economic impact to sustain agriculture in the region. More than 20 volunteered papers and posters were presented, and the conference addressed many aspects, including cattle performance, soil management, economics, pest and pathogen control, and benefits of crop/livestock rotations. A highlight of the Conference was a live interactive satellite invited presentation and discussion with a researcher from Uruguay, describing successes of crop/livestock integration in sod-based systems in his country.

A farmer panel was employed to relate their experiences with the integration of crops with livestock, and utilization of bahiagrass sods in rotation systems with cotton and peanuts. Their large scale field size rotations verified the results obtained in small plot research. The primary response was a significant and economic reduction in soil nematodes for two years following sod, resulting in 25 to 40% increases in peanut yields, and more than 10% increases in cotton yields. Sales of hay and gain performance of cattle on the sod were significant contributors to profitability of the systems. Computer programs were demonstrated that were highly applicable, user friendly and available free on a website, which could be manipulated to give yield and economic data for several crops including sod for cattle production. This program could be custom programed for farm conditions and acreage of cotton, peanuts and sod. Planning sessions for submission of a SARE project were initiated, with plans for a follow-up planning meeting were agreed to by many participants.

Accomplishments/Milestones
Initial Workshop on Crop/livestock integration:
1) Completed workshop with 35 participants in Tifton, GA, 29 November, 2002
2) Completed 5 research project skeleton outlines
3) Completed and distributed workshop report

Sod Based Cropping Conference:
1) Completed sustainable agriculture Conference with more than 100 registrants, national invited speakers, farmer presentation and farmer panel discussion, and more than 20 research/extension presentations.
2) Crop integration from West Africa presentation, and a live interactive satellite invited presentation and discussion with a researcher from Uruguay on crop/livestock integration with cattle and sod.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

1) All Conference Proceedings papers were included on a Compact Disc (CD), entitled, “Sod Based Cropping System”, University of Florida, IFAS-NEFREC, Quincy, FL. All participants and many additional interested parties were provided copies of the CD. The CD is being made available to research, extension persons and farmers upon request.
2) The conference Proceedings and PowerPoint presentations of all speakers were configured and may be viewed at a website: http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/sodrotation. To view and download PDF and PowerPoint files of the written and oral presentations click on the CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS at the top of the website.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

1) Initiated new network contacts
2) Stimulated plan for symposium on perennial sod/livestock - crop rotations to be held in Quincy, FL, Feb 20-21, 2003.
3) Sod Based Cropping Conference, research results were displayed, backed up by farmer testimonials of success of program on farm scale crop/livestock rotations resulting in increased peanut and cotton yields, and improved income from cattle production.

Farmer Adoption

Several farmers were selected and invited to attend the initial Workshop. Four farmers agreed to speak at the Sod Based Cropping Conference, indicating their involvement, successes and problems with adaptation of the integration practices. Two farmers from Florida, one from Alabama, and one from Georgia discussed their programs. All of the farmers use crop/livestock integration.. Two farmers ( Mr. Chappey Trawick, Newville, AL; and Mr. Larry Ford, Greenwood, FL) expressed praise for the crop rotation programs that integrated grazing cattle in three and four-year rotations, resulting in increased farm income from approximately 40 to 50% increases in peanut and cotton yields, from the sale of hay and cattle gains, and reduction of crop production inputs, especially pesticides. (Descriptions of farmers and their operations are included under the Farmer Panel section in the proceedings of the conference on the CD, and on the website: http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/sodrotation.). Extension agents from all three states indicated growing interest among framers across the region in the integration program, with more participation each year. This Planning SARE Grant was not designed to obtain or document widespread adoption of information/methodology by farmers, but to direct attention of professionals and innovative producer participants to needs, application and benefits of demonstrated research results on crop / livestock integration. The next phase studies will deliver this information on a wider scale to farmers.

Recommendations:

Areas needing additional study

1) The need for a concentrated effort to distribute research and extension information already collected, and new research results currently being summarized on the multifaceted subject of crop livestock integration in the Southern Region was agreed upon by all participants in both conferences. The focus of this effort would be demonstration of research to farmers on a wider scale, county faculty, and NRCS professionals. This should be done in training sessions, field tours, website communication, and advertising of the crop / livestock integration information already available, and as an ongoing effort. The Sod Based Cropping Conference and the Workshop were not necessarily designed for general producer and county faculty. Growing from those conferences, the need now arises for delivery to the producers and ground-level implementers of the innovative concepts and practices demonstrated.

2) Efforts to underscore the importance of returning to a diversified farm, including grazing livestock (Cattle) should be emphasized. The relatively large new availability of contract grazers in the Region now makes it possible for increased numbers of traditional row-crop farmers to take advantage of increased crop yields and potential economic returns from cattle when grazing is included in farming systems. Spreading this information, with demonstration research backing it, should increase sustainability and productivity of farms in the region.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.