Ecological Livestock Production: Integration of nutrient cycling, pasture management, winter feeding, and watering systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $79,064.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Kentucky
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Greg Halich
University of Kentucky


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: grazing management, pasture fertility
  • Education and Training: extension, networking, NRCS and Extension will be working together to conduct regional meetings, that will then lead to localized meetings about ecological livestock production
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, partnerships

    Proposal abstract:

    The broad goal of the program is to help Cooperative Extension and NRCS practitioners work with conventional cattle farmers that haven’t yet embraced basic operational practices that can improve soil health and reduce environmental impacts.  The specific goals of the program include:

    1) Identify current operational practices on farms in their localities that if changed, have the most potential to reduce environmental impacts and improve profitability.

    2) Identifying the most effective ways to implement changes.

    3) Facilitate improved linkages between agricultural extension agents and NRCS field personnel.

    The proposed program would be delivered by a combination of University of Kentucky extension, NRCS specialists, and University of Tennessee extension.

    Regional day-long meetings (2-3 per state) bring together county extension agents and NRCS conservationists. Basic and intermediate programming would cover soil health, water quality, and sustainability (including profitability).

    Local area meetings (3-5 county areas) organized by extension agents and NRCS field personnel would identify those operation practices with the most potential in their locality. Participants would start the process at this meeting of developing a local action plan for their locality and would also start the process of identifying a demonstration farm in each local area that had the most potential for showcasing improvements identified in the local action plan. NRCS and extension would work as an integrated team in implementing the local action plan on this demonstration farm as well as other farms. Adoption of practices at the farm-level would be the ultimate evaluation criteria of the success of this program.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The main objectives of the project include: 

    1) Increased knowledge about how livestock production impacts the environment.

    2) Increased knowledge of connection on soil health, water quality impacts, and nutrient recycling.

    3) Increased knowledge of how production practices affect farm profitability.

    4) Identify key current operational practices at the farm-level in their geographic area that if changes, have the most potential to reduce environmental impacts and improve profitability.

    5) Increase capacity and confidence to help farmer’s correct identified problems.

    6) Facilitate improved cooperation and networking between agricultural extension agents and NRCS field personnel.

    7) Creation of demonstration farms in each local area to serve as a model for improved soil health and water quality.

    8) State-level specialists will gain knowledge about soil health in livestock operations.

    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.