On-Farm Adaptation of Integrated Crop and Livestock Systems in Illinois
Agriculture in central Illinois has evolved in the last 30 years to farm production systems consisting primarily of a two-crop system of corn and soybeans. However, greater sustainability may be realized from more diversified crop and livestock systems.
The overall objective of this project was to increase knowledge about integrated crop and livestock production systems in central Illinois and the major corn- and soybean-producing region of the North Central region. Specific objectives included:
1) conducting replicated experiments examining alternative agricultural production systems, including various combinations of grains, hay, grazed forages and beef cattle;
2) adapting part of the production systems on a full-scale basis with 20 or more acres devoted to each systems;
3) monitoring analyzing and documenting environmental and economic consequences of the various production systems; and
4) sponsoring on-farm educational field days.
The three crop rotation systems included: 1) a two-year corn and soybean rotation; 2) a two-year corn and annual alfalfa rotation; and 3) a two-year corn followed by wheat and double-crop soybean rotation. The livestock system included four years of perennial alfalfa and smooth bromegrass mixture grazed by beef cattle.
Preliminary results indicate that the more traditional corn and soybean rotation is the most profitable system. Annual alfalfa production and returns were highly variable and alfalfa demand is weak in the region. The livestock system showed promise but could be more competitive with a longer grazing season.
North Central Region SARE 1997 Annual Report.