Integrated Crop and Livestock Systems: Dryland Crop Rotations to Improve Economic and Ecological Sustainability in the Central High Plains

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $212,928.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Steve Paisley
University of Wyoming

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Vegetables: peas (culinary)
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, pasture fertility, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, winter forage
  • Crop Production: continuous cropping, cover crops, fallow, intercropping, application rate management, conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, focus group
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: field monitoring/scouting, mulching - vegetative
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships


    Project SW05-117 focuses on developing additional dryland cropping options for producers in southeastern Wyoming, northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska in order to improve economic sustainability while reducing erosion and improving soil quality. This three-year project looks at integrating alternative forages such as winter pea, spring pea and medic as alternative cropping system rotations compared to the traditional dryland rotations of wheat-fallow. Soil quality, production (both livestock gain and crop production) and economic analysis will be used to evaluate and compare the sustainability of these practices vs. conventional farming.

    Project objectives:

    The objectives of this project are to establish integrated dryland cash-crop/forage/livestock systems and to evaluate the impacts on soil quality and profitability. This project represents the initial three years of a multi-year study evaluating dryland cropping system opportunities in southeastern Wyoming.

    Sub-objectives are:

    1. Establish and evaluate the use of both annual and regenerative legumes (peas and medic) in an integrated crop, forage and livestock system.

    2. Measure and compare soil quality for the alternative crop, forage and livestock systems vs. traditional wheat-fallow and perennial pasture.

    3. Evaluate profitability of each of the proposed alternative crop, forage and livestock systems.

    4. Compare long-term sustainability of permanent pastures vs. sustainable cropping and livestock systems on existing wheat-fallow dryland fields.

    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.