No-till Livestock-Grain Rotation for Diversified Farms

2007 Annual Report for SW06-066

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $125,122.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Matching Federal Funds: $13,737.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $8,997.00
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Stephen Bramwell
WSU Dept. Crop and Soil Sciences
Lynne Carpenter-Boggs
Washington State University

No-till Livestock-Grain Rotation for Diversified Farms


This project was created to develop the potential for integrated livestock-grain low-disturbance farming systems for the Palouse region. Through producer-researcher-extension working groups the advantages, issues, and barriers to such systems have been identified, discussed, and iteratively refined. Although many producers see good economic potential for such integration, agronomic and management questions must be addressed before a complete economic picture can emerge. The most common producer question, how to transition from pasture to row-crop production, is being addressed directly through trials on a cooperator farm. Long-term Agroecosystem Research Trials are being used to compare several rotation options including crop-livestock integration.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  1. Form a producer-researcher-extension work group to assess and develop wheat-pasture systems for the wheat-farming region in Washington and Idaho.

    Utilize this working group to identify locally relevant goals, needs, impediments, and potential solutions concerning cereal-pasture systems.

    Build upon previous and ongoing SARE-funded research to further adapt/develop cereal-livestock management practices for the Palouse region of Washington and Idaho. Describe at least two integrated cereal-livestock systems appropriate for trials PCFS and local farm sites.

    Compare soil quality and environmental impacts of four management treatments at the PCFS, consisting of integrated organic cereal-livestock, non-integrated organic minimum-disturbance cereal, CRP, and perennial polyculture cropping systems.

    Develop comparative nutrient and operating budgets in a WSU Cooperative Extension business report format (Hinman and Schirman, 1997).

    Develop comparative energetic analyses of alternative cropping systems, using energy accounting, to determine energy efficiency of our four cropping systems.


  1. One producer-researcher-extension work group meeting was held this year. The field work was discussed and reviewed. Attendees identified regional major economic and environmental issues, reasons to diversify into crop-livestock systems, and barriers to doing so.

    One field day was held at the cooperator farm plots, and another at the ART plots to present and discuss the project with producers and policy-makers.

    Field plots at a cooperator’s farm were managed and sampled to assess effects of several methods of transition from established alfalfa into pasture or cereal grains.

    Livestock (sheep) were introduced to the Palouse Conservation Field Station (PCFS) for the first time in summer 2007.

    Soil and plant samples and animal performance data have been gathered and analyses have begun. Large numbers of soil samples, soil analyses, and data analysis were done completed for field work in Walla Walla and Albion, WA. This information is needed to develop nutrient and operating budgets and energy accounting.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The benefits to producers and consumers from this project stem from the presentation, demonstration, and discussion of alternative farm systems, and the nutrient and economic comparisons of these options. Our region’s agricultural economy is highly dependent on a small handful of crops, along with the Conservation Reserve Program. Many producers are struggling financially and philosophically with this dependence and rigidity. With the co-emergence of consumer demand for local foods, organic foods, and grass-fed meats, interest in these new opportunities has piqued among producers. Outputs of energetic and economic comparisons of local farming systems will be useful in producer decision-making. Closer cycling of nutrients through the integration of livestock, and demonstration of this potential, is improving consumer-producer relations and improving consumer/policy-maker opinions about sustainable livestock production.

In the PCFS field tour this year, over 50 policy-makers and agricultural and environmental interest groups were introduced to these crop-livestock integration efforts. The exposure of these key individuals to the aesthetic, economic, social, and environmental potential of integration could have far-reaching effects.


Joel Huesby
Thundering Hooves
2021 Isaacs Ave.
Walla Walla, WA 99362
Office Phone: 5095229400
Mark Stannard
Pullman, WA 99164-6211
Office Phone: 5093356892
Melissa Lines
Skylines Farm
4551 Highway 6
Harvard, ID 83834
Office Phone: 2088758747
Steve Fransen
Associate Crop Scientist
24106 N. BUNN RD.
Prosser, WA 99350-8694
Office Phone: 5097869266
John Pearson
Pearson Farm and Fencing
Colfax, WA
Office Phone: 5092880161
Steve Vanvleet
310 N MAIN ROOM 209
Colfax, WA 99111-1894
Office Phone: 5093976290
John Reganold
WSU Crop and Soil Sciences
Pullman, WA 99164-6420
Office Phone: 5093358856