Annual Legumes in Fallow as an Integrated Crop/Livestock Alternative in the Central Great Plains.

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1998: $173,979.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $181,000.00
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Principal Investigator:
James Krall
University of Wyoming

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: sheep


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, free-range, manure management, grazing - rotational
  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, continuous cropping, cover crops, fallow, multiple cropping, no-till, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: competition, mulches - living, mulching - vegetative
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, public participation, sustainability measures


    Within the region, Medicago rigidula has the greatest potential for "ley farming". It has the necessary winter survival potential, seed survival and staggered seed-softening. Annual forage pea rotated with cereals might help sustain the dryland agriculture. Austrian winter pea/sheep grazing produced more than twice the profit of wheat/fallow. Identification of pea lines for optimum winter survival has advanced to a farmer cooperator evaluation phase. Further selection should generate adapted peas of multiple market classes. No-till legume green manure increased soil carbon. With biomass additions limited by lack of moisture, no-till was critical to the storage of soil carbon and nitrogen.

    Project objectives:

    1. Determine the feasibility of utilizing ley cropping systems to integrate livestock into the winter wheat-summer fallow rotation (WY).

    2. Determine the efficiencies of water-use, biomass and N-fixation when incorporating peas and medic into the wheat-corn-summer fallow cropping system (CO).

    3. To evaluate the economic effectiveness of incorporating alternative legume crop and livestock grazing rotations with a traditional winter wheat-fallow system (WY).

    4. Demonstrate the effectiveness of incorporating legumes into the agroecosystem through on-farm research and demonstrations, field tours and media dissemination (WY, CO).

    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.