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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Characterization and Use of Food-Processing Effluent for Forage and Beef Production1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 70 No. 5, p. 844-849
    Received: Feb 27, 1978

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  1. G. A. Jung2,
  2. G. A. Pearson3,
  3. R. E. Fowler4,
  4. D. M. Mitchell5,
  5. R. E. Kocher2 and
  6. E. H. Quigley2



Spray-irrigating grass swards with food-processing effluent on the Delmarva Peninsula creates the problem of grass accumulation. We hypothesized that spray-irrigated grass would support a relatively high stocking rate of grazing cattle, and that the effluent would be a source of fertilizer nutrients and digestible energy for livestock. Four mixed orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) paddocks, each 0.202 ha, were rotationally grazed at monthly intervals summer and autumn for 2 years with steers or heifers, averaging about 300 kg. The cattle were fed ground corn (Zea mays L.) at 1% body weight/day. Small amounts of commercial fertilizer were needed periodically to stimulate plant growth. Enough aftermath grass was produced to support 7.4 head/ha in summer and autumn without loss of stand. Forage quality (crude protein, energy, and mineral content) was good throughout the grazing season, but better in autumn than in summer. Energy levels in autumn approached that of concentrates. With the exception of Ca content prior to application of gypsum, mineral element composition of grass in effluent-irrigated pastures was much superior with regard to animal nutrition than that of untreated controls as well as grass grown elsewhere in the Northeast. Steers gained an average of 1.02 kg/day and totaled 1,075 kg/ha; heifers gained O.65 kg/day and totaled 673 kg/ha in summer and autumn. Weight gains for a 55-day period in autumn were 71% greater than those for a comparable period in summer. It was concluded that this highly productive ecosystem should be extensively used for animal production.

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