Integrated Crop–Livestock Systems in the Southeastern USA
Opportunities to integrate crops and livestock are abundant throughout the southeastern USA due to a mild climate and a rich natural resource base that can produce different crops throughout the year. Although not currently common, integration of forage and grazing animals with cropping systems could benefit both production and environmental goals. This report summarizes research from some of the key components that could produce viable integrated crop–livestock production systems: sod-based crop rotation, cover cropping, intercropping, and conservation tillage. Sod-based crop rotations have been effective in breaking pest cycles and restoring soil organic matter, which critically controls a wide diversity of key soil and plant properties and processes. Cover cropping by itself has many agronomic benefits, but its adoption appears to be limited, because of cost without immediate economic benefit. Grazing of cover crops could provide an immediate economic benefit to producers, especially with the development of conservation tillage technologies to avoid deterioration of soil and water quality. The potential for advancement of integrated crop–livestock systems is exemplified in a few current research projects in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions. With greater integration of crops and livestock, new management guidelines and experiences will be needed, but the quantity and quality of production and economic return could increase, while at the same time placing less degrading pressure on soil and water resources.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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