Livestock-Crop Integration

The development of agriculture over the past half-century has led to increasing specialization of production systems in which crop and livestock production have separated into distinct industries. While this separation has enhanced the “management efficiency” of both systems, ecological functions that occur in an integrated system have either been lost or must be replaced by mechanization or an increase in the use of off-farm inputs. New strategies are being explored for the reintegration of livestock and crop production in modern production systems to improve ecological function and economic performance.

Featured Livestock-Crop Integration Publications

  • Integrating Livestock into Dryland Organic Crop Rotations

    Carpenter-Boggs, L., Painter, K., and Wachter, J. Recorded webinar presentation delivered October 22, 2013.  It covers a variety of reasons to integrate livestock into crop rotations, and summarizes past research on the topic. It is directed towards beginning growers interested in diversifying their income and crop rotations, towards educators and Extension workers, and towards a more general audience wanting to learn more about mixed crop-livestock systems.

  • Beefing Up the Palouse

    Since 1985 the U.S. government has implemented the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) which pays farmers NOT to grow crops on millions of acres of highly erodable land. In addition to being a controversial program, much of this land is now coming out of CRP which puts pressure on farmers to grow crops in these areas once again. In the Palouse in Washington State, local farmers and ranchers are looking at holistically grazing livestock as an economically and environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional wheat farming in these sensitive areas and to the CRP in general. Video presented by Managing Change Northwest.

  • 2008 Estimated Costs and Returns for a 150-head Cow-calf to Grass-finished Beef Production System in the Channelled Scablands Range Area of East-central Washington

    In response to the popularity of grass-finished beef, this publication provides a production budget analysis using both ranch-owned and leased forage sources in eastern Washington to determine profitability. Funded by the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, the Beefing Up the Palouse pilot project applied a total systems approach to develop a replicable production model to help producers take full advantage of the eastern Washington dryland wheat production area resource base.

Additional Livestock-Crop Integration Publications

  • Surprising New Uses for Former CRP Land

    2010. By Kathy Barnard in Connections Magazine (CAHNRS and WSU Extension Alumni and Friends publication).

  • Organic Alfalfa Management Guide

    This new extension bulletin is an excellent resource for growers interested in producing organic alfalfa, both irrigated and dryland. Alfalfa provides an excellent transitional crop for those interested in organic production of other crops as well. This guide includes a great deal of information on managing weeds, pests and diseases, and includes a small section on economics.

  • Diversifying the Family Farm – Spring 2008

    Article in Sustaining the Pacific Northwest Newsletter

  • Pastured Poultry

    Raising pastured poultry is a simple way to integrate livestock into small farms. A summary of experiences at WSU Puyallup with small-scale pastured poultry production on organically certified land from 2005-2007 is presented. The goal was to integrate pastured broilers into a vegetable-pasture rotation in an organic farming systems experiment.

  • Estimating Plant-Available Nitrogen Release from Manures, Composts, and Specialty Products

    Gale, E., D. Sullivan, C. Cogger, A. Bary, D. Hemphill and E. Myhre. 2006. J. Environ. Qual. 35:2321-2332.

  • Survivability of Fecal Coliform in Soil after Winter Application of Dairy Slurry on a Transitional-organic, Grazing Based Dairy – December 2005

    Article in Sustaining the Pacific Northwest Newsletter

  • Using Local Sources of Organic Nutrients

    Use of organic materials from livestock farms and recycled urban waste streams can help improve soil productivity and reduce nutrient imbalances, and can contribute to the sustainability of local agriculture. Site includes link to an organic fertilizer calculator.

  • Healing the Land through Multi-Species Grazing

    A noxious weed invasion is underway on the rangelands of the western United States that is causing significant problems in the form of ecosystem and bio-diversity damage resulting in a reduction in the carrying capacity of grazing animals. The expenditure of millions of dollars on control measures has not been successful; these measures have had negative impacts on livestock producers’ profitability and, in some cases, have caused environmental problems. This DVD is about the use of multi-species grazing (cattle, sheep, goats) as a tool in an integrated approach to the control of noxious weeds. It depicts the activities of a 2-year regional project funded by the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development program. Thirty participants from four states (Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California) took part in this project. They represented state/federal agencies, extension, county weed boards and ranchers. Three of these projects are described in this DVD. 37 minutes. (available for purchase or free online viewing)

  • 2003 Graziers Conference: Grazing According to Gerrish – December 2003

    Article in Sustaining the Pacific Northwest Newsletter

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