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Integrating Livestock into a Sustainable Cropping System: The Dudley Smith Initiative

The overarching goal of this study is to evaluate the ecology, economics, and community impacts of an alternative agroecosystem involving pasture integrated within conservation-based row crop production. The study will be conducted on the 225-acre Dudley Smith Farm located near Pana, Illinois in Christian County. The project involves a unique multidisciplinary approach that involves several research scientists, extension agents, and stakeholders. We began the initial phase of this long-term study in the spring of 2002.

The experimental system will consist of separate cool season and native warm season grass pastures integrated with row crop production. The pastures will be grazed by cattle during the spring and summer. After row crops are harvested, livestock will graze a combination of cover crops and crop residues during winter. Livestock will return to cool season pastures in the spring. This integrated pasture-based system will be compared with a conventional, short-term corn and soybean rotation. Demonstration plots planted with the energy crop Miscanthus may be added to the study for comparison with the other systems as well. Within the context of this comparison, various ecological variables will be measured, and the costs and revenues from the different systems will be analyzed. We also will evaluate how this type of agricultural system affects the local communities within and surrounding Christian County.

We believe that long-term studies conducted at realistic spatial scales are critical to facilitate the transfer-ral of scientific information that farmers can use. Simply put, results from such studies are more believable to practicing farmers and stakeholders alike.

Benjamin Tracy, Assistant Professor of Agroecology
Department of Crop Sciences
(217) 265-5313; bftracy@illinois.edu

Germán Bollero, Assistant Professor of Biometry and Cropping Systems
Department of Crop Sciences
(217) 333-9475; gbollero@illinois.edu

Dan Faulkner, Professor
Department of Animal Sciences
(217) 333-1781; danb@illinois.edu

Anne Heinze Silvis, Ext. Specialist in Prgm. Development Laboratory
for Community and Economic Development
Dept. Of Human and Community Development
(217) 333-5126; a-silvis@illinois.edu

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Participating Departments
College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois Extension
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