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Open AccessArticle

Cropping System and Rotational Grazing Effects on Soil Fertility and Enzymatic Activity in an Integrated Organic Crop-Livestock System

1
Department of Plant Protection, Rural Engineering and Soils, São Paulo State University, R. Monção, 830-Zona Norte, Ilha Solteira, São Paulo 15385-000, Brazil
2
Departments of Agronomy and Horticulture, Iowa State University, 106 Horticulture Hall, Ames, IA 50011, USA
3
Department of Animal Science, University of Minnesota, 1364 Eckles Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55108, USA
4
Rodale Institute, 611 Siegfriedale Rd., Kutztown, PA 19530, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2020, 10(6), 803; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10060803
Received: 14 April 2020 / Revised: 20 May 2020 / Accepted: 1 June 2020 / Published: 5 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Sustainability of Crop-Livestock Systems)
Alternative grazing systems that incorporate cover crops may be useful to achieve a longer grazing season and maximize forage production. However, little is known about their impact on soil properties, especially in the presence or absence of cattle grazing in the early spring. The aim of this study was to evaluate the interacting effects of cropping systems with and without cattle grazing in rotation with corn or soybean on the balance and dynamics of soil fertility and enzyme activity. This study was conducted as a system experiment between 2015 and 2019 in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, USA. The experimental design was a randomized complete block design with four replications. Treatments included presence or absence of cattle grazing and two types of cropping systems (pasture-rye-soybean-pasture [P-R-SB-P] and pasture-wheat/vetch-corn-pasture [P-W/V-C-P]. Soil samples were collected six times during the study. Soil properties analyzed were soil pH, organic matter, salinity, K, Ca, Mg, cation exchange capacity (CEC), P, β-glucosidase, alkaline phosphatase, aryl-sulfatase, fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis, ammonium, nitrate, permanganate oxidizable carbon (POXC), N%, C%, S%, and C:N ratio. Grazing increased glucosidase activity, available Ca, Mg, NO3, NH4+, soil pH, soil C%, S%, and the C:N ratio. In the P-W/V-C-P cropping system, soil pH, available Ca, NO3, and sulfatase activity were found to increase compared with the P-R-SB-P cropping system. In contrast, soil OM, available K, Mg, CEC, glucosidase, phosphatase, POXC, and total C%, N%, and S% were greater in the P-R-SB-P cropping system compared with the P-W/V-C-P cropping system. The results of this study suggested that rotational grazing can increase soil quality and microbial decomposition under the P-W/V-C-P cropping system, and that this result was greater than under the P-R-SB-P cropping system, leading to a faster nutrient cycling. These results show promise for producers who are seeking methods to diversify their farming operation and reduce the need for external inputs. View Full-Text
Keywords: cattle grazing; conservation agriculture; cover crops; organic cropping systems; soil quality cattle grazing; conservation agriculture; cover crops; organic cropping systems; soil quality
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MDPI and ACS Style

Galindo, F.S.; Delate, K.; Heins, B.; Phillips, H.; Smith, A.; Pagliari, P.H. Cropping System and Rotational Grazing Effects on Soil Fertility and Enzymatic Activity in an Integrated Organic Crop-Livestock System. Agronomy 2020, 10, 803. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10060803

AMA Style

Galindo FS, Delate K, Heins B, Phillips H, Smith A, Pagliari PH. Cropping System and Rotational Grazing Effects on Soil Fertility and Enzymatic Activity in an Integrated Organic Crop-Livestock System. Agronomy. 2020; 10(6):803. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10060803

Chicago/Turabian Style

Galindo, Fernando S.; Delate, Kathleen; Heins, Bradley; Phillips, Hannah; Smith, Andrew; Pagliari, Paulo H. 2020. "Cropping System and Rotational Grazing Effects on Soil Fertility and Enzymatic Activity in an Integrated Organic Crop-Livestock System" Agronomy 10, no. 6: 803. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10060803

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