2006 Annual Report
Dickinson Research Extension Center
1089 State Avenue
Dickinson, ND 58601
for Printer Friendly version
Integrating Crops and Livestock by Ley Farming in the northern Great Plains
Patrick M. Carr
(Triticum spp.) was grown on over 770
000 ha in southwestern
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) was grown on over 80
000 ha in southwestern
Alfalfa and other legume species offer benefits in
addition to the high-value forage that is produced. Legumes are the symbiotic
hosts of microorganisms that can fix atmospheric nitrogen (N2) biologically,
and this relatiionship can reduce if not eliminate N-fertilizer costs of
subsequent crops in a rotation. Fertilizer expenses comprised around 20% and
rising of the variable costs associated with wheat production in 2005 (Swenson
and Haugen, 2004), so a reduction in N-fertilizer use could represent a
substantial economic savings to wheat producers. The potential of incorporating
legumes into rotations with wheat patterned after Australian ley farming, where
wheat and legume pasture are rotated, was considered in a previous state
project (ND 06251). Results of that project suggest that strategies must be
developed so that the rotational benefits to wheat that occur in Australian ley
farming can be duplicated in southwestern
was the dominant cropping system in southwestern
development of ley farming was a response to the environmental and economic
problems created by wheat-fallow in
potential of 32 legume species and subspecies was evaluated as regenerating
pasture crops in a 3-yr study in southwestern
Establishment success was poor for regenerating legume species when first seeded mechanically in previous research, and work is needed to determine if forage legume stands can be established consistently (Carr et al., 2005a). Research also is needed which determines the impact of small-grain companion crops when establishing forage legume species in southwestern North Dakota, since this is a common practice even though most research has been confined to subhumid regions.
yield was enhanced following the adoption of ley farming compared with
Materials and Methods
Objective 1. Develop methods for the successful establishment, maintenance, and termination of regenerating legume pasture species.
studies are included under Objective 1. Four of these studies focus on refining
seeding methods for consistent establishment of legume stands in southwestern
Objective 2. Determine the soil N (nitrate, ammonium, and total) and water-use effects of legume forages on spring wheat in a wheat-pasture rotation.
Two studies are included under Objective 2. One study will determine the amount of N contained in plant parts (above-ground vegetation and roots) of legume species that can contribute to the soil-N pool. The impact that forage legumes have on performance of a subsequent wheat crop compared with applications of N-fertilizer will be determined in a second study. Soil water-use by legume forages is unknown in this region, so water-use by different species will be determined following a modification of the procedure described by Miller et al. (2002).
Objective 3. Identify the impact of pasture-based cropping systems on energy balance, economics, and pests compared with a grain-based cropping system.
experiment designed to determine if ley farming can be adopted in southwestern
Results and Discussion
None at this time
Allen, C.L., and M.H. Entz. 1994. Zero-tillage establishment of alfalfa and meadow
bromegrass as influenced by previous annual grain crop.
Badaruddin, M., and D.W. Meyer. 1989. Legume forages effects on soil nitrogen and grain yield, and nitrogen nutrition of wheat. Agron. J. 81:419-424.
Carr, P.M., B.G. Schatz, J.C. Gardner, and S.F. Zwinger. 1993. Grain yield and biomass from intercropping wheat and flax. J. Prod. Agric. 6:67-72.
Carr, P.M., W.W. Poland, J.C. Caton, and G.B. Martin. 1998. Forage and N yield of barley-pea and oat-pea intercrop. Agron. J. 90:79-84.
Carr, P.M., R.D. Horsley, and W.W. Poland. 2003. Tillage and seeding rate effects on wheat cultivars: I. Grain production. Crop Sci. 43:202-209.
Carr, P.M., J. Krall, K. Kephart, and W.W. Poland. 2004. Ley farming: A
systems approach to integrating crop and livestock enterprises. In K.A.
Ringwall (ed.) 2005 Annual report.
Carr, P.M., W.W. Poland, and L.J. Tisor. 2005a. Forage legume
regeneration from the soil seed bank in western
W.W. Poland, and L.J. Tisor. 2005b. Natural reseeding of forage legumes following
wheat in western
Farm Financial Management Database (FinBin). 2005. Crop enterprise analyses for hay, alfalfa., sunflower, and lentils. North Dakota Farm and Range Business Management – Western Slope region. http://www.finbin.umn.edu//CropEnterprise / Analysis/ [verified 01 Feb., 2005)
Koala, S. 1982.
Adaptation of Australian ley farming to
Miller, P.R., J. Waddington, C.L.
McDonald, and D.A. Derksen. 2002.
Cropping sequence affects wheat productivity on the semiarid northern
Puckridge, D.W., and R.J. French. 1983. The annual legume pasture in cereal-ley farming
systems of southern
SAS Institute. 1985. SAS procedures for personal computers. Version 6 ed. SAS Inst.,
Shewmaker, G.E., H.F. Mayland and S.B. Hansen. 1997. Cattle grazing preference among eight endophyte-free tall fescue cultivars. Agron. J. 89:695-701.
Swenson, A., and R. Haugen. 2004. Projected 2005 crop budgets.
USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
2005. Agricultural statistics.
Available online at
[ Back to 2006 Annual Report Index ] [ Back to Agronomy Reports ]
[ DREC Home ] [ Contact DREC ] [ Top of Page ]