, Volume 88, Issue 2, pp 259-273
Date: 30 Apr 2010

Managing grazing animals to achieve nutrient cycling and soil improvement in no-till integrated systems

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Abstract

Crop-livestock systems are regaining their importance as an alternative to unsustainable intensive farming systems. Loss of biodiversity, nutrient pollution and habitat fragmentation are a few of many concerns recently reported with modern agriculture. Integrating crops and pastures in no-till systems can result in better environmental services, since conservation agriculture is improved by system diversity, paths of nutrient flux, and other processes common in nature. The presence of large herbivores can positively modify nutrient pathways and soil aggregation, increasing soil quality. Despite the low diversity involved, the integration of crops and pastures enhances nature’s biomimicry and allows attainment of a higher system organization level. This paper illustrates these benefits focusing on the use of grazing animals integrated with crops under no-tillage systems characteristic of southern Brazil.