Research Article

Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 88, Issue 2, pp 259-273

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

  • Paulo César de Faccio CarvalhoAffiliated withFaculty of Agronomy, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul Email author 
  • , Ibanor AnghinoniAffiliated withFaculty of Agronomy, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
  • , Anibal de MoraesAffiliated withUniversidade Federal do Parana
  • , Edicarlos Damacena de SouzaAffiliated withUniversidade Federal de Goias
  • , Reuben Mark SulcAffiliated withOhio State University
  • , Claudete Reisdorfer LangAffiliated withUniversidade Federal do Parana
  • , João Paulo Cassol FloresAffiliated withVirginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
  • , Marília Lazzarotto Terra LopesAffiliated withFaculty of Agronomy, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
  • , Jamir Luis Silva da SilvaAffiliated withEmbrapa Clima Temperado
    • , Osmar ConteAffiliated withFaculty of Agronomy, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
    • , Cristiane de Lima WespAffiliated withFaculty of Agronomy, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
    • , Renato LevienAffiliated withFaculty of Agronomy, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
    • , Renato Serena FontaneliAffiliated withEmbrapa, Centro Nacional de Pesquisa de Trigo
    • , Cimelio BayerAffiliated withFaculty of Agronomy, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

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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.

Keywords

Conservation agriculture Grazing intensity Mixed systems Nutrient cycling Soil quality