Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Sod Based Rotation

Posted by romeethredge on December 23, 2014

With the lower commodity prices and higher cattle prices, we have thought again about the sod based rotation idea that has been explored by David Wright in Florida and others.

Here’s an excerpt from the UGA Bahiagrass publication.

“Improvements in nearly all facets of crop production have been reported when row crops are grown after bahiagrass compared to following other row crops . This includes the most important factors to producers—yield and crop quality. Yet, there are other proven improvements that result from such rotations.

In terms of soil environment, which greatly contributes to the sustainability of agricultural systems, factors such as reduced erosion, build-up of soil organic matter, root growth and depth of penetration by the succeeding crop, water infiltration, earthworm population, and soil tilth all change for the better.

From a row crop standpoint, the most important benefit is usually from reduced incidence of numerous pests. Research results have shown a reduction in early and late leaf spot (Cercospora arachidicola and Cercosporidium personatum, respectively) diseases in peanut, decreased southern blight/stem rot/white mold (Sclerotium rolfsii) in peanuts and cotton, and fewer thrips (Flankliniella fusca), leading to less tomato spotted wilt virus (Tospovirus) in peanuts and tobacco.

In addition, it is reported that peanut and soybean root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp.), reniform nematode (Rotylenchulus reniformis), and soybean cyst nematode (Heterodera glycines Ichinohe) infestations may decline following bahiagrass since it is a non-host to these pests .

Collectively, these factors can result in savings from reduced inputs such as a less frequent need for irrigation, elimination of one or more fungicide spray events, and potentially reduced applications of expensive specialty herbicides due to bahiagrass outcompeting weeds.

Peanuts that have been sod-seeded
Figure 3. Peanuts that have been sod-seeded into a field that was formerly in bahiagrass.
(Photo Credit: Dr. David Wright, University of Florida)

In addition to the potential for improved yields and reduced inputs for the row crop enterprise, the inclusion of livestock can be a very successful capital venture that diversifies the farm operation and may serve as a profit center. This can buffer and insulate the farm operation from market fluctuations and, perhaps, catastrophic weather events. Even operations that do not wish to incorporate ownership of livestock could still benefit from similar systems (e.g., contract grazing, selling hay/seed of pasture grasses to nearby cattlemen, etc.).

Though an economic analysis should be conducted to determine if a sod-based rotation using bahiagrass is economically feasible in a specific scenario, this may be a profitable rotation system for some farms in the Southeast.

If bahiagrass is to be used in the rotation, it is recommended that it stay in stand for two years, followed immediately by peanuts or soybeans, then by a subsequent cotton crop (Do not plant cotton immediately after bahiagrass, since there are reports of excessive and rank vegetative growth in cotton that followed bahiagrass).”

Here’s a poster recently presented by Kris Balkcom and others showing some research results.

SBR poster Headland Cattle Field Day 2014_SOM2

 

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One Response to “Sod Based Rotation”

  1. Reblogged this on Thomas County Ag.

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