Balanced nutrient inputs on crop land positively impact productivity of the livestock compartment of mixed crop–livestock farming system, a new study has revealed. This knowledge can build on the currently perceived need and benefits of balanced nutrient replenishment in crop–livestock system.
This is a key finding by the India based team of Amare Haileslassie, Michael Blu¨mmel , S. P. Wani, K. L. Sahrawat, G. Pardhasaradhi and Anandan Samireddypalle. It is published by Springer on October 27, 2012. The paper is entitled Extractable soil nutrient effects on feed quality traits of crop residues in the semiarid rainfed mixed crop–livestock farming systems of Southern India.
Amare et al note that rainfed agriculture covers 80 % of the world cropland and produces more than 60 % of cereal grain. In India, rainfed agriculture has a distinct place and occupies 67 % of the cultivated area, contributing 44 % of the food grains and supporting 40 % of the human and 65 % of the livestock population.
Rainfed agriculture is of critical importance for the livelihood of smallholder farmers in the arid and semiarid regions of southern India (e.g. Karnataka). In these regions, livestock are strongly associated with crop production.
The results of this study clearly demonstrated that the outcome of soil nutrient depletion, in a mixed crop–livestock faming system, is far beyond reducing grain production. It affects livestock feed quality and thus is strongly associated with the demand for resources especially land and water. Such soil–crop–livestock continuum is seldom explored and rarely used to encourage smallholder farmers to improve soil nutrient management. So this knowledge can certainly build on the existing understanding of the need and benefits of balanced nutrient management in crop–livestock system.