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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Strategic Location of Conservation Practices Related to Cow-Calf Production in the Southern Piedmont

Authors
item Fisher, Dwight
item Steiner, Jean
item Endale, Dinku
item Stuedemann, John
item Schomberg, Harry
item Franzluebbers, Alan
item Wilkinson, Stanley

Submitted to: Geospatial Information in Agriculture and Forestry International Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 16, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: On farms and in watersheds, detailed geographic data can be collected and analyzed with the latest mapping technology and used to maximize returns on investments in resource conservation. Beef-cow herds produce calves in the Piedmont and present unique challenges for resource conservation. Various pasture plants can be used with rotational grazing to minimize concentrating nutrients and feces that might move into creeks and rivers during heavy rainfall. However, cow-calf pairs are difficult to move in the first few weeks after the calf is born and cows are often concentrated prior to giving birth to simplify care. These practices may pose environmental hazards by concentrating nutrients and exposing soil to erosion. Analysis of detailed information from the new mapping technologies can suggest pastures that present the best locations for pasturing cows with young calves. This information may also be used to locate and prioritize the installation of conservation practices to provide maximum positive environmental impacts. On a watershed basis, information developed with these technologies can be used to identify land uses that are most likely to result in environmental hazards. Implementing conservation practices at these locations could provide the most cost-effective means of improving water quality and increase the ability of the watershed to support all of its designated uses.

Technical Abstract: Conservation practices have often been located by visual inspection and funded based upon the willingness of cooperators to implement a practice. On farms and watersheds geospatial data can be used in the decision making process. Cow-calf production in the Southeastern Piedmont presents unique challenges. Balanced combinations of cool- and warm-season forage species can be combined with planned animal movements to prevent concentrating animals in a limited area for extended periods. This will minimize the concentration of nutrients and feces but cow-calf pairs are difficult to move in the first few weeks postpartum. In addition, producers often concentrate animals just prior to parturition to simplify observation. These practices may pose environmental hazards by concentrating nutrients and exposing soil to erosion. Information on the surface hydrology can suggest pastures that present the best locations for extended pasturing of cows with young calves. This information may help locate and prioritize the installation of other conservation practices to provide maximum positive environmental impacts. On a watershed basis, geospatial information to identify farm systems that are least buffered from public water supplies and recreational areas. Implementing conservation practices at these locations provides a more rapid means of and increasing the ability of a watershed to support its designated uses.

Last Modified: 11/22/2014
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