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Tropentag, September 18 - 20, 2019 in Kassel

"Filling gaps and removing traps for sustainable resources development"

Integral Assessment of Productive and Environmental Parameters of a Forage-Based Silvopastoral System

Jacobo Arango1, Mauricio Sotelo1, Jhon Fredy Gutierrez2, Belisario Hincapie1, Eduardo Vazquez3, Nikola Teutscherov√°4, Xiomara Gaviria5, Isabel Molina6, Rolando Barahona7, Mirjam Pulleman8, Ngonidzashe Chirinda1, Michael Peters1

1International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia
2University of Cauca, Dept. of Agricultural Sciences, Colombia
3Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Dept. of Agricultural Production, Spain
4Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Fac. of Tropical AgriSciences, Dept. of Crop Sciences and Agroforestry, Czech Republic
5National University of Colombia, Colombia
6Autonomous University of Yucatan, Dept. of Animal Nutrition, Mexico
7National University of Colombia, Dept. of Animal Production, Colombia
8Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands


To quantify the productivity and environmental benefits of improved forage-based silvopastoral systems, a six hectares field trial was established in 2013 at the headquarters of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) using improved forages developed at CIAT and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). A randomised complete block design with three replications was used with three treatments: T1 grass alone, Brachiaria hybrid cv. Cayman; T2: Grass + herbaceous legume, Canavalia brasiliensis and T3: Grass + herbaceous legume + tree legume Leucaena diversifolia. In order to measure animal productivity, a group of steers was fattened (from 200 to 450kg) and subgroups of animals were assigned to the three treatments (T1, T2 and T3) in a rotational grazing system (stocking rate: 4 animals per hectare). Animal subgroups were kept in each treatment for comparison purpouses. Live weight gain per animal was recorded monthly and large differences were found between treatments with an average of 240, 744 and 819 kg ha-1 yr-1 for T1, T2 and T3, respectively. Environmental parameters evaluated in the three treatments included soil chemical and physical parameters as well as soil macrofauna, as an indicator of soil health. A positive impact of forage diversification on key soil properties and the abundance and diversity of soil macroinvertebrates was found with best results in T3 compared to the other two treatments. The taxonomic abundance and functional diversity of soil macrofauna were found to correlate positively with forage diversification and the level of inclusion of legumes in a grass-alone system.
Finally, enteric methane emissions of animals grazing T1 and T3 were measured. Average amounts per treatment (n=4), were 30.1 and 19.9 g CH4 kg-1 of dry matter intake for T1 and T3, respectively.
Our results evidence the benefits of silvopastoral systems in supporting sustainable intensification of livestock systems and the improving livestock productivity per unit area, while delivering ecosystem services and simultaneously reducing the environmental footprint of the animals.

Keywords: Climate change, greenhouse gases, soil quality, tropical forages

Contact Address: Jacobo Arango, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), A A 6713, Cali, Colombia, e-mail: j.arango@cgiar.org

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