Integrated Crop-Livestock Management

Integrated crop-livestock agriculture is not a new idea. Evidence demonstrates it was the original method of agriculture practiced in ancient Europe over 8,000 years ago. Modern industrialization of agriculture led to a rise in intensive monoculture cropping systems that rely on synthetic fertilizers. An unfortunate repercussion of this system is the depletion of our soils. Re-integrating livestock into cropping systems increases food production and ecosystem services at the same time, increasing nutrient cycling, water storage, beneficial microbes, and soil carbon. Sheep work well in most orchards, vineyards, and hay fields to manage weeds and remove crop residues, while reducing the need for carbon-intensive discing and contributing to the nutrient load and biological richness of the soil.