Agricultural Research Center, Ona *
-/ Research' Report RC-1977-7 June 1977
i s TRIPLE CROPPING FORCE SYSTEM IN SOUTH CENTRAL FLORIDA \.
i/V*- 1 P. Mislevy, J. Otte, A. J. Overman, H. L. Chapman,`J Jr.
and F. M. Peacock- \ .
Florida enjoys relatively favorable year-around temperatures, ardquate--'
moisture and high solar radiation. The "sunshine state" contains approximately
34 million acres of land area, with about 12 million acres in some form of native
or improved pasture. This land area provides feed for about 2.8 million cattle
thus 4.8 acres is required to provide feed per animal unit.
Perennial grass forage systems generally provide excessive forage throughout
t:he summer growth period (June-September). From fall to spring (October-May)
forage production is quite low, thus limiting the stocking capacity during this
In recent years some 600,000 weaned beef calves have been shipped out of the
state annually to winter pastures and feed lots in other areas. If these calves
were retained for an additional 300 lb gain, it would represent an increase in
gross income of 50 million dollars to the beef cattle industry in south Florida.
In order to retain these calves through the winter in Florida, economical feed
must be available. Dairy producers, even to a greater extent, need a uniform
supply of high quality feed.
The purpose of this multicropping system is to explore the physical and
economic feasibility of annually producing two or three crops in succession, on
the same land area and determine its effect on nematodes, insects and nutrients.
Cattle performance and feeding data will also be obtained on crops produced and
stored from multicroppingsystems.
SAssistant Professor (Agronomy), Agricultural Research Center, Ona; Assistant
Professor (Farm Mgt. Spec.) and Professor (Nematology), Agricultural Research
and Education Center, Bradenton; Professor (Animal Nutrition) and Associate
Professor (Animal Husbandry), Agricultural Research Center, Ona.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The study was conducted on 30 acres of an Ona and Myakka fine sand, located
at the Agricultural Research Center (ARC) Ona, Florida.
Land clearing and seed bed preparation
Pine trees, stumps and palmettos were removed from the experimental area,
6 months prior to actual land preparation. Two weeks prior to seeding the area
was roto-tilled with a Ground Hawg (R) rotovator to a depth of 6 inches.
Irrigation was provided throughout the year as needed. The source of water
was a 6 inch, 300 ft. deep well propelled by a 15 hp motor on a turbine pump.
The well supplied about 170 gpm of water which terminated at 6 risers. A
traveling water gun connected to the 6 inch riser distributed water over a 250
foot diameter. Approximately 1.0 inch of irrigation water was applied on the
corn crop per application on a weekly basis.
A rim-ditch about 7' deep and 16 feet wide was constructed around the entire
30 acre site. Two small drainage ditches were also constructed from two sand
pond areas to the rim-ditch allowing good drainage of pond areas. The base of
the rim-ditch was sloped so.that all surface water entering the ditch after a
heavy rainfall would accumulate in one area. An automatic low lift (8 inch 450
angle axial flow propeller pump, 1500 GPM at 7 ft. Tdh., 12 ft. discharge pipe
and a 5 hp motor) pump was installed in that area to remove water.
The yearly cropping rotation practiced in this study in 1976-77 was corn,
Aeschynomene and oats. The above three crops were seeded in succession on the
same land area. 'Dekalb XL 395', corn was seeded on February 28, 1976, in 36
inch rows to a final population of 18,000 plants per acre. Immediately after
the removal of the whole corn plant as forage, hulled (naked) Aeschynomene was
no-till seeded with a grain drill at the rate of 12 Ib per acre. Following the
removal of Aeschynomene, 'Fla. 501' oats was seeded in mid-November at a rate
of 3 bu per acre. In late January, when the oats were 12,inches tall they
were grazed for several days and it was then plowed under, due to the limited
time remaining before corn was to be seeded.
Lime dnd fertilizer practices
Three tons per acre of dolomitic limestone were rotovated into the seed
bed about 2 weeks prior to seeding corn. Fertilization practices for corn
were as follows: 50-100-200 lb/A N-P205-K20 + 30 Ib/A FTE 503 micronutrients-
at seeding; 100 Ib/A N was applied when corn was.8 inches tall; 100 Ib/A N
when corn was 24 inches tall. Fertility practices for Aeschynomene were
0-30-60 lb/A N-P205-K20 + 10 Ib/A CUO and 10 Ib/A ZNO when plants were 4 to
6 inches tall. Fertilization practices for oats were 50-50-100 Ib/A N-P205
K20 when oats were starting to tiller.
Weed and insect control
The insecticide-nematicide Furidan 10G(r) was applied in granular form at
the time of corn seeding, at a rate of 16 Ib/A formulation. This product acts
as a systemic to provide insect (lesser corn stalk bore, armyworm, wireworms,
etc.) control until plants attained a height of about 12 inches tall. The
herbicides used were AAtrex (R) at 2 Ib/A (formulation) and Lasso (R) at 2 qts/A
(formulation) applied pre-emerge over the entire 30 acre area. There was no
cultivation practice employed on the corn crop. No herbicides or insecti-
cides were used on the Aeschynomene or oat crops.
Harvesting and ensiling practices
The corn plant was direct-cut as forage when the ear was at the dent stage
of maturity with plants containing approximately 28% dry matter. The entire corn
/ FTE 503 have the following elemental content: Iron 18.0%; Zinc 7.0%;
Manganese 7.5%; Copper 3.0%; Boron 3.0%; and Mulybdenum 0.2%.
was cut back to a 4-5 inch stubble by a two-row forage harvester and chopped into
1/8 to 1/4 inch sections and preserved in oxygen free upright silos as silage.
Aeschynomene was harvested at the full bloom-seed stage with a haybine back to
a 3 inch stubble. Harvested plants were allowed to dry in windows until
moisture dropped from 72% to approximately 50%. Aeschynomene was then chopped in
about one inch sections and preserved in oxygen free upright silos as haylage.
No preservatives were added to either the corn or Aeschynomene forage during the
ensiling process. Corn, Aeschynomene and oats were sampled for dry matter
(D.M.), yield, in vitro organic matter digestion (IVOMD) and protein. Forage
yield of corn and Aeschynomene was obtained by weighing each wagon load of
harvested material when it entered the silo area. Samples for D.M. and chemical
analysis were obtained by randomly selecting 10 to 15 sub-samples placing them
into a large tub, mixing the material and selecting aboot 1 lb. Every 10th load of
corn forage and every 5th load of Aeschynomene forage was then analyzed for the
above variables. Corn grain yield and forage yield of oats was obtained by random
sampling the experimental area.
Cash and fixed costs were estimated in determining economic feasibility of
a multicropping forage program.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Forage indices (dry matter, yield, IVOMD and protein) of corn, Aeschynomene
and oats are presented in Table 1. The commercial corn variety 'Dekalb XL 395',
which was harvested in mid-June at 28.4% dry matter produced 5.6 tons/acre dry
matter or 19.3 T/A of green forage. Grain production of this corn crop was 91.5
bu/A shelled corn @ 15.5% moisture. The yield of 5.6 tons per acre DM is an
average crop. When all production variables such as fertility, water, plant
population, proper variety, weed and insect,control are correct, dry matter yields
should range between 8 and 10 tons per acre. One of the problems with this
initial year corn crop was low pH (4.4). Since dolomite was applied only 2 weeks
prior to the seeding of corn, there was not adequate time for the lime to go into
solution and react with soil particles, which eventually would elevate the pH.
Therefore, it is speculated that aluminum toxicity was responsible for
various deficiency symptoms. Several acres of corn in the study showed
phosphorus deficiency symptoms. These symptoms eventually disappeared as the
corn root system increased, however yields in these areas were only one quarter
of normal production.
Corn is a highly digestible crop indicated by the 73.0% IVOMD (Table 1).
This corn crop produced 7829 lb/A of estimated digestible organic matter or
estimated TDN. The crude protein content was 9.0% with an average of 1008 Ib/A
crude protein produced.
Harvesting of Aeschynomene began in early October and continued through the
next 4 weeks. Plants were at the late flowering-early seed stage. The
Aeschynomene was cut with a haybine at 27.5% dry matter and allowed to wilt to
48.7% dry matter. A forage harvester with a pick up head then chopped the
Aeschynomene which was then ensilad as haylage. Dry matter yield of the
Aeschynomene was 2.6 tons/A with a 41.7% IVOMD. This was a very low digestible
forage and was probably due to plants being over mature. Less mature Aeschynomene
(i.e. 3 ft tall) may average 58% IVOMD and 16% crude protein. Therefore,
regardless, whether a plant is a grass or legume, if harvested at the improper
stage of maturity percentage IVOMD and protein will be low as well as pounds/
acre of IVOMD and protein (Table 1).
Serious bird damage was encountered on the oats, with birds consuming both
seed and germinating seedlings. Following the seeding of oats cool temperatures
were experienced for the next 60 days resulting in reduced plant growth. During
. 'the wec. of January 17 temperatures fell to'lows of 19 to 240F. By late January
the oats had only attained a height.of 12 inches. Forage at this stage of maturity
contained 15.7% dry matter and only yielded. 8 ton/A. However, this forage was
ebeedingly high in digestibility and crude protein averaging 85.7 and 25.0%,
respectively. Even though dry matter yields were only one third that of Aeschy-
nomene pounds per acre estimated digestible organic matter and crude protein for
oats was 56% and 74%, respectively. The low yield of oats did not justify mechani-
cal harvestiig so they were grazed for several days and. then plowed under to start
land preparation for the corn crop.
Estilathiig-production costs is an important step in determining economic
feasibility of a multicropping forage program. Table 2 shows estimated costs for
the 1976 Ona ARC multicropping project.
Cash costs are a grower's out-of-pocket expenses to grow a crop after he
has machinery and water control equipment installed on the.land Cash costs
include: labor, fertilizer, chemicals, seed, full and custom harvest. The oats
:rop was grazed for .several days and then plowed under, so no harvest cost was
Cash costs per ton of dry matter produced in 1976 ranged from a low of $31.01
per ton for Aeschynomene to a high of, $66.69 per ton for oats, Forages were
valued on their energy and protein content. Value of corn and Aeschynomene
covered cash costs in 1976, .No cash value.of oats was obtained since it was only
3razed, for several days with the remainder of the crop plowed under.
Fixed costs include: depreciation, interest, taxes and insurance on a
$57,560 investment in water control and a-$46,900 investment in pre-harvest
machinery. When total cash and fixed costs are considered, the value of the
crop covered total costs only for the corn-forage.
Expected 1977 yields and costs per ton of dry matter are also shown in
Table 2. The corn forage and oats yields are expected to increase in 1977, the
costs per ton will decrease. If yields increase in 1977, value of crop produced
will cover total costs for both corn and oats.
Expanding the acreage could spread fixed machinery and some water control
fixed costs over a larger total production. This would enhance the profitabil-
ity of the multicropping system,
All fixed machinery and water control costs were charged to the multicropping
activities. Allocating a portion of these fixed costs to other farm or ranch
activities would likely enhance the profitability of the multicropping system.
Two feeding experiments were completed during the winter of 1976-77. The
first evaluated the use of corn silage in growing replacement heifers. During
the second, silage was utilized for fattening steers for slaughter. In addition
preliminary work was done with a corn silage poultry waste mixture and
currently feeding and digestibility studies are in progress to evaluate
Aeschynomene for beef cattle. Additional work is needed on using poultry wastes
with corn silage and it will be later this fall before the data is completed on
the Aeschynomene. This report contains available information about the two
corn silage experiments.
In the growing study forty yearling heifers of mixed breeding were divided
into two groups of twenty animals each on the basis of breeding and weight.
The groups were randomly allotted to the experiment presented in Table 3. Each
heifer was treated with Tramisol(R) prior to being placed on the experiment. The
heifers were fed the corn silage and the Ona mineral #2- ad lib, in drylot.
Each group received an average of 1.3 Ib of 41% cottonseed meal per head daily.
SOna #2 mineral contains 12% calcium, 12% phosphorus, 25%cf common salt,
l%iron, .13% copper, .03% cobalt and 200,000 I.U. of vitamin A per pound.
In addition lot number one receiveb"n average of 1.3 lb and lot two 2.8 Ib of
corn grain per head daily. The cattle had a 15-hour shrink prior to initial and
final weights. The feeding trial lasted for 116 days.
As shown in Table 3 the cattle on the lower level of concentrate intake
gained 1.77 Ib per head daily as compared to 1.82 lbs for the cattle receiving the
higher level of corn grain. Corn silage consumption decreased as corn grain was
increased. Dry matter intake per pound of gain was approximately equal for
both groups of heifers.
During the fattening study 42 head of two-year old crossbred steers were
placed on test for 93 days in drylot. Each steer was wormed with Tramisol(R)'
prior to being placed on test. Silage and Ona mineral #2 were fed ad lib.
Three different levels of concentrate feed were fed, as shown in Table 4. The
concentrate mixture was comprised of 66.97 dried citrus pulp, 24.9% cracked corn,
6.7% standard cane molasses, and 1.5% urea 287. At the conclusion of the feeding
test the cattle were sold and carcass evaluations were determined.-
The rate of gain increased directly with the level of concentrate feed
(Table 4). However, the additional rate of gain was not sufficient to recover the
additional feed cost involved, being only 0.3 of a Ib more for lot three as com-
pared to lot number one. As the level of concentrate increased the level of -
silage intake decreased and the dry matter intake required per pound of gain
increased. The average carcass data is shown in Table 5. There were small, but
non-significant differences in carcass data, related to level of concentrate
A. Z. Palmer, Professor (Meat Science) University of Florida, Gainesville,
In order to operate a triple cropping system economically successful,
timeliness of crop planting, proper fertility, water control, proper variety,
plant population, weed and insect control are of utmost importance. High
quality forages can be produced provided they are harvested at the proper
Cattle performed well on corn silage, however no animal performance data is
available at present regarding Aeschynomene and oats.
Table 1. Forage indices of corn, Aeschynomene and oats grown in a 1976-77 triple cropping
system at ARC, Ona.
Harvest Dry matter
time Harvest Ensiling
Green forage dry matter grain
Actual Estimated Protein
% Ib/A % Ib/A
Corn grain yields were determined
based on 15.5% moisture.
at the time corn was being harvested as forage.
** Values were determined by averaging in vitro organic matter digestion (IVOMD) and
collected from selective subs.Amples.
7829 9.0 1008
2068 8.7 452
1160 25.0 334
Grain yields are
Table 2.-Estimated growing costs for corn silage, aeschynomene, and oats under multicropping.
Corn Aeschynomene Oats
Item $/A Item $/A Item $/A
Plow labor 2.60 300 lbs. 0-10-20 11.22 500 lbs. 10-10-20 26.15
Disk labor 2.60 Limea.' 4.00 Lime? 4.00
750 lbs. Am. Nitrate 51.83 Fertilizer spread labor 0.50 Fertilizer spread labor 0.50
1000 Ibs. 0-10-20 37.40 5. bs. naked seed 4.25 3 bu. seed 12.00
10 Ibs. Frit 2.30 Drill labor 1.60 Drill labor 1.60
Limea 4.00 Windrower labor 8.70 Fuel, oil and repairs 9.10
Fertilizer spread labor 1.50 Labor to harvest and blow Total cash cost $53.35
1/2 gal. LassoR 7.30 in silo 17.50
1/2 gal. AatrexR 7.15 Fuel, oil and repairs 9.10
20 lbs. Furadan 10 GR 12.80 Custom harvest 23.75
1/3 unit seed 16.67 Total cash cost $80.62
Custom plant 6.00
Irrigation labor 3.25
Harvest labor 18.00
Fuel, oil and repairs 18.20
Custom harvest 65.00
Total cash cost $256.60
Water control depreciatipn Water control depreciation 1ater control depreciation
.and interest 69.35 and interest 69.35 and interest 69.35
Machinery fixed cost 74.40 Machinery fixed cost 74.40 Machinery fixed cost 74.40
Total fixed cost $143.75 Total fixed cost $143.75 Total fixed cost $143.75
Total cash & fixed cost $400.35 Total cash & fixed cost $224.37 Total cash & fixed cost $197.10
Yields, costs per ton of dry matter
Yield dry matter 5.60/T
Cash cost/T.DM. $ 45.82
Cash & fixed cost/T.DM. $ 71.49
Crop value $448.00 @ $ 80.00/T
and feed values achieved 1976
Crop value $195.00 @
Crop value $88.00 @
Yields, costs per ton of dry matter and feed values expected 1977
Yield dry matter 8.00T 2.60T 2.50T
Cash cost/T.DM. $ 32.08 $ 31.01 $ 21.34
Cash & fixed cost/T.DM. $ 50.04 $ 86.30 $ 78.84
Crop value $640.00 @ $ 80.00/T Crop value $195.00 0 $ 75.00/T Crop value $275.00 1 $110.00/T
a Estimate 1 T/Acre/Every 3 Years @ $12.00/T.
b No harvest costs included.
c Yield estimate based on grazing.
Table 3. Animal gain and feed intake
grown on corn silage (lbs).
data for yearling heifers
Number of heifers
Total feed intake
Daily feed intake/heifer
41% cottonseed meal
Daily dry matter intake/heifer (estimated)-/
41% cottonseed meal
Dry matter intake/lb gain
and corn grain and
I Based on corn silage containing 28.4% dry matter
cottonseed meal containing 90% dry matter.
Table 4. Animal gain and feed intake data of steers fattened on corn silage
and different levels of concentrate feed (Ib).
Number of steers
Total feed intake
Daily dry matter intake/steer (estimated)-
Corn silage 13.3 11.6
Concentrate mixture 4.1 8.0
Total 17.4 19.6
Dry matter intake/lb gain
Based on corn silage containing 28.4% dry matter
mixture containing 90% dry matter.
and the concentrate
Table 5. Average carcass data of steers fattened on corn
different levels of supplemental concentrate.
1 2 .
Dressing % -/
Fat over ribeye (in)
Ribeye area (sq.in)
% KPH fat
/ Dressing percent =
Dressing percent =
Hot carcass weight
Final leve weight
_ ___ _I ~___~_
This research project has been supported by a number of
commercial organizations. Grateful appreciation is expressed to
the companies and individuals listed below who have contributed
gifts, grants, or assistance.
Asgrow Florida, Plant City, Florida
Henry Boyd, Lakeland Florida
Hollis Brannen, Dundee, Florida
Chain O'Lakes Groves, Inc., Winter Haven, Florida
Chemagro Agr. Div,, Mobay Chemical Corp. Kansas City, Mo.
Tom Christian, Bradenton, Florida
Ciba-Geigy Corporation, Deland, Florida
Cloverdale Dairy Farm, Myakka City, Florida
Dekalb Seed Company, DeKalb, Illinois
Dixie Lime and Stone, Ocala, Florida
E. I. Dupont de Nemours Company, Inc., Wilmington, Delaware
FMC Corporation, Tampa, Florida
Harold Fauver, Sanford, Florida
Florida Irrigation Service, Alturas, Florida
Harry Gause, Limestone, Florida
Gehl Company, West Bend, Wisconsin
Hardee County Agriculture Soil Conservation Service
Charles F. Hinton, Hillsborough County, Florida
International Minerals & Chemical Corporation, Libertyville, Ill.
J & J Hauling, Nocatee, Florida
Monsanto Company, St. Louis, Missouri
C. M. Payne & Son, Inc., Sebring, Florida
Shepard Spreader Service, Plant City, Florida
Smitty Groundhog, Inc., Sanford, Florida