Leucaena intensive silvopastoral system: The CIPAV experience in Colombia
Keynote paper presented at the International Leucaena Conference, 1‒3 November 2018, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
The Center for Research in Sustainable Systems of Agricultural Production (CIPAV) has worked since 1991 on the establishment and management of intensive silvopastoral systems (ISPS) involving leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala). The initial work was carried out in the Valle del Cauca department, and afterwards in other regions of Colombia and abroad. This document presents the main characteristics of the work carried out on various farms in the tropical lowlands of Colombia, located between 0 and 1,300 masl, with 22‒28 °C average annual temperature. The leucaena ISPS integrate this species with grasses, mainly Cynodon plectostachyus, C. nlemfuensis and Megathyrsus maximus, although other species have been used, such as Dichanthium annulatum, Urochloa humidicola (including cv. Llanero, formerly classified as Brachiaria dictyoneura) and Urochloa hybrids. Leucaena is planted at densities in excess of 10,000 plants per ha, in rows 1 to 1.5 m apart with 0.3‒0.6 m between plants within rows. These ISPS are grazed by Bos indicus and B. taurus cattle and their crosses, in beef, dairy (tropical lowlands) and dual-purpose systems. The proper management of an ISPS requires a rotational grazing strategy with each paddock grazed for 1‒3 days (ideally 1 day) followed by a 42‒46 day rest period. Stocking rates are 2.5‒4.5 head/ha. Average daily gains by beef cattle are 650‒800 g/head (2‒3 kg/ha/d). Production in dairy systems (tropical lowlands) fluctuates between 5 and 14 L milk/cow/d, depending on genetic makeup, season (dry or rainy) and supplementation, with up to 17,000 L milk/ha/yr. Information from various farms that use ISPS is presented including main ecological characteristics and animal performance.