Colombia

Carimagua site (Colombia)

CORPOICA

Contact points

Miguel A. Arango marangoa(at)corpoica.org.co
Carlos E. Gonzalez-Orozco cegonzalez(at)corpoica.org.co
Mauricio  Álvarez de León malvarez(at)corpoica.org.co
Jaime Humberto Bernal Riobo jhbernal(at)corpoica.org.co
Nubia Rodriguez nrodriguez(at)corpoica.org.co
Otoniel Pérez operez(at)corpoica.org.co

Km 17 Vía Puerto Lopez,
Meta, COLOMBIA

Project Overview

The livestock production is the main economic activity in the Orinoquia region.  In Orinoquia region cattle feeding is based on low quality native and introduced pastures with high levels of degradation. Research has been oriented to find methods to sustainable intensify livestock production. Those activities include identification of different adapted cattle breed, establishment and management of improved pastures, crops and pastures rotation, reversing pasture degradation and evaluation of silvopastoral arrangements.

The aim is to generate and validate technologies for the cattle production systems in the Orinoquia towards the development of food sustainable production systems and eco-physiological and reproductive management.

The main contribution of this research will be the reduction of production cost of cattle feeding, estimation of carbon footprint, and the development of strategies of adapting to climate change and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Corpoica and CIAT have been developing an integrative livestock research initiative in Carimagua, Meta (see site description) since 2011. The livestock management research integrates animal and agricultural systems with the aim of improving sustainability and competitiveness of forage-based livestock production in the Colombian savannas. The rotational grazing experiment is taking place in an area of 70 hectares which is sub-divided into 27 paddocks that can have areas between 1.4 to 2.8 hectares. There are also areas (2.8 hectares) established with trees such as Piptadenia opacifolia, Cassia grandis y Acacia mangium. There are 35 commercial Cebu cattle (inter-breed with BON type bulls) involved in the testing of the pastures rotational practices. The grazing rotation practices are carried out on two paddocks: The first one only has Brachiaria dictyoneura (Control) and the second one adds supplements to the Brachiaria dictyoneura (refer to it as treatment 1). The livestock is rotated every six days among paddocks. The animal variables assessed as part of the production and management measurements are productivity (number of animals per hectare), reproduction rate, health condition, parasites management.   The main pasture management practices involve fertilization and tillage as well as silage production from crops (rice, corn, soybean, and forage sorghum) as a method for restoring pasture lands.

Within the current research, there is not a native savanna management treatment but we are currently working in a proposal to include it in our research agenda.

Implementation plans

The information from field sites has been collected during the current project activities and would be available for developing and testing remote sensing and modeling tools proposed by GEOGLAM. It is a plan to continue gathering information during the next years. The proposed activities will be link with the GEOGLAMM RAPP approaching to map the dynamics of the nature and the quality of available plant biomass as well as animals that feed on the biomass.

Monitoring forages productivity (quantity and quality) based on intensive field sampling would validate the remote sensing products.

The methodology to follow in this task is being developed in Argentina by staff from the IFEVA Agronomy Faculty (Grigera et al., 2007a; Grigera et al., 2007b; Oesterheld et al., 2011; Oyarzabal et al., 2011; Paruelo et al., 2011; Irisarri et al., 2012).

Collaborations and stakeholder involvements

Instituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales (IDEAM)
Ministerio de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural de Colombia (MADR)
CSIRO, Canberra. Technical support on imagery.
CIAT, Palmira. Access to infrastructure.
IFEVA, Buenos Aires. Technical support on monitoring systems of pastures.

Site description and location

Carimagua is a research station part of the Colombian Corporation of Agricultural Research (CORPOICA). Carimagua is located 300 km east from Villavicencio (Capital of Meta). It is situated on the eastern plains of the Colombian savannas (see Figure 1). It geographical location is 4˚ 30ˈ N and 7˚ 30ˈ E. The approximate extension of Carimagua is 22.000 hectares. The elevation gradient is between 150 and 175 m.s.n.m. Mean annual precipitation is 2400 mm year and mean annual temperature is 27 ˚C. However, during the hottest months (January-March) maximum temperatures can reach 30-35 ˚C. During the coolest months (June-July) temperature ranges from 24-26˚C.

Figure 1. Map of the geographical location of Carimagua in Colombia (source: Albert J Gutierrez, CI La Libertad, Corpoica).

Figure 1. Map of the geographical location of Carimagua in Colombia (source: Albert J Gutierrez, CI La Libertad, Corpoica).

The geology is mainly from the Quaternary sedimentary origins. The geological units in Carimagua are mainly composed of clay, silt and sand deposits. There is a lake  in Carimagua located in the gallery forest of the savannas in the Llanos Orientales of Colombia (The area is known in Spanish as alti-llanura plana or flatland savannas) which shows the late Holocene environmental history. The main vegetation types in Carimagua are native grasslands, introduced pastures, swamp forest, gallery forest, savanna shrubs and trees (see Figure 2). The climate in the region is considered bimodal because it has a dry season between December and February. The hydrological network is extremely interconnected because it has large amount of rivers that keep the system wet most of the year because of rain falls during nine months of the year (March-Nov).

Figure 2. Satellite view of the boundaries (red polygons) and the major types of landscapes in Carimagua such as flat savannas, gallery forest and grasslands. Tags indicating paddocks 1, 2, 3 where we will conduct ground validations.

Figure 2. Satellite view of the boundaries (red polygons) and the major types of landscapes in Carimagua such as flat savannas, gallery forest and grasslands. Tags indicating paddocks 1, 2, 3 where we will conduct ground validations.

The vegetation of the landscapes are composed of pastures, native savanna, gallery forest and crops with some trees. The majority of the land area in Carimagua (aprox 22.000 ha) is covered by native savanna (74%) (Alvarez et al 2004). Pastures cover approximately 12% and the rest area is occupied by water, forest and various crops. The pastures in Carimagua are typically composed of species such as Brachiaria decumbens, Brachiaria humidicola subspp. dictyoneura and Brachiaria humidicola (see some examples of Carimagua pastures below).

Figure 3. Photos of different types of pastures in Carimagua

Figure 3. Photos of different types of pastures in Carimagua

In situ-Observations

Field data

Available forage (quantity and quality) for animal consumption has been collected since 2011 in two contrasting weather conditions (dry  -Figure 4-  and rainy seasons) for lote 1 (see figure 2). Therefore, we will focus future fieldwork activities and reconstruction of historical pastures management data for lote 1. In 2015 it started a more intense biomass sampling. The available forage is estimated base on the “clip and weigh” method (at grazing height) in 20 random points.

Figure 4. Status of pastures in Lote 1 during the dry season in February 2016

Figure 4. Status of pastures in Lote 1 during the dry season in February 2016

Remote sensing data

Initial data exploration about greenness temporal patterns since 2000 using MODIS-NDVI on three experimental sites within Carimagua (paddocks or lotes 1, 2 and 3) are shown in figure 2. Despite of it close proximity, we can see how the vegetation greenness signal differ in parallelism particularly between lotes 1 and 3. Ground information confirms that lote 1 is composed of Brachiaria dictyoneura and lote 3 is composed of Brachiaria decumbens. Both species have different morphology, leaf coloration and ground coverage. It proves that the NDVI signal is responding positively to different pastures types and temporal scales. This might also suggest that animal productivity could change across time if such patterns remain. In the future we need to analyze the spatio-temporal patterns of pastures productivity (forage above-ground net primary productivity or ANPP), as well as find the correlations to economic variables of livestock productivity.

Figure 5. Time series (2000-2016) with patterns of vegetation greenness measured remotely for Lotes 1, 2 and 3 in Carimagua. MOD13Q1_250m_16days_NDVI.

Figure 5. Time series (2000-2016) with patterns of vegetation greenness measured remotely for Lotes 1, 2 and 3 in Carimagua. MOD13Q1_250m_16days_NDVI.

 Agency Databases

Historical datasets about net primary productivity and spatial patterns of pastures rotation in relation to livestock productivity in Carimagua (Alvarez et al., 2004). Soil physical and chemical properties has been collected as well as greenhouse gas emissions data.

EO Data requirements

  • MODIS
  • Landsat 5–TM
  • Landsat-7 +ETM
  • Landsat-8
  • VIIRS reflectance and products when available
  • Sentinel

Project- source material

Alvarez, de Leon M., Perez, L. O., Parra, J.L. (2004) Informe recomendaciones tecnicas y administrativas, para el ganado comercial del centro de investigaciones Carimagua. CORPOICA, CI La Libertad.

Grigera, G., Oesterheld, M., Pacin, F. (2007a) Monitoring forage production for farmers´ decision making. Agricultural Systems 94: 637-648.

Grigera, G., Oesterheld, M., Durante, M., Pacin, F. (2007b) Evaluacion y seguimiento de la productividad forrajera. Revista Argentina de Produccion Animal 27: 137-148.

Oyarzabal, M., Oesterheld, M., Grigera, G. (2011) Bases ecológicas y tecnológicas para el manejo de pastizales. Proyecto FPTA 175.

Oesterheld, M., Paruelo, J.M., Oyarzabal, M. (2011) Estimacion de la productividad primaria neta aérea a partir de diferencias de biomasa y de integración de la radiación absorbida. Capitulo IV. Proyecto FTPA 175.

Paruelo, J.M., Oyarzabal, M., Oesterheld, M. (2011) El seguimiento de los recursos forrajeros mediante sensores remotos: bases y aplicaciones. Capitulo IX. Proyecto FTPA 175.