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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Strategies to Improve Profitability of Organic Dairy Herds in the Upper Midwest

Location: Soil Management Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1) Develop practical strategies for Midwest organic dairy producers to enhance pasture production. 2) Evaluate the economic, production, and environmental outcomes of summer shade and winter housing strategies for organic dairy cattle. 3) Assess dairy cattle health and management strategies during a transition to organic production and in subsequent years. 4) Disseminate extension information and evaluate differences of best management practices (forages, housing, and health) for organic and transitioning organic producers to enhance profitability.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
ARS will be addressing the soil health aspects of enhancing pasture production through forage production and supplemental systems.


3.Progress Report:

The objectives of this project are to:.
1)develop practical strategies for Midwest organic dairy producers to enhance pasture production;.
2)evaluate the economic, production, and environmental outcomes of summer shade and winter housing strategies for organic dairy cattle;.
3)assess dairy cattle health and management strategies during a transition to organic production and in subsequent years;.
4)disseminate extension information and evaluate differences of best management practices (forages, housing, and health) for organic and transitioning organic producers to enhance profitability. Field work was initiated in May 2013; treatment fields were mapped by GPS coordinate system and soil sampling locations were chosen. Plant biomass sampling before grazing began June 2013 and was continually monitored as dairy cows were moved through each system. Preliminary observations indicated that treatment fields or cow grazing groups will have to be resized and reseeded, because pasture production was insufficient in replicate one to support the number of cows in the treatment areas. In the other two replicates there was too much production for proper grazing management. Tillage of an additional field was completed and a 20 treatment comparison of pasture grass mixtures was established at the end of July; nitrogen balance in soil and plant to be monitored over two growing seasons was initiated. This additional plot work will allow the identification of appropriate mixes to be used in on-farm demonstrations.


Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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