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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Research Continues on How to Reduce Pollution and Save Money for Dairy Farms

Authors
item Powell, J Mark
item Russelle, Michael

Submitted to: Agriview
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: December 12, 2002
Publication Date: December 12, 2002
Citation: POWELL, J.M., RUSSELLE, M.P. RESEARCH CONTINUES ON HOW TO REDUCE POLLUTION AND SAVE MONEY FOR DAIRY FARMS. AGRIVIEW. 2002. p. C11.

Technical Abstract: Farm surveys indicate that about two-thirds of Wisconsin dairy farmers depend on frequent or daily hauling to apply manure to their fields. Manure applied to cropland in this way is subject to runoff and nitrate leaching losses. A lot of the nitrogen contained in manure can also be lost as ammonia gas, both in the barn and after manure has been applied to fields. These losses of nitrogen reduce the value and reliability of the manure as a fertilizer replacement. Nitrogen lost from the farm may also impair other ecosystems or water quality. Two USDA-Agricultural Research Service scientists, Mark Powell and Michael Russelle, are trying to determine how much nitrogen is lost from a 'daily haul' manure handling system, and how these losses vary during the year. The masts around the plots at the US Dairy Forage Research Farms off Hwy 78 capture the ammonia so they can discover how much manure nitrogen ends up in the atmosphere. They also installed 60 drainage lysimeters in the plots to measure nitrate leaching. Based on his experience in farming research in Africa, Powell had the idea that 'direct deposit' of manure by the livestock could help preserve nitrogen in the soil. Some African farmers corral their livestock at night to build up soil fertility. Powell and Russelle think that more nitrogen from 'direct deposit' manure will be conserved because it will enter the soil by seepage or hoof action. If nitrogen is conserved, farmers will be able to rely on manure's fertilizer value - saving them money and time - time they would have spent hauling manure from the barn. In a year or so, the scientists will be able to draw some firm conclusions about this experiment. Until then, they'll continue to collect water and air samples - come rain or shine, snow or bugs, mud or ice.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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