Submitted to: Animal Agriculture and the Environment Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 14, 2005
Publication Date: January 5, 2006
Citation: Rotz, C.A., Veith, T.L. 2006. Managing the farm for economic and environmental sustainability. In Proceedings The John M. Airy Symposium: Visions for Animal Agriculture and the Environment. p. 1-12. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: The environmental impact of farms is a growing concern to our society. Technologies and strategies are available, and others are being developed, that can improve nutrient management and reduce losses to our environment. There is often a net cost to the producer for implementing these practices though, which exacerbates the ongoing problem of maintaining farm profitability. A comprehensive whole-farm assessment is needed to evaluate and select best management practices that provide both economic and environmental sustainability. Computer simulation of farming systems provides a relatively fast, inexpensive, and low risk procedure for conducting this type of assessment. The Integrated Farm System Model is a new farm simulation tool that provides an integrated look at all the major components in beef cattle production including crop establishment, growth, harvest, storage, grazing, feeding, manure production, and nutrient losses. The model provides a research and teaching tool for evaluating and comparing the long-term performance, economics, and environmental impact of various beef production systems. Further work is needed to thoroughly evaluate or verify this model and similar software tools in their representation of actual production systems. Further model developments can be made to address a broader range of production and environmental aspects of farms and their effect on surrounding watersheds. Perhaps the greatest need though is to apply our current tools in developing and refining more efficient, cost effective, and environmentally friendly beef production systems.