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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Kimberly, Idaho » Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research » Research » Research Project #431262

Research Project: Improving Management Practices for Irrigated Western Cropping and Dairy Systems to Contribute to Sustainability and Improve Air Quality

Location: Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research

Project Number: 2054-12000-011-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jul 13, 2016
End Date: Jul 12, 2021

Objective:
Objective 1: Assess organic and inorganic fertilizer forms and application methods as management options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing nutrient use efficiencies, and optimizing crop yields for irrigated western cropping systems. Subobjective 1A: Identify effects of fertilizer source, timing and nitrification and urease inhibitors on GHG emissions, nutrient cycling, and field scale nutrient budgets. Subobjective 1B: Identify effects of manure application rate and frequency on GHG emissions, nutrient cycling, and field scale nutrient budgets. Subobjective 1C: Determine the efficacy of cover crops to reduce offsite transport of soil nutrients in a dairy forage crop rotation receiving manure. Subobjective 1D: Evaluate N supply and timing effects on corn yields and nitrogen use. Subobjective 1E: Determine the interacting effects of manure and fertilizer on soil N mineralization. Subobjective 1F: Determine the effects of manure incorporation method and timing on the emissions of CO2 and N2O from moist soils subjected to diurnal freeze-thaw cycles. Objective 2: Investigate the occurrence and transport of antibiotic drugs, antibiotic-resistance genes, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in irrigated western cropping systems to provide baseline data needed to develop mitigation strategies. Subobjective 2A: Monitor antibiotics in irrigation return waters to better understand their persistence in the environment and potential movement from areas under intensive dairy and crop production. Subobjective 2B: Conduct an inter-laboratory validation of assays to screen selected antibiotic resistance determinants. Subobjective 2C: Determine the influence of dairy manure and compost application rate, soil temperature, and soil moisture content on the occurrence of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes in soil. Subobjective 2D: Evaluate the effect of annual dairy manure applications, as well as crop rotation, on the distribution of antibiotic resistance genes in the soil profile. Subobjective 2E: Determine the prevalence of antibiotic resistant indicator bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes in plots irrigated with diluted dairy wastewater with and without added copper sulfate. Objective 3: Improve measurement and prediction of ammonia and GHG emissions and transport from western dairy systems to improve GHG inventories and evaluate the mitigation potential of management practices. Subobjective 3A: Improve emission factors for NH3 and GHG emissions from western dairy production systems and improve/validate equations and process based models for estimating emissions. Subobjective 3B: Improve understanding of impacts of NH3 losses on regional air quality.

Approach:
Sustainable crop and dairy production requires efficient nutrient use. Modern dairy farms produce more milk with fewer inputs per unit of milk than farms in the past. Crop yields continue to increase with improved genetics and management. At the same time, nutrient losses to the environment can negatively impact air and water quality. This is especially a concern when concentration of animal production increases the amount of nutrients brought into an area. This project addresses environmental and agronomic issues associated with irrigated crop and dairy production. Specifically, the research seeks to increase crop nutrient use efficiency, minimize nutrient losses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and reduce occurrence and transport of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance bacteria. The long-term goal of this project is to develop tools to predict nutrient budgets, antibiotic resistance and emissions in the dairy farm-crop production system. Project objectives will be achieved through several ongoing and new studies conducted at different scales to improve our understanding and management of nutrients, ammonia and GHG emissions, and antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes in dairy and crop production. Research for Objective 1 encompasses six studies evaluating effects of commercial fertilizer with and without nitrification and urease inhibitors, dairy manure, dairy manure compost, and cover crops on gas emissions, soil nutrient cycling, and crop nutrient uptake. Objective 2 contains five studies to evaluate the existence, fate and transport of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes in soils and surface water. Objective 3 will utilize existing and new data to improve and validate established farm system models that predict nutrient cycling and gas emissions.