Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Research Project #425147


Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Project Number: 8070-13000-014-04-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 15, 2013
End Date: Feb 14, 2017

1) Develop a network that monitors carbon (C), nitrogen (N), water, and energy storage and fluxes across each phase of the dairy production system. 2) Use collected data to develop baseline C, N, water, and energy fluxes across the dairy production system, establish a standardized repository with the National Agricultural Library, and improve existing, commonly used process models. 3) Use the developed database and process models to determine opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and/or conserve C, N, and water in soil; enhance the methods and databases for Life Cycle Inventory and Life Cycle Impact Assessment of dairy farms with special focus on C and N fluxes; and conduct economic analysis of mitigation or adaptation methods and identify and evaluate barriers to adoption. 4) Enhance the capability of existing decision-support tools which empower producers to reduce the environmental impact of milk production; and improve extension and education efforts to producers, policy makers, agricultural industry, media, and the public at large. 5) Create multi-institution, undergraduate, and graduate education programs that train the next generation of agriculture and climate scientists.

The research objectives will be addressed in four distinct phases. Phase 1 (Preparation Phase) will include: an inventory and verification of long-term and on-farm research sites that will be part of the field network (e.g. Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial, USDA-DFRC Prairie du Sac Monitoring Facility, Discovery Farms, etc.); agreement upon standardized sampling methods for C, N, and water; establishment of new research for novel experimentation in mitigation and adaptation; establishment of protocols for data inclusion in data library; establishment of protocols for data inclusion in the National Agricultural Library and use in model development; development of a framework for integrating research and modeling into education and extension programs; and scheduling of a national conference. Phase 2 (Monitoring Phase) will include measuring C, N, and water fluxes at the cow barn, manure handling and processing, and field levels. Long-term research plots will be monitored intensively to establish baseline fluxes, and on-farm sites will be monitored strategically to improve data robustness. In Phase 3 (Data Management Phase), newly collected data will be used for validation and calibration of commonly used soil, crop, and farm models. Improved model output will be incorporated into Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Impact methods to improve the prediction of C and N fluxes. Phase 4 (Data Interpretation Phase) will involve interpreting field, model, and Life Cycle Assessment results to select management practices for mitigation and adaptation and evaluate them for economic and social feasibility. Each phase will significantly overlap in time and include a feedback system to integrate outcomes from each phase into previous phases. Education and Extension will occur throughout the project. Novel Extension programming through University Extension and eXtension will be developed for each project phase. Work with the Council of 1890 Universities will enhance undergraduate and graduate research and education in agricultural and life sciences.