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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Research Project #438553

Research Project: Improving the Environmental Footprint of Livestock Forage Production Systems by Optimizing Alfalfa Production

Location: Dairy Forage Research

Project Number: 5090-12210-001-29-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2019
End Date: Aug 31, 2021

The overall goal of the project is to examine alfalfa production systems and feed mix rations and optimize production methods and feedstock blends to meet producer’s environmental, livestock, and economic expectations.

The first approach will be to document current alfalfa production systems in the region; collecting and analyzing such data as tillage, chemical inputs, yields, and post-harvest activities. Using this data, the second approach will be to develop likely regional scenarios that would reduce impacts over current production systems. This approach will utilize data collected on alfalfa systems and reference data for other crops in the production rotation, as found in literature and life cycle analysis (LCA) databases. The third approach will be to analyze these likely production scenarios using LCA, soil carbon modeling, and economic analysis to determine the greenhouse gas, soil quality, water and financial impacts of the scenarios tested. In addition, a regional Extension outreach effort for alfalfa and dairy producers will be implemented to introduce these sustainability concepts and the potential for improving their production systems using the data from this study.