Submitted to: Proceedings of the Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/13/2005
Publication Date: 3/15/2005
Citation: Rotz, C.A. 2005. Manure management choices and whole-farm impact. In Dairy Manure Management: Treatment, Handling, and Community Relations. Proceedings of the Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service. p. 240-248.
Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: Two important considerations in the design and selection of a manure handling system are production costs and the environmental impact of the farm. For the producer, costs and their effect on farm profitability are normally the most important issue. The loss of farm nutrients to the environment, though, is a growing social and political concern. Manure nutrient losses of greatest concern are nitrogen and phosphorus. On many of our farms today, more nutrients are being brought onto the farm in feed and fertilizer than are leaving the farm in animal products or crops sold. This leads to the accumulation of nutrients in the soil and loss to the environment. The development of best management practices for manure handling is complex. Tools are available which help integrate the many factors that must be considered and their interactions with other farm processes. In particular, whole farm simulation provides a relatively fast and inexpensive evaluation or comparison of alternatives in farm management. Simulations illustrate that the use of long-term storage systems reduce farm profitability and they may not provide large reductions in nutrient losses to the environment. Direct injection of manure into soil may increase manure-handling costs, but this increase can be offset by fertilizer savings. Irrigation systems may reduce manure application costs, but this savings likely will be offset through increased fertilizer costs or reduced crop yields due to the additional N lost. In the future, low emission barn floors and enclosed manure storages may be used to further reduce volatile N loss, but this technology will normally cost more than the fertilizer value of the nitrogen retained.