Submitted to: Proceedings of the Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/25/2005
Publication Date: 1/23/2006
Citation: Rotz, C.A. 2006. Implications of forage management on farm profitability and the environment. In: Silage for Dairy Farms: Growing, Harvesting, Storing and Feeding. Natural Resources Agricultural Engineering Service. p.8-17. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: The management of forage-based farms for dairy production is complex. Software tools can aid decision making by helping integrate the large amount of information that must be considered. Whole-farm simulation is particularly useful for predicting the long term effects of management changes on farm performance, profitability, and environmental impact. Simulation of a representative dairy farm in Pennsylvania illustrated that the production and use of more corn silage, particularly when double cropped with rye silage, can reduce nutrient losses with relatively small effects on farm profitability. Use of a three cutting strategy for alfalfa production with longer regrowth periods between harvests reduced farm net return by $80/cow. Genetic improvement of alfalfa for a 10% increase in fiber digestibility provided up to a $76/cow increase in farm net return. Increasing the cutting height in corn silage harvest improved forage quality, but provided a net loss in annual net return of $12/cow. Mechanical processing provided a more economical means of improving corn silage quality where an assumed 2% increase in milk production increased net return by $42/cow. This farm simulation model is available to producers, and those advising producers, to evaluate and compare the environmental and economic implications of potential farm management changes.