Submitted to: Florida Cattleman and Livestock Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/10/2008
Publication Date: 6/15/2008
Citation: Sigua, G.C. 2008. Managing beef cattle operations to protect lakes and rivers. The Florida Cattleman and Livestock Journal. 72(9):86-88. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The long-term research goal of the Subtropical Agricultural Research Station at Brooksville, Florida, is to integrate the environment, plant, and animal genetic resources into a sustainable beef cattle agro-ecosystem for the subtropical United States. Properly managed livestock operations contribute negligible loads of total phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) to shallow groundwater and surface water. Overall, there was no buildup of soil total P and N in bahiagrass-based pasture. These observations may help to renew the focus on improving fertilizer efficiency in subtropical beef cattle systems, and maintaining a balance of P and/or N removed to P and/or N added to ensure healthy forage growth and minimize P or N runoff. Contrary to early perception, forage-based animal production systems with grazing are not likely one of the major sources of non-point source P pollution that are contributing to the degradation of water quality in lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and ground water aquifers, but perennially grass-covered pastures are associated with a number of environmental benefits. Continuous grass cover leads to the accumulation of soil organic matter, sequestering carbon in the soil and thereby reducing the potential carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere.