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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #302022

Research Project: Multifunctional Farms and Landscapes to Enhance Ecosystem Services

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Assessing the land resource capacity for pasture-based dairy farming in the Northeast

item Egan Jr, John
item Goslee, Sarah

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/25/2014
Publication Date: 2/4/2014
Citation: Egan Jr, J.F., Goslee, S.C. 2014. Assessing the land resource capacity for pasture-based dairy farming in the Northeast[Abstract]. Northeast Pasture Consortium. p 2.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Research has demonstrated that pasture-based dairy farming can offer many potential benefits for farmer incomes, animal welfare, and environmental quality. However, a common criticism of pasture-based dairies is that relative to confinement production, they produce less milk per acre of farmland, so they may not be able to provide dairy products for a large human population. Most comparisons of the land efficiency of pasture-based and confinement dairies have been made at the farm or field scale. Therefore, these estimates do not take into account constraints that may exist at a regional scale in terms of land resources available for producing the range of annual and perennial crops that comprise dairy rations. In this project, we are assessing the land resource capacity of the 13-state Northeast region to produce milk using confinement and pasture-based animal rations. Most counties in the Northeast have more land suitable for pasture and hay production than for annual crop production. Our preliminary analysis indicates that when the proportions of perennial and arable land resources in the Northeast are taken into account, pasture-based systems may be substantially more land efficient than previously assumed.