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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #341725

Title: Dairy production systems in the United States: Nutrient budgets and environmental impacts

item Bryant, Ray
item Rotz, Clarence - Al
item Kleinman, Peter
item BJOMEBERG, DAVE - Consultant
item Leytem, April
item Baker, John
item Feyereisen, Gary
item Vadas, Peter
item Bjorneberg, David - Dave

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/12/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: No Interpretive Summary is required for this Abstract. JLB.

Technical Abstract: Across the diversity of US dairy production systems, nutrient management priorities range widely, from feeding regimes to manure handling, storage and application to crop systems. To assess nutrient management and environmental impacts of dairy production systems in the US, we evaluated nutrient budgets at whole farm and field scales for representative dairy systems in California, Idaho, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Dairy farming systems were simulated using the Integrated Farm System Model. The model is well documented and has been widely applied to dairy production systems, simulating crop and pasture production, feed use, manure management and other major activities related to nutrient management of dairy farms. For each production system, whole farm and field scale nutrient budgets were determined over 25 years of local weather conditions, while model performance was assessed by comparing simulated nutrient fate with local observations. Total N emissions, primarily as ammonia, were 40-50% of farm inputs. Ammonia emissions are greater from the farmsteads of western dairies with warmer ambient temperatures and more long-term manure storage, whereas they are primarily from the field soils of eastern dairies. Nitrate leaching was greatest in the more humid conditions of the eastern dairies and was of least concern in the dry regions of California and Idaho. California and Idaho dairies had low phosphorus use efficiency (<50% is exported in milk and animals) due to a reliance upon purchased feed and large amounts of manure export. Phosphorus use efficiency of the eastern dairies was >60%, reflecting better on-farm phosphorus cycling through greater use of on-farm feed production. However, liquid manure systems hampered manure export, resulting in net accumulation of phosphorus in farm soils and greater environmental losses due to erosion. Nutrient budget analyses suggest opportunities for increasing nutrient use efficiency and reducing nutrient losses. Depending on regional climate conditions and management system characteristics, nutrient losses may be mitigated by changes in feeding strategies, manure management technologies, or targeted soil and water conservation practices.