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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #360623

Research Project: Sustainable Intensification of Crop and Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems at Multiple Scales

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Environmental benefits of alternatives in dairy farm management in the changing climate of the northeastern United States

item VELTMAN, KARIN - University Of Michigan
item Rotz, Clarence - Al
item CHASE, LARRY - Cornell University
item COOPER, JOYCE - University Of Washington
item FOREST, CHRIS - Pennsylvania State University
item INGRAHAM, PETE - Applied Geosolutions, Llc
item IZAURRALDE, R. CESAR - University Of Maryland
item JONES, CURTIS - University Of Maryland
item NICHOLAS, ROBERT - Pennsylvania State University
item RUARK, MATT - University Of Wisconsin
item SALAS, WILLIAM - Applied Geosolutions, Llc
item THOMA, GREG - University Of Arkansas
item JOLLIET, OLIVIER - University Of Michigan

Submitted to: American Dairy Science Association Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/18/2019
Publication Date: 6/24/2019
Citation: Veltman, K., Rotz, C.A., Chase, L., Cooper, J., Forest, C., Ingraham, P., Izaurralde, R., Jones, C.D., Nicholas, R., Ruark, M., Salas, W., Thoma, G., Jolliet, O. 2019. Environmental benefits of alternatives in dairy farm management in the changing climate of the northeastern United States[abstract]. American Dairy Science Association Proceedings. P. 102.

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

Technical Abstract: To meet the nutritional needs of a growing population, dairy producers must increase milk production while minimizing farm-gate environmental impacts. As we look to the future, management practices must also be adapted to projected climate change. A comprehensive assessment was made of the effects of climate change on both the productivity and environmental performance of farms as influenced by strategies to adapt to the changing climate. Production systems were evaluated using three representative northern U.S. dairy farms: a 1500 cow farm in New York, a 150 cow farm in Wisconsin and a 50 cow farm in southern Pennsylvania. The farms were simulated using farm-scale process-based modeling and climate projections for high and low greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Environmental impacts of the farms, which included reactive nitrogen and carbon footprints and phosphorous runoff, generally increased in the near future (2050) if no mitigation measures were taken. Overall, feed production was maintained as decreases in corn grain yields were compensated by increases in forage yields. Adaptation of the cropping systems through changes in planting and harvest dates and crop varieties reduced the reduction in corn grain yields, but the detrimental effects of climate change were not fully negated. Adoption of farm-specific beneficial management practices, including changes in diet, manure management and cropping practices, substantially reduced the greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient losses of dairy farms in current climate conditions and stabilized the environmental impact in future climate conditions, while maintaining feed and milk production. This modeling exercise illustrates that sustainable dairy production systems can be maintained in the future climate of the Northeast with appropriate management changes.