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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #361244

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

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Environmental impacts of dairy production systems in the changing climate of the Northeast

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 - Pennsylvania State University
item SALAS, WILLIAM - Applied Geosolutions, Llc
item THOMA, GREG - University Of Arkansas
item JOLLIET, OLIVIER - University Of Michigan

Submitted to: Waste to Worth Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/14/2019
Publication Date: 4/22/2019
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 impacts of dairy production systems in the changing climate of the Northeast. Waste to Worth Conference,April 22-26,Minneapolis,Minnesota. p. 1.

Interpretive Summary: No Interpretive Summary is required for this Proceedings/Symposium. JLB.

Technical Abstract: To meet the nutritional needs of a growing population, dairy producers must increase milk production while minimizing farm environmental impacts. As we look to the future, management practices must also be adapted to maintain production under projected climate change. To plan for the future, better information is needed on practices that can reduce emissions from the farm and adapt to changes in the climate while maintaining or improving production and profitability. We conducted a comprehensive assessment of the effects of climate change on both the productivity and environmental performance of farms as influenced by strategies to reduce emissions and adapt to the changing climate. A cradle-to-farm gate life cycle assessment was conducted using farm-scale process-based modeling and climate projections for high and low emission scenarios. Environmental considerations included the carbon footprint of the milk produced and reactive N and P losses from the farm. We found that the environmental impact of the three representative dairy farms generally increased in the near future (2050) if no mitigation measures were taken. Overall, feed production was maintained as decreases in corn grain yield were compensated by increases in forage yields. Adaptation of the cropping system through changes in planting and harvest dates and crop variety led to a smaller reduction in corn grain yield, but the detrimental effects of climate change could not be fully negated. Adoption of farm-specific beneficial management practices substantially reduced the greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient losses of the farms in current climate conditions and stabilized the environmental impact in future climate conditions, while maintaining feed and milk production. Thus, with appropriate management changes, our dairy farms can become more sustainable under current climate and better prepared to adapt to future climate variability.