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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #363859

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

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Optimizing management approaches to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff from dairy farms in Central Pennsylvania

item BARNES, RYAN - Pennsylvania State University
item GALL, HEATHER - Pennsylvania State University
item Rotz, Clarence - Al
item Veith, Tameria - Tamie
item ELLIOTT, HERSCHEL - Pennsylvania State University
item TYSON, JOHN - Pennsylvania State University
item WATSON, JOHN - Pennsylvania State University

Submitted to: American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/20/2019
Publication Date: 7/9/2019
Citation: Barnes, R., Gall, H.E., Rotz, C.A., Veith, T.L., Elliott, H.A., Tyson, J.T., Watson, J.E. 2019. Optimizing management approaches to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff from dairy farms in Central Pennsylvania[abstract]. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. p. 1.

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

Technical Abstract: The Chesapeake Bay is the largest and most diverse estuary in the United States. Since the 1960’s, the health of the Bay has declined due to excess nutrient and sediment loads, largely from agricultural activities, resulting in large losses of aquatic habitat, wide-spread eutrophication, and hypoxic zones. In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency established the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) to limit nutrient and sediment discharges to the Bay by 2025. Currently, state conservation programs in Pennsylvania (PA) are actively promoting adoption of riparian buffers to meet TMDL goals. However, given the extensive maintenance that buffers require, this may not be the most appropriate best management practice (BMP), particularly for dairy farmers who are facing significant economic challenges. We evaluated potential benefits and tradeoffs for commonly adopted BMPs in the Bay watershed, including riparian buffers, streamside fencing, cover crops, and manure storage. We developed nine representative dairy farm operations for Mifflin County and conducted simulations using the Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM) to compare nutrient runoff and economic feasibility for each of the BMP adoption scenarios. The nine farms include confined, organic, and Amish farming practices for dairy herds ranging in size from 35 to 150 cows. Results will be shared directly with farmers and landowners in the study county through extension workshops to help inform adoption of the selected BMPs of interest. Further, the results may help inform policies for implementing BMPs on dairy farms across the Chesapeake Bay watershed to help meet the 2025 TMDLs.