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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #378792

Research Project: Science and Technologies for the Sustainable Management of Western Rangeland Systems

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Land use change and collaborative manureshed management in New Mexico

item Spiegal, Sheri
item WILLIAMSON, JEBEDIAH - New Mexico State University
item Flynn, Kyle
item Buda, Anthony
item Rotz, Clarence - Al
item Kleinman, Peter

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/26/2021
Publication Date: 8/11/2021
Citation: Spiegal, S.A., Williamson, J., Flynn, K.C., Buda, A.R., Rotz, C.A., Kleinman, P.J. 2021. Land use change and collaborative manureshed management in New Mexico. Journal of Environmental Quality. 51(4):602-613.

Interpretive Summary: Optimizing manure management in New Mexico’s dairy industry requires strategic consideration of opportunities to use manure resources. Scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Service sought to quantify the impact of cropland conversion on the potential for sustainable manure management. Although some aspects of cropland change may offer opportunity for expanded manure use in the short-term, over the long-term, sustainable manure management options are constrained by cropland loss.

Technical Abstract: Animal feeding operations across the United States are often located near croplands that could use manure nutrients to enhance production, but a variety of factors preclude the transfer from animal operations to cropping operations. One factor inhibiting such “collaborative manureshed management” is the loss of arable land. New Mexico supports a nationally significant dairy industry, but cropland in the state is limited, and in some landscapes, declining. We examined land use change in the lands surrounding three of the state’s largest dairy clusters in 2008-2019 to assess the role that cropland conversion may play in inhibiting collaborative manureshed management. The three dairy clusters experienced different magnitudes and types of change, and, even as cropland was converted to other uses, new cropland was established from rangeland, opening opportunities for use of manure to improve fertility and physical soil properties. For instance, in the lands surrounding the Dona Ana County dairy cluster, 0.67% of “spreadable land” was converted to developed land, and 0.04% of cropland was converted to rangeland, but 0.34% of rangeland was converted to cropland. Even if the impact of cropland loss to development may be tempered by emergent end uses for manure, over the long-term, full implementation of manureshed management will benefit from farmland preservation in New Mexico.