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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #402097

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

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Reconnecting animal and crop production to reduce fertilizer reliance

item Spiegal, Sheri
item Kleinman, Peter
item Bryant, Ray
item Dell, Curtis
item Flynn, Kyle
item MEINEN, R - Pennsylvania State University
item MEREDITH, G - University Of Nebraska
item BITMAN, S - Agriculture And Agri-Food Canada

Submitted to: International Nitrogen Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/31/2022
Publication Date: 10/22/2022
Citation: Spiegal, S.A., Kleinman, P.J., Bryant, R., Dell, C., Flynn, C., Meinen, R., Meredith, G., Bitman, S. 2022. Reconnecting animal and crop production to reduce fertilizer reliance. Symposium Proceedings. Abstract.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Decades of agricultural intensification have resulted in the separation of crop and animal agriculture in many nations, such that the production of animal feeds and animal feeding are conducted on separate farms, which are often great distances from each other. Animal feed production relies heavily on commercial fertilizers while feeding operations produce vast amounts of concentrated manures that must be managed. Consequently, certain places have a surplus of manure nutrients while others are in nutrient deficit and require fertilizers for crop and range production. Recently, the global shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian-Ukrainian conflict have interacted with these structural problems, laying bare vulnerabilities in agricultural supply chains and exacerbating food prices and concerns over food security. Queue the "Manureshed" Initiative, which develops and tests innovative approaches to recycle nutrients between animal and crop production systems, turning manure, which can be a liability to animal producers, into a resource for crop producers. Led by scientists in the Long-Term Agroecoystem Research Network (LTAR), this comprehensive research program takes advantage of extensive data systems of the federal governments of the United States and Canada, stakeholder networks, and innovative technologies to identify and promote opportunities for manure nutrient recycling across agricultural supply chains. We envision coordinated manureshed systems powered by diverse actors who collaboratively manage manure resources based on system-level optimization, and who prioritize the removal of barriers to manure recycling. In this presentation, we discuss the manureshed vision, the social networks underlying manureshed management, barriers to manure recycling, and examples of industry-specific solutions to overcoming those barriers. We will close with a discussion of how this initiative may apply in and among nations in Europe.