Reducing Phosphorus Runoff from Dairy Farms

  • Bosch D
  • Wolfe M
  • Knowlton K
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Abstract

Phosphorus (P) runoff from manure can lead to eutrophication of surface water and algae growth. This study evaluates the impacts of alternative P reduction practices on dairy farm net returns and on potential P runoff. The P control practices include dairy herd nutrient management, crop nutrient management, and runoff and erosion control. Four farms representative of dairies in the Virginia Shenandoah Valley are simulated including dairies with and without supplementary broiler enterprises and with average and below average land area. A mathematical programming model was developed to predict farm production and net returns and the GLEAMS model was used to predict potential P runoff. The farms are evaluated under four scenarios: Scenario 1, no constraint on P runoff with access to crop nutrient, runoff and erosion control strategies but no access to dairy herd nutrient control strategies; Scenario 2, no constraint on P runoff with access to all crop and dairy herd nutrient control strategies; Scenario 3, constraint on P runoff with access to crop nutrient, runoff and erosion control strategies but no access to dairy herd nutrient control strategies; and Scenario 4, constraint on P runoff with access to all crop and dairy herd nutrient control strategies. Under Scenario 2, the herd nutrient control strategies increase milk output per cow and net returns on both farms and reduce P content of manure and P runoff. Under Scenario 3, limiting P runoff reduces farm returns by 1 and 3% on the average and small farms, respectively. Under Scenario 4, the P runoff constraint is less costly, reducing returns by less than 1% on both farms. Animal nutrient control strategies should be an important part of pollution control policies and programs for livestock intensive watersheds.

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Authors

  • Darrell J. Bosch

  • Mary Leigh Wolfe

  • Katharine F. Knowlton

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