The U.S. Department of Agriculture supports agricultural research by encouraging the formation of multidisciplinary and multi-institutional teams. Project teams focus on agricultural issues related to profitability and economic and environmental sustainability. Recently, a U.S. Department of Agriculture project to study the impact of equine management and feeding practices on the environment was approved. The project, " NE-1041: Environmental Impacts of Equine Operations," is a Northeast regional project but includes research and extension faculty from across the country. The project team includes representatives from Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Vermont. The goal of this project is to incorporate the best available data on horse management and feeding practices, manure storage and disposal, pasture and cropping management, soil and environmental quality, erosion control, and farm management practices to minimize negative impacts of equine operations on the environment. The specific objectives of the project are to assess existing data on environmental impacts of equine operations, identify gaps in current knowledge, conduct research when data are lacking or nonexistent, and incorporate existing and newly generated data into a systematic description of nutrient flow in soil, water, and air occurring on horse farms. Estimates will be made of pathogen transports and nitrogen (N)-, phosphorus (P)-, potassium (K)-, and energy (carbon)-loss potentials. In addition to identifying system-wide losses on equine farms, another goal of the project is to assist farmers and agricultural professionals in determining the value of equine management practices and other accepted best management practices.
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