Manure allocation on large-scale confinement animal feeding operations is a complex management decision. This study assesses the cost effectiveness and the risk of P loss associated with various combinations of manure management options for a typical midsized dairy farm in New York State. The farm has 587 adult dairy cows (Bos taurus) and 430 young animals (1202 animal units). Fifty-three fields (26 cornfields and 27 pastures) ranging in size from 1 to 15 ha are available to receive livestock manure. Morgan's Soil Test P values range from 1.1 to 87.3 kg ha-1 (mean of 20.1 kg ha-1). Options included optimal allocation of manure in time and space, surface application, incorporation, and manure storage facilities of three-, six-, and eight-month storage capacities. The decision process considered nutrient management costs (manure handling and fertilization) and the New York State P Site Index (P Index) as an indicator of one of the environmental impacts of manure management. Mathematical programming techniques and utility functions are used to select the best combination of manure management practices. The results show a convergence indicating that the best management decision would be to follow a manure allocation scheme optimized in time and space, to have three months of manure storage capacity, and to surface-apply manure. Compared with current practices, the recommended combination of practices results in an approximate 45% reduction in the mean area-weighted P Index (64.2 vs. 36.1) for a cost increase of less than 2% ($146 573 vs. $148 821).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science