Long-term accumulation of soil phosphorus (P) is becoming a concern on some watersheds heavily populated with animal feeding facilities, including dairy farms. Management changes in crop production and feeding may help reduce the accumulation of excess P, but farm profitability must be maintained or improved to assure adoption of such changes. Whole-farm simulation was used to evaluate the long-term effects of changes in feeding, cropping, and other production strategies on P loading and the economics of 100-cow and 800-cow dairy farms in southeastern New York. Simulated farms maintained a long-term P balance if the following occurred: 1) animals were fed to meet recommended minimum amounts of dietary P, 2) the cropping strategy and land base supplied all of the forage needed, 3) all animals were fed a high forage diet, and 4) replacement heifers were produced on the farm to utilize more forage. The most easily implemented change was to reduce the supplemental mineral P fed to that required to meet current NRC recommended amounts, and this provided an annual increase in farm profit of about $22/cow. Intensifying the use of grassland and improving grazing practices increased profit along with a small reduction in excess P. Conversion from dairy production to heifer raising or expansion from 100 cows to a 250-cow "state-of-the-art" confinement facility (with a 70% increase in land area) were also profitable options. These options provided a long-term P balance for the farm as long as the production and use of forage was maximized and minimum dietary P amounts were those recommended by the NRC. Thus, management changes can be made to prevent the long-term accumulation of soil P on dairy farms while improving farm profitability.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology