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As pressure on the dairy industry to reduce its environmental impact increases, efficient recycling of manure nutrients through local cropping systems becomes crucial. The aim of this study was to calculate annual nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) budgets in six counties located in the Magic Valley, Idaho and estimate what distance manure would need to be transported to be in balance with crop nutrient demand given current dairy cattle populations and cropping systems. Our analysis suggests that crop N needs will not be met solely by manure, and synthetic fertilizer will need to be applied. However, to balance P with crop production, manure would need to be transported a minimum of 12.9 km from dairies and would have to replace synthetic fertilizer P on 91% of regional cropland. Education of producers and technical specialists would be necessary to improve the management of manure use in regional cropping systems. Technical solutions such as alternative diets for cattle and nutrient capture from manure streams will also likely be necessary to bring regional P into balance to protect environmental quality and improve the sustainability of the regional dairy industry.
Earth Systems Research Center
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Leytem, A. B., Williams, P., Zuidema, S., Martinez, A., Chong, Y. L., Vincent, A., et al. (2021). Cycling Phosphorus and Nitrogen through Cropping Systems in an Intensive Dairy Production Region. Agronomy, 11(5), 1005. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11051005