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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Managing Farms for Environmental Stewardship and Profit

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Project Number: 1902-11130-002-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Nov 01, 2010
End Date: Oct 31, 2015

Objective:
1: Develop process-level models to predict management effects on nutrient losses and gaseous emissions from farms. 1.A. Measure and model the crop production and environmental impacts of using new fertilizer technology. 1.B. Develop mechanistic relationships for the partitioning and transfer of volatile organic compounds from silage as affected by silage characteristics, management practices, and the environment. 1.C. Refine and evaluate process-level relationships for simulating ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and greenhouse gas emissions from farms as influenced by animal, feed, and manure management. 2: Measure and model carbon sequestration potential of farming systems as a means of mitigating the impacts of agriculture on climate. 2.A. Measure the effect of enhanced nutrient availability on the carbon sequestration potential of permanent pastures. 2.B. Develop a sub-model for IFSM that represents belowground partitioning of assimilated carbon, soil respiration, and plant responses to current and elevated carbon dioxide levels. 2.C. Estimate carbon-sequestration potential of humid-temperate farm production systems using remote-sensing and associated models. 3: Refine and apply farm-scale models and analyze watershed data for integrated evaluations of management effects on nutrient losses, gaseous emissions, and the interacting effects on farm performance and profit. 3.A. Develop, evaluate, and release a Dairy Facility Gas Emission Model (DairyGEM) that expands the current DairyGHG model to include ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and VOC emission predictions in addition to greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms. 3.B. In support of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project, develop and apply methods for evaluating predictive uncertainty of individual and combined farm management practices. 3.C. In support of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project, publish a historical database collected from our Mahantango Creek experimental watershed to improve access, proper use, and long-term management of the data. 3.D. In support of collaborating projects working on air emissions, carbon sequestration, nutrient management, and bioenergy crop production, expand and use IFSM to evaluate the performance, environmental impact, and profitability of farming systems under historical and projected future climate scenarios. Objective 4: Increase the resilience of US agriculture to climate change and weather variability while developing strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Support GRACEnet, LTAR and Climate Hub efforts to improve the profitability and environmental performance of crop and livestock systems. The following sub-objectives will apply: a) Apply experimental and monitoring information to assess the response of current and alternative farming systems to historical climate change. b) Evaluate the effect of alternative management strategies on the profitability and environmental impact of agriculture under a range of climate forecasts. c) Improve carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, production facilities and land application of manure.

Approach:
Livestock operations can have a number of adverse impacts on the environment including nutrient leaching to ground water, nutrient runoff in surface water, emission of hazardous compounds to the atmosphere, and increased greenhouse gas emissions. These potential impacts are interrelated, so changes to reduce one environmental problem may increase another. A proper assessment of management changes and mitigation technologies requires a comprehensive approach that integrates all important environmental factors and their interactions along with effects on farm performance and profit. Process-level simulation, evaluated with experimental measurements, will be used to assess the environmental and economic implications of production strategies. This work will focus on further development, evaluation, and application of the Integrated Farm System Model and related software tools. Further development will improve the prediction of ammonia emission, add a component on hydrogen sulfide emission, and develop a component for predicting the emission of volatile organic compounds. An enhanced carbon sequestration component will model belowground plant processes, soil respiration, and crop responses to elevated carbon dioxide. Field and laboratory experimental measurements will help determine model parameters and provide data for model evaluation. The comprehensive models developed will be used to evaluate the effects of alternative technologies, management strategies, and climate on farm performance, environmental impact, and economics. The uncertainty of these complex models will be quantified through multiple simulations of given management practices across the ranges of relevant parameter inputs. The information and software produced will help direct producers and their consultants toward more environmentally and economically sustainable production systems.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014
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