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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: OPTIMIZING FORAGE-BASED COW-CALF OPERATIONS TO IMPROVE SUSTAINABILITY OF BEEF CATTLE AGRICULTURE AND WATER QUALITY PROTECTION AND MANAGEMENT Title: Managing forage-based cow-calf operations in subtropics: Implication to surface and ground water quality

Authors
item Sigua, Gilbert
item Coleman, Samuel

Submitted to: World Congress of Soil Science
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 10, 2010
Publication Date: August 1, 2010
Citation: Sigua, G.C., Coleman, S.W. 2010. Managing forage-based cow-calf operations in subtropics: Implication to surface and ground water quality. Proceedings of 19th World Congress of Soil Science, August 1-6, 2010, Brisbane, Australia. p. 94-97.

Technical Abstract: water quality “impairment” around the world. In most cases, eutrophication has accelerated by increased inputs of phosphorus and/or nitrogen due to intensification of crop and animal production systems since the early 1990’s. As animal-based agriculture has evolved to larger production in subtropical region of United States, the problems associated with manure handling, storage and disposal have grown significantly. Little information exists regarding possible magnitudes of nutrient losses from pastures that are managed for both grazing and hay production and how these might impact adjacent bodies of water. Trends in water quality parameters and trophic state index (TSI) of lakes associated with beef cattle operations are being investigated. Overall, there was no spatial or temporal buildup of soil nutrients despite the annual application of fertilizers and daily in-field loading of animal waste. Our results indicate that when nutrients are not applied in excess, cow-calf systems are slight exporters of nutrients through removal of cut hay. Water quality in lakes associated with cattle production was “good” (30-46 TSI) based upon the Florida Water Quality Standard. Our results indicate that current cattle rotation and current fertilizer application offer little potential for negatively affecting the environment. Properly managed livestock operations contribute negligible loads of nitrogen and phosphorus to shallow groundwater and surface water.

Last Modified: 8/30/2014
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