A team of researchers led by Penn State agro-ecologists features farming practices that can help farmers adapt to warming temperatures projected to occur in the middle of this century.
Their study finds that these farming practices have beneficial environmental and economic impacts.
The study states that a warming climate will worsen nutrient pollution – increase ammonia volatilization from manure and frequent and increase phosphorus runoff from severe storms and precipitation.
However, rising temperatures will also lengthen the growing season.
These conditions affect dairy farms in Central Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast US.
Researchers offer climate adaptation strategies that these farmers can apply to cope with the warming climate and growing nutrient pollution. These strategies consist of double cropping and subsurface manure injection.
The study simulated farm management strategies using the Integrated Farm System Model. This whole-farm simulation shows that double cropping and subsurface injection of manure reduced nitrogen losses by 12% to 18% and total phosphorus losses by 16% to 19% while reducing total farm-production costs.
Double cropping also increased and stabilized feed production by providing forage from a winter crop and less dependence on summer crops.
The study mentions:
“Adoption of these strategies provided a feasible adaptation and mitigation approach for future climate,” adding that, “Although these results are specific to a dairy farm in central Pennsylvania, they generally apply to dairy farms throughout the Northeast US and climates where similar changes in temperature and precipitation are projected by mid-century. Our analyses suggest that the use of a more intensive crop rotation (double cropping winter small grain and corn silage) along with improved manure application technology (subsurface injection) can help mitigate dairy farm environmental impacts now and even more in the future.”
To read the entire study click the link below:
Penn State. “Dairy farmers can adapt to climate change: Warming climate worsens nutrient pollution but lengthens growing season.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 January 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/01/220105135958.
José P. Castaño-Sánchez, Heather D. Karsten, C. Alan Rotz, Double cropping and manure management mitigate the environmental impact of a dairy farm under present and future climate, Agricultural Systems, Volume 196, 2022, 103326, ISSN 0308-521X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2021.103326