skip to main content

Title: Cycling Phosphorus and Nitrogen through Cropping Systems in an Intensive Dairy Production Region
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.
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract
    Excessive phosphorus (P) applications to croplands can contribute to eutrophication of surface waters through surface runoff and subsurface (leaching) losses. We analyzed leaching losses of total dissolved P (TDP) from no-till corn, hybrid poplar (Populus nigra X P. maximowiczii), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), miscanthus (Miscanthus giganteus), native grasses, and restored prairie, all planted in 2008 on former cropland in Michigan, USA. All crops except corn (13 kg P ha−1 year−1) were grown without P fertilization. Biomass was harvested at the end of each growing season except for poplar. Soil water at 1.2 m depth was sampled weekly to biweekly for TDP determination during March–November 2009–2016 using tension lysimeters. Soil test P (0–25 cm depth) was measured every autumn. Soil water TDP concentrations were usually below levels where eutrophication of surface waters is frequently observed (> 0.02 mg L−1) but often higher than in deep groundwater or nearby streams and lakes. Rates of P leaching, estimated from measured concentrations and modeled drainage, did not differ statistically among cropping systems across years; 7-year cropping system means ranged from 0.035 to 0.072 kg P ha−1 year−1 with large interannual variation. Leached P was positively related to STP, which decreased over the 7 years in all systems. These results indicate that both P-fertilized and unfertilized cropping systems mayMore>>
  2. Highlights Aquatic vegetation-based nutrient recovery offers an alternate approach for treating agricultural wastewater. Microalgae and duckweed can upcycle waste nutrients into valuable bio-based products. Producing feed, fertilizer, and fuel from manure-grown aquatic vegetation promotes a circular N-bioeconomy. Abstract . The massive amounts of nutrients that are currently released into the environment as waste have the potential to be recovered and transformed from a liability into an asset through photosynthesis, industry insight, and ecologically informed engineering design aimed at circularity. Fast-growing aquatic plant-like vegetation such as microalgae and duckweed have the capacity to enable local communities to simultaneously treat their own polluted water and retain nutrients that underlie the productivity of modern agriculture. Not only are they highly effective at upcycling waste nutrients into protein-rich biomass, microalgae and duckweed also offer excellent opportunities to substitute or complement conventional synthetic fertilizers, feedstocks in biorefineries, and livestock feed while simultaneously reducing the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise be required for their production and transport to farms. Integrated systems growing microalgae or duckweed on manure or agricultural runoff, and subsequent reuse of the harvested biomass to produce animal feed, soil amendments, and biofuels, present a sustainable approach to advancing circularitymore »in agricultural systems. This article provides a review of past efforts toward advancing the circular nitrogen bioeconomy using microalgae- and duckweed-based technologies to treat, recover, and upcycle nutrients from agricultural waste. The majority of the work with microalgae- and duckweed-based wastewater treatment has been concentrated on municipal and industrial effluents, with <50% of studies focusing on agricultural wastewater. In terms of scale, more than 91% of the microalgae-based studies and 58% of the duckweed-based studies were conducted at laboratory-scale. While the range of nutrient removals achieved using these technologies depends on various factors such as species, light, and media concentrations, 65% to 100% of total N, 82% to 100% of total P, 98% to 100% of NO3-, and 96% to 100% of NH3/NH4+ can be removed by treating wastewater with microalgae. For duckweed, removals of 75% to 98% total N, 81% to 93% total P, 72% to 98% NH3/NH4+, and 57% to 92% NO3- have been reported. Operating conditions such as hydraulic retention time, pH, temperature, and the presence of toxic nutrient levels and competing species in the media should be given due consideration when designing these systems to yield optimum benefits. In addition to in-depth studies and scientific advancements, policies encouraging supply chain development, market penetration, and consumer acceptance of these technologies are vitally needed to overcome challenges and to yield substantial socio-economic and environmental benefits from microalgae- and duckweed-based agricultural wastewater treatment. Keywords: Circular bioeconomy, Duckweed, Manure treatment, Microalgae, Nitrogen, Nutrient recycling, Wastewater treatment.« less
  3. Abstract. Livestock manure nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) play an importantrole in biogeochemical cycling. Accurate estimation of manure nutrient isimportant for assessing regional nutrient balance, greenhouse gas emission,and water environmental risk. Currently, spatially explicit manure nutrientdatasets over a century-long period are scarce in the United States (US).Here, we developed four datasets of annual animal manure N and P productionand application in the contiguous US at a 30 arcsec resolution overthe period of 1860–2017. The dataset combined multiple data sourcesincluding county-level inventory data as well as high-resolution livestockand crop maps. The total production of manure N and P increased from 1.4 Tg N yr−1 and 0.3 Tg P yr−1 in 1860 to 7.4 Tg N yr−1 and 2.3 Tg P yr−1 in 2017, respectively. The increasing manure nutrient productionwas associated with increased livestock numbers before the 1980s andenhanced livestock weights after the 1980s. The manure application amountwas primarily dominated by production, and its spatial pattern was impactedby the nutrient demand of crops. The intense-application region mainlyenlarged from the Midwest toward the southern US and became moreconcentrated in numerous hot spots after the 1980s. The South Atlantic–Gulf and Mid-Atlantic basins were exposed to high environmental risks due to theenrichment of manure nutrient production and application from the 1970s tothe period of 2000–2017. Our long-term manuremore »N and P datasets providedetailed information for national and regional assessments of nutrientbudgets. Additionally, the datasets can serve as the input data forecosystem and hydrological models to examine biogeochemical cycles interrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Datasets are available at (Bian etal., 2020).« less
  4. Abstract. Relationships between land use and water quality are complex with interdependencies, feedbacks, and legacy effects. Most river water quality studies have assessed catchment land use as areal coverage, but here, we hypothesize and test whether land use intensity – the inputs (fertilizer, livestock) and activities (vegetation removal) of land use – is a better predictor of environmental impact. We use New Zealand (NZ) as a case study because it has had one of the highest rates of agricultural land intensification globally over recent decades. We interpreted water quality state and trends for the 26 years from 1989 to 2014 in the National Rivers Water Quality Network (NRWQN) – consisting of 77 sites on 35 mostly large river systems. To characterize land use intensity, we analyzed spatial and temporal changes in livestock density and land disturbance (i.e., bare soil resulting from vegetation loss by either grazing or forest harvesting) at the catchment scale, as well as fertilizer inputs at the national scale. Using simple multivariate statistical analyses across the 77 catchments, we found that median visual water clarity was best predicted inversely by areal coverage of intensively managed pastures. The primary predictor for all four nutrient variables (TN, NOx, TP, DRP), however, wasmore »cattle density, with plantation forest coverage as the secondary predictor variable. While land disturbance was not itself a strong predictor of water quality, it did help explain outliers of land use–water quality relationships. From 1990 to 2014, visual clarity significantly improved in 35 out of 77 (34∕77) catchments, which we attribute mainly to increased dairy cattle exclusion from rivers (despite dairy expansion) and the considerable decrease in sheep numbers across the NZ landscape, from 58 million sheep in 1990 to 31 million in 2012. Nutrient concentrations increased in many of NZ's rivers with dissolved oxidized nitrogen significantly increasing in 27∕77 catchments, which we largely attribute to increased cattle density and legacy nutrients that have built up on intensively managed grasslands and plantation forests since the 1950s and are slowly leaking to the rivers. Despite recent improvements in water quality for some NZ rivers, these legacy nutrients and continued agricultural intensification are expected to pose broad-scale environmental problems for decades to come.

    « less
  5. Double cropping winter camelina (Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz) with maize (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine max L. (Merr.)) is a diversification strategy in northern regions. Winter camelina is reported to have low nutrient requirements, but its nitrogen (N) needs are not well understood. Studies on winter camelina without (Study 1) and with (Study 2) N fertilization were used to compare growth, seed yield and quality, and effects on soil N. Study 1 was conducted from 2015 to 2017 at one location and Study 2 was conducted from 2018 to 2020 at two locations. Grain yield was as much as six times higher in Study 2 compared with Study 1; averaged across treatments, winter camelina yielded 1157 kg ha−1 in Study 2 and 556 kg ha−1 without N. Oil and protein content ranged from 26.4 to 27.2% and 19.4 to 27.1%, respectively, in Study 1 and from 31.7 to 35.9% and 14.9 to 20.8%, respectively, in Study 2. N fertilizer increased winter camelina biomass and grain yield and soil N when double cropped with maize and soybean. Our study indicates that grain yield of winter camelina respond positively to N fertilization in a northern location. The drawback of this ismore »the increase in residual soil N, which suggests the need for further research to balance agronomic practices with environmental outcomes.« less