Environmental assessment of pasture-based and confined dairy farms in Georgia
Belflower, Jefferson Bunyan
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Information on the environmental impacts and resource consumption resulting from milk production in the southeastern U.S. is limited. The biological and physical processes of an intensively managed rotational pasture-based dairy and a confined dairy feeding mixed rations were modeled, and the greenhouse gas emissions, carbon footprint, erosion, nitrate leaching, phosphorus runoff, phosphorus accumulation in the soil, ammonia volatilization, and soil carbon sequestration were estimated for each farm. The results of this study were compared to measured and modeled data. Potential changes in management on each farm were modeled and the resulting changes in environmental impacts were quantified. The total water and electricity consumption and the primary components of each were measured. Water and electricity consumption per cow and per unit of milk produced were reported. The waste management system on the pasture-based dairy was monitored, and design parameters for future systems were developed.