IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

A case study of the potential environmental impacts of different dairy production systems in Georgia

Listed author(s):
  • Belflower, Jeff B.
  • Bernard, John K.
  • Gattie, David K.
  • Hancock, Dennis W.
  • Risse, Lawrence M.
  • Alan Rotz, C.
Registered author(s):

    The biological and physical processes of an intensively-managed rotational pasture-based dairy and a confinement fed dairy in the southeastern United States were simulated with the Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM) to evaluate management effects on greenhouse gas emissions, soil carbon sequestration, carbon footprint, nitrate leaching, ammonia volatilization, erosion, phosphorus runoff, and phosphorus accumulation in the soil. Edge-of-field erosion and phosphorus runoff were less for the pasture-based dairy per unit of land and per unit of milk produced, but nitrate leaching was greater. Ammonia emissions were greater from the confinement dairy because of the greater handling of manure. Greenhouse gas emissions per cow were greater on the confined dairy, but with greater milk production per cow, the carbon footprint of milk produced was similar to that of the pasture-based dairy. Considering the potential soil carbon sequestration following the conversion of crop land to perennial grassland, the carbon footprint of the milk produced by the pasture-based dairy was slightly less than that of the confinement dairy. The results of this study were generally consistent with similar simulation studies done in the northeastern US with variations due to regional differences in climate, soil type, and agronomic practices. Simulated changes in production practices predicted that increasing milk production through improved animal management or feeding more corn decreased the carbon footprint of milk produced by the pasture-based dairy, while decreasing the inorganic nitrogen fertilizer application rate or raising replacement heifers on the farm had little effect. On the confinement dairy, covering the manure storage and flaring the biogas decreased the carbon footprint, using higher producing, pure-bred Holstein cows or producing less forage on the farm increased the footprint, and eliminating free-stall barns and placing all cattle on pasture had little effect on the footprint. The IFSM was capable of adapting to the climate and production practices of the southeastern US, but further improvements could be made to better represent the cropping practices used in this region.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Agricultural Systems.

    Volume (Year): 108 (2012)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 84-93

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:108:y:2012:i:c:p:84-93
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2012.01.005
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Verge, X.P.C. & Dyer, J.A. & Desjardins, R.L. & Worth, D., 2007. "Greenhouse gas emissions from the Canadian dairy industry in 2001," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 94(3), pages 683-693, June.
    2. Flysjö, Anna & Henriksson, Maria & Cederberg, Christel & Ledgard, Stewart & Englund, Jan-Eric, 2011. "The impact of various parameters on the carbon footprint of milk production in New Zealand and Sweden," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 104(6), pages 459-469, July.
    3. Basset-Mens, Claudine & Ledgard, Stewart & Boyes, Mark, 2009. "Eco-efficiency of intensification scenarios for milk production in New Zealand," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1615-1625, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:108:y:2012:i:c:p:84-93. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.