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Open AccessArticle

Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems for Nitrogen Management: A Multi-Scale Spatial Analysis

1
Department of Economics, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA
2
Water Resources Program, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2021, 11(1), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010100
Received: 1 December 2020 / Revised: 28 December 2020 / Accepted: 3 January 2021 / Published: 6 January 2021
Manure disposal is a growing problem as agricultural specialization leads to ever-larger concentrations of farm animals. Animals and crops were once grown on the same farm, creating an easy path for manure disposal on cropland in a cycle from animals to feed crops and back. Increasing specialization today means that concentrated animal operations are no longer linked to adjacent cropland on which animal waste can be disposed, leading to significant off-farm externalities in the form of risks of air and water contamination. Using an arid lands case study of dairies and crop and grass land in New Mexico, USA, we explore the possibility of reintegration through the analysis of available crop and range land in the scale of counties and watersheds surrounding the state’s concentrated dairies. We find that there is often available land to make productive use of the waste. However, in developing the policy tools to reintegrate the animal waste-crop cycle among independent farms and ranches, it is critical to consider the appropriate geographic scale.
The size and productivity of the livestock operations have increased over the past several decades, serving the needs of the growing human population. This growth however has come at the expense of broken connection between croplands and livestock operations. As a result, there is a huge disconnect between the nutrient needs of croplands and the availability of nutrients from livestock operations, leading to a range of environmental and public health issues. This study develops a theoretical framework for multi-scale spatial analysis of integrated crop-livestock systems. Using New Mexico, USA as a case study, we quantify the amount of nitrogen produced by dairy farms in the state and examine if the available nitrogen can be assimilated by the croplands and grasslands across spatial scales. The farm-level assessment identifies that all the farms under study do not have adequate onsite croplands to assimilate the nitrogen produced therein. The successive assessments at county and watershed levels suggest that the among-farm integration across operations could be an effective mechanism to assimilate the excess nitrogen. Our study hints towards the multi-spatial characteristic of the problem that can be pivotal in designing successful policy instruments. View Full-Text
Keywords: integrated crop-livestock system; nutrient management; nitrogen; manure; spatial analysis integrated crop-livestock system; nutrient management; nitrogen; manure; spatial analysis
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ghimire, S.; Wang, J.; Fleck, J.R. Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems for Nitrogen Management: A Multi-Scale Spatial Analysis. Animals 2021, 11, 100. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010100

AMA Style

Ghimire S, Wang J, Fleck JR. Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems for Nitrogen Management: A Multi-Scale Spatial Analysis. Animals. 2021; 11(1):100. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010100

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ghimire, Suraj; Wang, Jingjing; Fleck, John R. 2021. "Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems for Nitrogen Management: A Multi-Scale Spatial Analysis" Animals 11, no. 1: 100. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010100

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