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Dairy farmers can adapt to climate change

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Warming climate worsens nutrient pollution but lengthens growing season

The researchers found that double cropping increased and stabilized the farm’s feed production by providing forage from a winter rye crop (shown) with less dependency on the summer crops of corn silage and perennial cool-season grasses. Credit: Heather Karsten. All Rights Reserved. UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dairy farmers in the Northeast — facing a warming climate that exacerbates nutrient pollution but lengthens the growing season — can reduce the environmental impact of their operations and maximize revenues by double cropping and injecting manure into the soil, rather than broadcasting it.

That’s the conclusion of a team of researchers, led by Penn State agroecologists, whose new study evaluated whole-farm production and the environmental and economic impacts of adopting these practices on a representative dairy farm in central Pennsylvania under recent historical and projected mid-century climate.

The research is important, according to Heather Karsten , associate professor of crop production/ecology in the College of Agricultural Sciences, because dairy farms — especially in the Northeast — are increasingly subject to more stringent regulations to reduce nutrient losses. With expected warmer conditions that will result in increased ammonia volatilization from manure and more frequent and more […]

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