ScienceDaily reports the optimal manure application on your dairy farm could originate on a virtual farm.

The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Penn State University have tested the environmental impact and economic efficacy of different manure applications using computer simulated farms supported by field research.

Scientists tested broadcast spreading with and without incorporation by tillage, band application with soil aeration and shallow disk injection. These alternative manure applications were compared using computer simulations to predict ammonia emissions, nitrate leaching and phosphorus runoff losses. The simulations were compared to four years of field trials.

Findings showed manure applications using a shallow disk injection device resulted in the lowest nutrient loss without negative impacts on the farm’s profitability. Band applications with soil aeration raised production costs and were less environmentally beneficial.

Source: ScienceDaily