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Manure Nutrients Relative to The Capacity Of Cropland And Pastureland To Assimilate Nutrients: Spatial and Temporal Trends for the United States

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As the structure of animal agriculture has shifted toward fewer, but larger operations and as the percentage of animals in confinement has increased, utilization and disposal of animal waste has become an issue of environmental concern. Traditional agriculture recycled nutrients from animal manure by applying manure to cropland and pastureland to promote plant growth. This practice has the added benefit of improving soil quality; the addition of organic matter enhances soil structure and increases the soil's ability to hold water and resist compaction. With fewer, but larger operations, the amount of animal manure has become more concentrated in local areas. Because the distance that manure can be hauled for land application has practical limits, manure loadings per acre must either increase or alternative methods of utilization be adopted. When manure application rates exceed the capacity of the land to assimilate nutrients, repeated applications can lead to a buildup of nutrients in the soil. This increases the potential for nutrients to move from the field through leaching and runoff and to pollute ground and surface water.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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