Sustainable Dairy Cropping Systems: The Virtual Dairy Farm

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An interdisciplinary team of Penn State and USDA-ARS researchers are evaluating a Sustainable Cropping System to test the hypothesis that a dairy farm can minimize off-farm inputs and environmental impacts, and be productive, profitable and sustainable. Established in 2010 at the Penn State Agronomy Research Farm, the farm produces grain, forage and tractor fuel at 1/20th the scale of an average sized Pennsylvania dairy of 240 acres. The farm includes two diverse 6-yr crop rotations that include manure injection, perennial legumes, cover and green manure crops; a cover crop roller, winter canola, and a straight vegetable oil tractor. Within each crop rotation two management practices for no-till crop production are compared. For more: http://www.extension.org/67614

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  • The highlighted and orange words – I will explain that these are not common practices on a typical dairy operation, while the others are.
  • Will mention that the first year canola, the moisture was too high and that resulted not being able to press out enough oil (cold pressing – dry extraction). The following years the canola was dryer and resulted in better oil extraction. With the beans, the first year we were short on potash which resulted in the low protein and fat content.
  • Sustainable Dairy Cropping Systems: The Virtual Dairy Farm

    1. 1. Sustainable Dairy Cropping SystemsThe “Virtual” Dairy HerdVirginia Ishler, Heather Karsten,Glenna Malcolm and Tim Beck
    2. 2. Objective• This project takes an interdisciplinary approach todevelop sustainable dairy cropping systems andmonitor multiple indicators of systems performance.• Today’s presentation is to compare 2 diversecropping approaches and their impact on feedinventory, feed quality, and economics.Red clover green manure Rye cover crop IPM Perennial alfalfa crop.
    3. 3. BMP and BMP-Enhanced have: BMP-Enhanced also has:Cover & green manure crops Small grains for silageAlfalfa and alfalfa & orchard grass mix Only alfalfa & orchard grass mixIntegrated pest management Reduced herbicideCanola for feed and fuel Manure Injection (vs. surfaceapplication)Injecting manureSmall grains (triticale & peas) withalfalfa + orchardgrass vs. pure alfalfaCultivating weeds betweenrow crops
    4. 4. PSU Sustainable Dairy Cropping Systems:Goal: Produce the forage, feed, and fuel for a 65lactating cow, 240-acre* dairy farm in PA whileminimizing off-farm inputs*We grow these crops at 1/20ththe size with farm-scale equipment.
    5. 5. The Sustainable Dairy Farm: 240 acres, 65 milking cowsForage Crops:- alfalfa mixtures- corn silageGrain Crops:- corn- soybeans- canola- wheatCover Crops:- rye- red cloverAcres:1004020204020Crop YieldsCrop QualityDairy &NutritionModelsMilk ProductionManure Production
    6. 6. The Dairy Herd-( a start-up herd)• 65 milking cows – 590 kg– 34 kg w/3.8% fat and 3.1% protein– 22.5 kg dry matter intake• 10 dry cows – 614 kg• 12 calves birth-6 months – 114 kg• 20 heifers 7- 11 months – 273 kg• 32 heifers 12-24 months – 409 kgHerd Officially Started Rations on November 1, 2010
    7. 7. The Dairy Herd• Tie-stall barn – TMR fed to milk cows• Dry cows and heifers – partial TMR• Five upright silos– 16’ x 50’ –Hay-crop– 18’ x 60’ – Hay-crop– 18’ x 60’ (3) – Corn SilageNote: Upright tonnage has storage loss figuredat 6% for CS and 8% for haycrop silage
    8. 8. Rations• Milk cow rations formulated for 65% forage /35% concentrate.– Dry cows – 82% forage– Heifers – 70-89% forage• Milk cow rations formulated for metabolizableprotein– Comes to 15.5% CP
    9. 9. Analyses of Canola Meal and SoybeansCanola Meal Roasted Beans2010 2011 2012 Typical 2010 2011 2012 TypicalCrude protein 31.8 36.8 39.8 40.8 31.6 41.8 39.8 41.8Crude fat 19.2 11.3 11.8 4.0 15.4 20.8 21.2 18.3%DM%DMSoybeansCanola meal
    10. 10. Analyses of Corn SilageBroadcast Manure Injected Manure2010 2011 2012 2010 2011 2012Dry Matter, % 39.8 30.9 36.7 41.1 30.4 36.7Crude protein, % DM 8.2 8.7 7.6 8.2 8.9 8.0Neutral detergentfiber, % DM 32.7 38.8 35.6 31.6 40.6 36.2Starch, % DM 44.8 37.9 42.1 47.8 35.1 40.6Forage quality did not differ between manure management strategies
    11. 11. Monthly Events• Formulate diets for all animal groups– Track inventory• Calculate grain mix costs• Track Income Over Feed Costs
    12. 12. Monthly Income Over Feed Cost/cow/dayIOFC = Milk Income – Feed cost
    13. 13. Example factors affecting IOFC• Forage quality– Weather challenges with the alfalfa/grass silagequality in the BMP-Enhanced scenario – had tofeed 40-43% concentrate and heavier CS (2011)• Forage inventory– No carry over of corn silage for the BMP scenariofall 2012 – had to feed fresh – negative impact onmilk production– Two month carry over of corn silage for BMP-Enhanced scenario – increased milk production
    14. 14. Cost prices for crops grown in 2010 in the Best Management Practices and BMP-Enhancedscenarios.Home raised ingredients Market price1BMP cost2BMP-Enhanced cost2$/ton $/ton $/tonCorn silage 33.10 29.78 32.07Alfalfa/grass silage 64.18 219.56 88.32Alfalfa/grass hay 134.33 260.92 177.95Alfalfa silage 85.21 72.68 -Small grain silage 48.21 - 67.51Corn grain 269.01 63.92 58.10Soybeans 437.72 216.50 157.79Canola 308.743622.84 559.791Market price is the average price of home raised feeds for 2011 and they are from the Penn StateFeed Price List that is published monthly.2Cost is the price to raise the feeds on farm including prices for seed, chemicals, fertilizer,custom hire and the related operating costs.3The market price is for canola meal, the price for the two scenarios represents the cost ofproducing the seed (oil and the meal).
    15. 15. Cost prices for crops grown in 2011 in the Best Management Practices and BMP-Enhancedscenarios.Home raised ingredients Market price1BMP cost2BMP-Enhanced cost2$/ton $/ton $/tonCorn silage 40.80 38.96 39.57Alfalfa/grass silage 77.64 55.24 49.68Alfalfa/grass hay 162.50 147.77 119.14Alfalfa silage 98.95 31.39 -Small grain silage 58.32 - 154.56Corn grain 268.68 69.92 62.75Soybeans 469.75 184.15 194.36Canola 379.243473.93 442.321Market price is the average price of home raised feeds for 2012 and they are from the Penn StateFeed Price List that is published monthly.2Cost is the price to raise the feeds on farm including prices for seed, chemicals, fertilizer,custom hire and the related operating costs.3The market price is for canola meal, the price for the two scenarios represents the cost ofproducing the seed (oil and the meal).
    16. 16. How does the “Virtual Dairy Start-Up Farm” compare toEstablished Pennsylvania dairy operations?Pennsylvania summary data from cash flow plans versus the “Virtual Dairy Farm”.Summary data1BMP2BMP-Enhanced2Purchased feed cost/cow2011 $1259 $571 $5032012 $1487 $609 $532Breakeven income over feed cost/cow2011 $7.54 $10.50 $10.042012 $7.76 $10.14 $9.971Summary data is from 78 dairy operations in Pennsylvania2Best Management Practices and BMP-Enhanced scenarios.
    17. 17. Monthly Income Over Feed Cost/cow/dayIOFC = Milk Income – Feed costUsing Market Prices for Home-raised feeds$10.14$9.97BreakevenIOFC - 2012BreakevenIOFC - 2011$10.50$10.04
    18. 18. Virtual Dairy Farm IOFC based on COSTS toproduce all home raised feedsVirtual Dairy Farm IOFC based on costs to produce all home raised feedsDollars above/(below) breakeven IOFC/cow/dayBMP BMP-Enhanced2011 $0.42 $1.512012 $1.72 $2.18
    19. 19. Conclusions• The value of this project is evaluating thesustainability of the practices over time.• Economic analysis includes both the wholefarm system and the dairy enterprise only.• Generating canola meal and straightvegetable oil as fuel source is a novel concept.• This project can be scaled down to evaluateherds that have a limited land base.
    20. 20. Thank You!In the Proceedings Paper:Detailed information about this project as well as publications and other resources can befound at http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/areas/crop-ecology-and-management/cropping-systemsA link to our 2012 Project summary report on the NESARE website.http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectReport.aspx?do=viewRept&pn=LNE09-291&y=2012&t=0
    21. 21. Yields – Best Management Practices (BMP) Scenario2010 2011 2012Total TonsCorn silage - ensiled 774 670 634Alfalfa - ensiled 415 468 583Alfalfa – dry hay 53 90 66Alfalfa – wet wrap 110 80 60Alfalfa + grass - ensiled 85 - -Alfalfa + grass – Ag Bag - 168 -Alfalfa + grass – dry hay - 100 57Alfalfa + grass – wet wrap 93 84 108Sorghum sudan grass – Ag Bag - - 128Sorghum sudan grass – ensiled - - 197Total 756 990 1199Canola meal 14 22 15.6Corn grain 113 117 92Roasted soybeans 31 37 37.7CanolaSoybeans
    22. 22. Yields – BMP-Enhanced Scenario2010 2011 2012Total TonsCorn silage - ensiled 747 674 691Small grain silage – Ag Bag 124 - 118Small grain silage – wet wrap - 47 -Alfalfa + grass – ensiled 535 611 440Alfalfa + grass – dry hay 145 201 149Alfalfa + grass – wet wrap - 155 -Sorghum sudan grass – Ag Bag - - 276Total 804 1014 983Canola meal 15 21 19.9Corn grain 116 121 88.8Roasted soybeans 32 26 22.7Feeding the small grainsilage (2010) extendedthe CS inventory thruthe fall – this had apositive economicimpact.CanolaSoybeans

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