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High Nitrogen Costs of Dairy Production in Europe: Worsened by Intensification

Bleken, Marina Azzaroli; Steinshamn, Håvard and Hansen, Sissel (2005) High Nitrogen Costs of Dairy Production in Europe: Worsened by Intensification. Ambio, 34 (8), pp. 598-606.

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Summary

Intensification of agriculture has been proposed as one way of minimizing emissions per unit of product, apparently legitimizing the ongoing structural changes in agriculture. We have investigated the relationship between the farming intensity and the nitrogen (N) dissipation by calculating the overall N emission factor (E: total N surplus per unit of N in the produce) from several studies of dairy farms, covering a wide range of environments and production intensities. Fundamental steps were 1) the distinction between trophic levels, mineral, plant and animal N; and 2) the inclusion of N losses related to bought feed. The results show that E increases significantly with the production intensity of the dairy farm. The tradition for separate optimization of the animal and crop sectors may be a reason. We suggest that the N pollution can be mitigated by more extensive farming, both by re-coupling crop and animal production side by side, and by keeping land under cultivation when production is reduced.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:N, nitrogen, farming intensity, N budget, N balance, purchased fodder, animal husbandry, farm level case studies, dairy farming
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Research affiliation: Norway > NORSØK - Norwegian Centre for Ecological Agriculture
Norway > UMB - Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Deposited By: Steinshamn, Dr Håvard
ID Code:6942
Deposited On:09 Mar 2008
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:32
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted
Additional Publishing Information:Please contact Marina Azzaroli Bleken, marina.bleken@umb.no to discuss the contents of this paper

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