Whole-herd optimization with the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System. III. Application of an optimization model to evaluate alternatives to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus mass balance. Academic Article uri icon


  • The objectives of this paper were to use a linear programming model previously described to evaluate different alternatives for reducing excess nutrients that may influence water quality on a case study farm (300 lactating cows on 430 ha of cropland growing alfalfa, grass, and corn). Several alternatives perceived to influence farm nutrient balance were evaluated for their potential to reduce N and P mass balance. Dividing lactating cow diets into three groups according to their level of milk production versus a one-group total mixed ration decreased mass balance (tonne/yr) from 51.7 to 44.7 for N, from 6.7 to 6.1 for P and from 16.2 to 14.8 for K with little influence on return over feed costs. Increasing forage quality (lower neutral detergent fiber and higher crude protein) did not improve N balance because of the increased N fixation from the air to the soil, but it increased returns over feed costs by $31,385. Improving yields to the maximum potential for the farm reduced mass balance by 29, 51, and 100% for N, P, and K, respectively, and increased returns over feed costs by $70,579. Changing the crop hectare proportions to more corn and less alfalfa reduced N and K balances by 19 and 29%, respectively, and increased returns over feed costs $39,383. Increasing annual milk production 10% by increasing milk production per head 10% compared with increasing animal numbers at the current average milk production per cow until total milk increased 10% gave $34,132 more return over feed costs with less N, P, and K retained on the farm.

published proceedings

  • J Dairy Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, S. J., Fox, D. G., Cherney, D. J., Chase, L. E., & Tedeschi, L. O.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Wang, SJ||Fox, DG||Cherney, DJ||Chase, LE||Tedeschi, LO

publication date

  • September 2000