Agricultural production results in the loss of unutilized nutrients such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to ground and surface waters.EPA Grant Number: U915435
Title: Agricultural production results in the loss of unutilized nutrients such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to ground and surface waters.
Investigators: Dunlap, Tanya F.
Institution: University of Wisconsin - Madison
EPA Project Officer: Carleton, James N
Project Period: January 11, 1999 through (Extended to January 10, 2002)
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1998) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Environmental Statistics , Fellowship - Applied Math & Statistics
Agricultural production results in the loss of unutilized nutrients such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to ground and surface waters. These high concentrations of N and P in rivers and estuaries continue to drive algae blooms and eutrophication that deplete oxygen from aquatic and marine ecosystems. This results in the destruction of the habitat for fish and other animals or plants that live in or near effected waters. For example, nutrient loading from farms has been linked to the loss of aquatic life in areas throughout the United States including the Chesapeake Bay and the dead zone off the coast of Louisiana. The issue of nutrient loading is compounded by the fact that the world population and the demand for animal products continue to grow. In order to meet increasing agricultural demands, it is critical that we find ways to prevent further damage. I hope to work on developing techniques to significantly reduce the amounts of N and P which escape the farm and accumulate in the environment. The focus of my work is to discover animal management methods which will reduce nutrient losses from dairy farms.
The primary research tools that I will use in my doctoral studies are mathematical modeling and animal reseach trials. I am currently working to compile existing data describing N and P flows within dairy cows into a spreadsheet, and I plan to use this spreadsheet as a model to predict how changes in dairy farm or animal management might reduce nutrient losses. Results of this process will allow me to perform animal research trials with two potential objectives. If the model inadequately or unrealisticly describes a particular aspect of nutrient flows, I will conduct animal trials to try to decipher what is actually occuring within the animal or herd. This will allow me to adjust the model which should improve the accuracy of its predictions. Secondly, when I am fairly confident in the structure of the model, I will use animal trials to test whether management methods predicted by the modeling process are indeed successful at reducing dairy farm nutrient losses.