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Geospatial Landscape Analysis for Livestock Manure Management in Western Pennsylvania

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting  1801218.(doi:10.13031/aim.201801218)
Authors:   Gourab K Saha, Raj Cibin, Herschel Elliott, Heather Gall, James Shortle, David Alber
Keywords:   Nutrient Imbalance, Suitability indicators, Vulnerability factors, Manuresheds, Land suitability analysis, sustainable manure management

Abstract. Intensive agricultural activities in southeastern Pennsylvania (PA) are a leading source of nutrient pollution of the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay water quality regulations issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 require reductions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment from agriculture by approximately one quarter by 2025. A dilemma for the state is how to maintain a vibrant agricultural economy while meeting regulatory targets. One strategy that is receiving significant interest is agricultural development in the state outside the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The soils of western PA have relatively low soil test P values and act as the potential nutrient sinks which may provide an opportunity for new animal agriculture there. However, a detailed environmental impact assessment needs to be conducted before these opportunities could be realized. The overall goals of the study are to conduct a geospatial analysis and develop tools to explore the potential for sustainable manure management in western PA. The objectives of the study are to (i) develop a framework for identifying environmentally feasible areas for manure utilization; (ii) develop tools to delineate an area that could accommodate the manure generated from a new livestock farm (i.e., “manureshed”). A pilot study was conducted in three counties in western PA, Armstrong, Indiana, and Westmoreland. In total, 46293 ha (114,392 acres) have been identified as the suitable area for manure utilization. The tools developed to delineate a manureshed can be utilized based on a user-defined location for a potential new animal facility and details about the desired facility size. We expect that the methods and tools developed are transferable to other regions, and that would be suitable for expansion of animal agriculture in a sustainable manner

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