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UVM Dairy Farming Research

Research at dairy farms in Vermont shows how management practices can affect water quality, economics, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Agriculture is a common land use for the well-drained and productive soils of Vermont’s Winooski floodplain. Intense rain and flooding events are increasing throughout the Northeast as the climate changes. If not managed, this trend will worsen nutrient loss, runoff, and erosion from farm fields. More nutrient loss and erosion leads to poorer water quality within watersheds. Agriculture is already a primary contributor of phosphorus to Lake Champlain.

To address this issue, scientists from the University of Vermont (UVM) are assessing alternative farming practices on dairy farms. Their research is studying how well the different practices meet water quality goals and climate change mitigation efforts. By measuring runoff, leaching, and greenhouse gas emissions across small watersheds on working farms, they can find ways to reduce the impacts of farming. For example, certain farming practices can help to reduce phosphorus levels. Researchers are also keeping track of how much it costs the farmers to use these practices and if there are any positive or negative effects on crop yields. The goal is to find ways to make farms in the northeastern United States more economically and environmentally resilient to climate change.

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Williston, VT

Project Status



University of Vermont