BMP Cost and Nutrient Management Effectiveness on Typical Beef and Beef-Poultry Farms in Shenandoah County, Virginia

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Virginia Tech


This study analyzes the change in whole-farm net revenues and nutrient reduction from the implementation of five best management practices (BMPs) on a typical beef and beef-poultry farm in Shenandoah County. Whole-farm net revenues, resource allocation, nutrient loss reductions, and the cost efficiency of reducing nutrient losses were analyzed to assess which BMPs are the most cost efficient to implement, assuming the baseline scenarios have no voluntarily applied BMPs. The effects of stacking additional BMPs, in combinations of two or more, were also assessed. No-till cropping, winter wheat cover crop, herbaceous riparian buffer, fencing, and P-based NMP were the BMPs that were analyzed. Incentive payments from state and federal governments were incorporated into the cost of BMP adoption. A brief analysis of a farmer's time value of money, with respect to incentive payments, was also conducted. Results indicated that no-till crop management was the most cost efficient BMP, and was the only BMP to increase net revenues for both farm models. Fencing and P-based NMP were the least cost efficient for the beef farm. For the beef-poultry farm, fencing was the least cost efficient.

The implications of this study are that farmers that choose to adopt BMP should evaluate both their interests in maintaining (or increasing) farm net revenues along with their interest in improving water quality through the reduction of nutrient losses. There is potential for implementing multiple BMPs, while increasing net revenues from a farm's baseline scenario. For farmers and policy makers, no-till cropping can be a profitable and therefore cost efficient BMP to implement. Incentive payments are intended to encourage the adoption of BMPs by subsidizing a portion of the start-up costs. Policy makers should attempt to make cost-share payments reflect nutrient reduction goals. This can be done by analyzing both the compliance cost to farmers and the nutrient reduction effectiveness of BMPs.



No-Till, Cover Crop, Nutrient Management, BMP, Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Linear Programming, Fencing, Buffer