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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2005

Nutrient management for intensive animal agriculture: policies and practices for sustainability

Sims JT, Bergstrom L, Bowman BT, Oenema O


The intensity of animal production around the world has increased substantially during the last half-century, which has led to large problems with the disposal of manures and waste waters. The focus of this paper is on the development of national policies to improve the nutrient management of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where nutrients are invariably in surplus. To create proper nutrient management strategies for CAFOs, and to avoid environmental problems when surplus nutrients enter air, soil and water, we need to know the number of animals/birds in the unit, the quantity of manure/slurry produced, how this material is stored and handled and how much land is available for manure spreading. In this paper, we discuss the development of nutrient management strategies for CAFOs in Europe and North America, and the voluntary measures and environmental regulations related to this. For the planning of nutrient management to be comprehensive and efficient, we need expertise from several disciplines. This planning includes development of: animal diets that reduce the amounts of excreted nutrients; efficient storage and land application technologies; land application programmes to optimize yields and reduce nutrient losses; and strategies for use of excess manure outside the farm. Also, large-scale efforts involving many stakeholders (farmers, governments and private industry) are needed to solve problems with nutrient imbalances over the long term. Efforts along these lines include manure relocation, alternative uses of manures, nutrient trading, and a general extensification of animal agriculture. The overall guiding principle for policies and planning should be a balance of nutrients, on farms as well as at larger scales

Published in

Soil Use and Management
2005, Volume: 21, pages: 141-151

      SLU Authors

    • Bergström, Lars

      • Department of Soil Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science

    Publication Identifiers


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