Dairy Manure Management: An Application of Probabilistic Risk Assessment
- Andrew Johnson *,
- Amy Purvis Thurow and
- Donald Vietor
Contemporary agricultural enterprises are having difficulty dealing with changing public perceptions about the environmental consequences of current management practices. This study was initiated to investigate the role Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) could play in managing risks and communicating risk information to regulators and the public. The utility of PRA for dairy manure and wastewater management systems was evaluated on three Texas dairies beginning in spring 1992. Information collected from dairymen, along with computerized risk analysis, was used to develop risk estimates for various environmental hazards associated with the dairies. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of individual probability estimates allowed evaluation of the risks posed by various potential nutrient loss pathways. Integration of these probability estimates with simple cost-effectiveness evaluations provided a risk/cost-effectiveness value used in comparing alternative waste management technologies. Results indicate PRA, wedded with cost-effectiveness analysis, may provide a new and effective way for the agricultural community to evaluate, manage, and communicate risk information.
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