J. Mark Powell


J. Mark Powell – Professor

Environmental impacts of ruminant livestock, nutrient cycling, effects of livestock manure on soil nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon cycling and crop productivity, integrated nutrient management on dairy farms.

UW-Madison, Department of Soil Science
1525 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1299, USA
Office: US Dairy Forage Research Center, 1925 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706

Phone: 608.890.0070
Fax: 608.890.0076

Email: mark.powell@ars.usda.gov

Program Affiliations

  • Department of Soil Science
  • Research Soil Scientist, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, US Dairy Forage Research Center


  • AA Science, 1972, Camden County College, NJ
  • BS (with honors) Plant Sciences, 1979, Clemson University, SC
  • MPS International Agriculture & Rural Development, 1982, Cornell University, NY
  • PhD Agronomy, 1989, Texas A&M University, TX

Awards and Honors

Dr. Powell’s most significant, recent awards and honors are:

  • Distinguished Expert, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, 2011-2012.
  • ‘Tannin extracts abate ammonia emissions from simulated barn floors’ selected for special press release by American Society of Agronomy, 2011.
  • Nominated for USDA-ARS National Technology Transfer Award ‘For development and transfer of tools for rapid assessment of nutrient use efficiency across diverse dairy farm types in the U.S. and abroad’, 2011.
  • Led team nominated for Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) Excellence in Technology Transfer Award for ‘Snapshots of nutrient use efficiency on dairy farms’, 2011.
  • Outstanding Alumnus Award, Camden County College (CCC), Blackwood, NJ. (CCC is the second largest higher education institution in NJ, after Rutgers University), 2009.
  • ‘Nitrogen budget and soil N dynamics after multiple applications of unlabeled or 15N-enriched dairy manure’ selected for special press release by Soil Science Society of America, 2004.
  • ‘Crop-livestock interactions in the west African drylands’ selected for special press release by American Society of Agronomy, 2004.
  • Led team nominated for USDA-ARS National Technology Transfer Award for ‘…unusually effective outreach efforts to convince dairy producers, their consultants and the feed industry that phosphorus content of dairy diets should be reduced’, 2003.

Teaching and Research Overview

Dairy Forage Research Center Website

Dr. Powell utilizes soil, crop, dairy and social sciences in an agro-ecological approach to 1) determine the effects of dairy diets on soluble nutrient forms (e.g., urine N, water-soluble P) in manure, nutrient (N and P) use efficiencies and the environmental performance of dairy farms; 2) develop a) herd and manure management practices that improve manure collection, distribution and recycling in soils/crops-pasture on dairy farms; b) improved determinations of manure N availability to crops/pasture; and c) manure land application techniques that minimize nutrient loss via ammonia volatilization, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and nitrate leaching and runoff; 3) evaluate and develop ammonia and GHG emission abatement strategies for barns, outside cattle-holding areas (e.g., barnyards, feed bunk areas), and other dairy farm components; and 4) develop tools for farmers and farm advisors to measure, monitor and evaluate nutrient use efficiency in dairy production components, and to improve overall nutrient use, nutrient balances and environmental impacts of dairy production.

Dr. Powell is internationally recognized as an authority on nutrient cycling and environmental impacts of mixed crop-livestock systems in temperate, sub-tropical and tropical environments. He is called upon by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), USDA-Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for his expertise in nutrient cycles of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and the USA. He has been invited to lead research program reviews in Australia, for the World Bank, USAID, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). He was elected to represent Global Agronomy on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Agronomy (2009-2011), was Chair of the Technical Advisory Panel for USAID’s Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program (2009-2011), Chair of Wisconsin’s Air Emissions Task Force: Dairy (2010-2011), and Member of Agriculture Working Group, USDA Office of the Chief Economist, Climate Change Program (2011-2013). He was invited as a Distinguished Expert to spend a sabbatical leave at FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy (2011-2012)

Selected Publications

Dr. Powell has published (as of November 2012) approximately 200 research papers, of which 70 are refereed journal articles, 9 book chapters, numerous consultant reports, and a wide variety of materials targeted specifically for technology transfer. A list of his publications can be viewed here.