Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Meredith, G. R., Spiegal, S., Kleinman, P. J. A., & Harmel, D. (2022). The social networks of manureshed management. Journal of Environmental Quality, 1–14.


Open access


Manureshed management—the strategic use of manure nutrients that prioritizes recycling between livestock systems and cropping systems—provides a comprehensive framework for sustainable nutrient management that necessitates the collaboration of many actors. Understanding the social dimensions of collaboration is critical to implement the strategic and technological requirements of functional manuresheds. To improve this understanding, we identified aspirational networks of actors involved in manureshed management across local, regional, and national scales, principally in the United States, elucidating key relationships and highlighting the breadth of interactions essential to successful manureshed management. We concluded that, although the social networks vary with scale, the involvement of a common core set of actors and relationships appears to be universal to the successful integration of modern livestock and crop production systems necessary for functional manuresheds. Our analysis also reveals that, in addition to agricultural producers, local actors in extension and advisory services and private and public sectors ensure optimal outcomes at all scales. For manureshed management to successfully integrate crop and livestock production and sustainably manage manure nutrient resources at each scale, the full complement of actors identified in these social networks is critical to generate innovation and ensure collaboration continuity.