5 research outputs found

    Nutrient Management Approaches and Tools for Dairy Farms in Australia and the U.S.

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    Nutrient surpluses in industrialized nations like the U.S. and Australia are causing problems on dairy farms and posing a threat to the rest of the environment. This paper discusses tools that dairy farmers can use to manage the excess nutrients while continuing to meet demands and profit. The authors suggest improvements in these tools that will not only quantify the amount of nutrient balances on dairy farms, but also identify opportunities for enhanced nutrient use and reduced nutrient losses.Nutrient Management Tools, Australian Dairy Farms, U.S. Dairy Farms, Confinement-based Dairy Operations, Grazing-based Diary Operations, Environmental Economics and Policy, Farm Management, Land Economics/Use,

    Nutrient Management Approaches and Tools for Dairy Farms in Australia and the U.S.

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    Nutrient surpluses in industrialized nations like the U.S. and Australia are causing problems on dairy farms and posing a threat to the rest of the environment. This paper discusses tools that dairy farmers can use to manage the excess nutrients while continuing to meet demands and profit. The authors suggest improvements in these tools that will not only quantify the amount of nutrient balances on dairy farms, but also identify opportunities for enhanced nutrient use and reduced nutrient losses

    The ‘Dairy Nitrogen Fertiliser Advisor’ - a method of testing farmers’ fertiliser decisions against a meta-analysis N-response function

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    Decisions about using N fertiliser rely typically on rules based on expected average pasture responses to N applied, a flawed criterion from the perspective of production economic theory. In this paper, the rationale for a web-based tool called the ‘Dairy Nitrogen Fertiliser Advisor’ (the ‘N-Advisor’) is presented. The tool uses marginal analysis to inform dairy farmers and their advisors about how a range of N applications applied to a particular paddock for a particular grazing rotation add to profits. The tool contains response functions for each Australian state and season derived from a meta-analysis of experiments in pasture yield response to nitrogenous fertiliser undertaken across Australia during the past 40 years. The response functions have the Mitscherlich form and exhibit the biologically sound diminishing returns required for the economic analysis. The N-Advisor enables the decision-maker to explore the effect of changes in fertiliser costs and the value of the extra pasture consumed on the N application that provides the minimum acceptable rate of return on investment. It also enables uncertainty associated with the fertiliser investment to be considered. The production and profit information that can be estimated using the N-Advisor has sufficient rigour and relevance to add value to decisions dairy farmers make about applying N

    Nitrogen performance indicators for dairy production systems

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    Nitrogen (N) is invaluable for maintaining agricultural production, but its use, and particularly inefficient use, can lead to environmental losses. This paper reviews N use efficiency (NUE) and N surplus indicators for dairy production systems to assess their utility for optimising N use outcomes and minimising environmental N losses. Using case-study examples, we also assess realistic goals for these indicators and discuss key issues associated with their use. Published whole-farm NUE and whole-farm N surplus values ranged within 10-65% and 40-700kg N ha-1 year-1 respectively. In a study of five catchments across New Zealand, whole-farm NUE was more strongly affected by catchment differences in soil and climatic conditions than by differences in management. In contrast, whole-farm N surplus differed both between-and within-catchments and was a good indicator of N losses to water. Realistic goals for both NUE and N surplus thus depend on the agro-climatic context of the dairy system and on its economic and environmental goals. Crop and animal NUE values can be valuable indicators for optimising fertiliser and feed use and minimising N losses. However, global or national whole-farm NUE values appear of limited value if the ultimate goal for setting targets is to reduce the environmental impact of N use; whole-farm level targets based on N surplus would be a more useful indicator for this purpose. Our review also reinforces the importance of standardising the variables that should be used to estimate NUE and N surplus values, to ensure equitable comparisons between different systems. Finally, NUE and N surplus targets should also be set in the context of other agro-environmental considerations
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