Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Quantifying dairy farm nutrient fluxes and balances for improved assessment of environmental performance

Innocent Rugoho A , Hayden Lewis B , Muhammad Islam C , Andrew McAllister B , Gemma Heemskerk D , Andrew Gourley A and Cameron Gourley A E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Agriculture Research, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, 1301 Hazeldean Road, Ellinbank, Vic. 3821, Australia.

B Agriculture Research, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, 255 Ferguson Road, Tatura, Vic. 3616, Australia.

C Agriculture Research, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Corner Taylor Street and Midland Highway, Epsom, Vic. 3551, Australia.

D Agriculture Research, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, 32 Lincoln Square North, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: cameron.gourley@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN16440
Submitted: 14 July 2016  Accepted: 20 February 2017   Published online: 6 April 2017

Abstract

Excess nutrients are challenging the long-term sustainability of grazing-based dairy farming. Whole-farm nutrient-mass balance (NMB) is a well recognised approach to improve on-farm nutrient management decisions. In the present paper, we use a standardised approach for quantifying NMB on grazing-based dairy farms, using a newly developed online tool. Preliminary evaluation, using selected farm data from a previous Australia-wide dairy-farm nutrient study, demonstrated highly comparable estimates of farm area, nutrient fluxes and NMB, with substantial efficiencies in time and sample analysis. Nutrient mass balances were also determined on 16 diverse dairy farms across the five major dairy regions of Victoria, Australia. These results highlighted the importance of purchased feed, fertiliser and milk sales, as major sources of nutrient inputs and outputs, with whole-farm NMB for the 16 dairy farms ranging from 185 to 481 kg/ha for nitrogen, 12–59 kg/ha for phosphorus, 9–244 kg/ha for potassium and –6–55 kg/ha for sulfur. Current industry adoption of the NMB tool has confirmed the benefits of a standardised and efficient collation and processing of readily available farm data to inform nutrient management decisions on commercial dairy farms. We suggest that the standardised assessment of nutrient fluxes, balances and efficiency, as well as feed- and milk-production performance at the whole-farm level, provides dairy farmers, farm advisors and industry and policy analysts with the ability to determine industry-wide goals and improve environmental performance.

Additional keywords: grazing-based dairy, nutrient mass balance, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, nutrient-use efficiency.


References

Blackburn G, McLeod S (1983) Salinity of atmospheric precipitation in the Murray–Darling drainage division, Australia. Australian Journal of Soil Research 21, 411–434.
Salinity of atmospheric precipitation in the Murray–Darling drainage division, Australia.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaL2cXhtVOjsLg%3D&md5=286d7f51559c5ca4708c1a52285d82f3CAS |

Cela S, Ketterings QM, Czymmek K, Soberon M, Rasmussen C (2014) Characterization of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium mass balances of dairy farms in New York State. Journal of Dairy Science 97, 7614–7632.
Characterization of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium mass balances of dairy farms in New York State.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC2cXhvVars7rM&md5=a6698296dece83320fff80855c38f6efCAS |

Dairy Australia (2015a) ‘Dairy feeding update.’ Briefing notes 2015. Available at http://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/~/media/Documents/Pastures%20and%20feeding/Feed%20management/Dairy%20Feeding% 20Update%20-%20Briefing%20notes.pdf [Verified 7April 2016]

Dairy Australia (2015b) ‘The Australian dairy industry in focus 2015.’ Available at http://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/Industry-information/About-Dairy Australia/~/media/Documents/Stats%20and%20markets/Australian%20Dairy%20Industry%20In%20Focus/Australian%20Dairy%20Industry%20In%20Focus%202015.pdf [Verified 21 June 2016]

de Wit CT (1992) Resource use efficiency in agriculture. Agricultural Systems 40, 125–151.
Resource use efficiency in agriculture.CrossRef |

Fangueiro D, Pereira J, Coutinho J, Moreira N, Trindade H (2008) NPK farm-gate nutrient balances in dairy farms from northwest Portugal. European Journal of Agriculture 28, 625–634.

Fuglie KO (2012) Productivity growth and technology capital in the global agricultural economy. In ‘Productivity growth in agriculture: an international perspective’. (Eds KO Fuglie, SL Wang, VE Ball) pp. 335–368. (CAB International: Cambridge, UK)

Gourley CJP, Powell JM, Dougherty WJ, Weaver DM (2007) Nutrient budgeting as an approach to improving nutrient management on Australian dairy farms. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 47, 1064–1074.
Nutrient budgeting as an approach to improving nutrient management on Australian dairy farms.CrossRef |

Gourley CJP, Dougherty WJ, Weaver DM, Aarons SH, Awty IM, Gibson DM, Hannah MC, Smith AP, Peverill KI (2012) Farm-scale nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur balances and use efficiences on Australian dairy farms. Animal Production Science 52, 929–944.
Farm-scale nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur balances and use efficiences on Australian dairy farms.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC38Xht1GrsL7O&md5=c930662a0fe828525ca2e9879b8b1c81CAS |

Gourley CJP, Aarons SH, Hannah M, Awty IM, Dougherty WJ, Burkitt LL (2015) Soil phosphorus, potassium and sulphur excesses, regularities and heterogeneity in grazing-based dairy farms. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 201, 70–82.
Soil phosphorus, potassium and sulphur excesses, regularities and heterogeneity in grazing-based dairy farms.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC2MXhvVWqurc%3D&md5=d437e98c4c082113e93fc39924d647fbCAS |

Hanegraaf MC, den Boer DJ (2003) Perspectives and limitations of the Dutch mineral accounting system (MINAS). European Journal of Agronomy 20, 25–31.
Perspectives and limitations of the Dutch mineral accounting system (MINAS).CrossRef |

Hingston FJ, Gailitis V (1976) The geographic variation of salt precipitated over Western Australia. Australian Journal of Soil Research 14, 319–335.
The geographic variation of salt precipitated over Western Australia.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaE2sXns1ehsA%3D%3D&md5=83b6cf0b41a1a7da3cff9e31e524979bCAS |

Hutton JT, Leslie TI (1958) Accession of non-nitrogenous ions dissolved in rainwater to soils in Victoria. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 9, 492–507.
Accession of non-nitrogenous ions dissolved in rainwater to soils in Victoria.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaG1cXhtVWgtbY%3D&md5=ffab0694becb96a09328bcd25d87a612CAS |

Jacobs JL (2014) Challenges in ration formulation in pasture-based milk production systems. Animal Production Science 54, 1130–1140.

Jarvis S, Hutchings N, Brentrup F, Olesen JE, van der Hoek KW, Greennfelt P, van Grinsven H (2011) Nitrogen flows in farming systems across Europe. In ‘The European nitrogen assessment: sources, effects and policy perspectives’. (Eds MA Sutton, CA Howard, JA Erisman, A Bleeker, B Grizzetti) pp. 211–228. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK)

Ketterings QM, Kahabka JE, Reid WS (2005) Trends in phosphorus fertility of New York agricultural land. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 60, 10–20.

Ketterings QM, Albrecht GL, Rasmussen CN, Czymmek KJ (2006) Cornell Cropware: decision support tool for fertiliser and manure nutrient management planning. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education 35, 140–151.

Kolver ES (2000) Nutritional guidelines for the high producing dairy cow. Proceedings of the Ruakura Dairy Farmers’ Conference 51, 17–28.

Ledgard SF, Sprosen MS, Penno JW, Rajendram GS (2001) Nitrogen fixation by white clover in pastures grazed by dairy cows: temporal variation and effects of nitrogen fertilization. Plant and Soil 229, 177–187.
Nitrogen fixation by white clover in pastures grazed by dairy cows: temporal variation and effects of nitrogen fertilization.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD3MXit1aqu7o%3D&md5=68b539d6854286a9acc14e38ce02d8c7CAS |

Lin LI (1989) A concordance correlation coefficient to evaluate reproducibility. Biometrics 45, 255–268.
A concordance correlation coefficient to evaluate reproducibility.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DyaL1M3kslKrtg%3D%3D&md5=04bedbea808101387e53a30e2d054f69CAS |

Lowell K, Smith L, Miller I, Pettit C, Seymour E (2012) Extension activity support system (EASY): a web-based prototype for facilitating farm management. Future Internet 4, 42–64.
Extension activity support system (EASY): a web-based prototype for facilitating farm management.CrossRef |

McAllister A, Lewis H, Islam S, Robson S, Young G (2014) ‘FarmWeb 2.0: version 0.03. Prototype. Mapping demonstration manual.’ (Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources: Tatura, Vic.)

Monaghan RM, Wilcock RJ, Smith LC, Tikkisetty B, Thorrold BS, Costall D (2007) Linkages between land management activities and water quality in an intensively farmed catchment in southern New Zealand. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 118, 211–222.
Linkages between land management activities and water quality in an intensively farmed catchment in southern New Zealand.CrossRef |

Mulier A, Hofman G, Baecke E, Carlier L, de Brabander D, de Groote G, deWilde R, Fiems L, Janssen G, Van Cleemput O, Van Herck A, Van Huylenbroeck G, Verbruggen I (2003) A methodology for the calculation of farm level nitrogen and phosphorus balances in Flemish agriculture. European Journal of Agronomy 20, 45–51.
A methodology for the calculation of farm level nitrogen and phosphorus balances in Flemish agriculture.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD3sXpt1Sgtbg%3D&md5=6318623a4dd48cc174a7e519aa9ecaf5CAS |

Nevens F, Verbruggen I, Reheul D, Hofman G (2006) Farm gate nitrogen surpluses and nitrogen use efficiency of specialized dairy farms in Flanders: evolution and futuregoals. Agricultural Systems 88, 142–155.
Farm gate nitrogen surpluses and nitrogen use efficiency of specialized dairy farms in Flanders: evolution and futuregoals.CrossRef |

NRC (2000) ‘Nutrient requirement of beef cattle.’ 7th edn. (National Academy Press: Washington, DC)

NRC (2001) ‘Nutrient requirement of dairy cattle.’ 7th edn. (National Academy Press: Washington, DC)

Öborn I, Edwards AC, Witter E, Oenema O, Ivarsson K, Withers PJA, Nilsson SI, Richert Stinzing A (2003) Element balances as a tool for sustainable nutrient management: a critical appraisal of their merits and limitations within an agronomic and environmental context. European Journal of Agronomy 20, 211–225.
Element balances as a tool for sustainable nutrient management: a critical appraisal of their merits and limitations within an agronomic and environmental context.CrossRef |

Oenema O, Kros H, de Vries W (2003) Approaches and uncertainties in nutrient budgets: implications for nutrient management and environmental policies. European Journal of Agronomy 20, 3–16.
Approaches and uncertainties in nutrient budgets: implications for nutrient management and environmental policies.CrossRef |

Oenema O, Witzke HP, Klimont Z, Lesschen JP, Velthof GL (2009) Integrated assessment of promising measures to decrease nitrogen losses from agriculture in EU-27. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 133, 280–288.
Integrated assessment of promising measures to decrease nitrogen losses from agriculture in EU-27.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD1MXptl2ht7o%3D&md5=5470cb13a652d244536a8693f9d82d96CAS |

Pettit CJ, Bishop ID, Cartwright WE, Park G, Kemp O (2007) Enhancing web based farm management software through the use of visualisation technologies. In ‘International congress on modeling and simulation.’ (Eds L Oxley, D Kulasiri) pp. 1280–1286. (Modeling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand: Christchurch, New Zealand)

Plaizier JC, Legesse G, Ominski KH, Flaten D (2014) Whole-farm budgets of phosphorus and potassium on dairy farms in Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 94, 119–128.
Whole-farm budgets of phosphorus and potassium on dairy farms in Manitoba.CrossRef |

Powell JM, Gourley CJP, Rotz CA, Weaver DM (2010) Nitrogen use efficiency: a measurable performance indicator for dairy farms. Environmental Science & Policy 13, 217–228.
Nitrogen use efficiency: a measurable performance indicator for dairy farms.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3cXlsFOgsr0%3D&md5=6fefe72d4a866b6680984aa19a5da9a6CAS |

Powell JM, MacLeod M, Vellinga TV, Opio C, Falcucci A, Tempio G, Steinfeld H, Gerber P (2013) Feed–milk–manure nitrogen relationships in global dairy production systems. Livestock Science 152, 261–272.
Feed–milk–manure nitrogen relationships in global dairy production systems.CrossRef |

Probert ME (1976) The composition of rainwater at two sites near Townsville, Qld. Australian Journal of Soil Research 14, 397–402.
The composition of rainwater at two sites near Townsville, Qld.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaE2sXns1ehsQ%3D%3D&md5=488d0b31e97fc695c237476280dc5549CAS |

Roberts AM, Park G, Melland AR, Miller I (2009) Trialling a web-based spatial information management tool with Land Managers in Victoria, Australia. Journal of Environmental Management 91, 523–531.
Trialling a web-based spatial information management tool with Land Managers in Victoria, Australia.CrossRef |

Rotz CA, Taube F, Russelle MP, Oenema J, Sanderson MA, Wachendorf M (2005) Whole-farm perspectives of nutrient flows in grassland agriculture. Crop Science 45, 2139–2159.
Whole-farm perspectives of nutrient flows in grassland agriculture.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD2MXht1OktbzE&md5=5b44cde9374a476740553e534cae0f1eCAS |

Rugoho I, Gourley CJP, Hannah M (2016) Nutritive characteristics, mineral concentrations and dietary cation-anion difference of feeds used within grazing-based dairy farms in Australia. Animal Production Science
Nutritive characteristics, mineral concentrations and dietary cation-anion difference of feeds used within grazing-based dairy farms in Australia.CrossRef |

Schröder JJ, Aarts HFM, ten Berge HFM, van Keulen JJ, Neeteson JJ (2003) An evaluation of whole-farm nitrogen balances and related indices for efficient nitrogen use. European Journal of Agronomy 20, 33–44.
An evaluation of whole-farm nitrogen balances and related indices for efficient nitrogen use.CrossRef |

Soberon MA, Ketterings QM, Rasmussen CN, Czymmek KJ (2013) Whole-farm nutrient balance calculator for New York dairy farms. Natural Sciences Education 42, 57–67.

Stott KJ, Gourley CJP (2016) Intensification, nitrogen use and recovery in grazing-based dairy systems. Agricultural Systems 144, 101–112.
Intensification, nitrogen use and recovery in grazing-based dairy systems.CrossRef |

Sutton MA, Bleeker A, Howard CM, Bekunda M, Grizzetti B, de Vries W, van Grinsven HJM, Abrol YP, Adhya TK, Billen G, Davidson EA, Datta A, Diaz R, Erisman JW, Liu XJ, Oenema O, Palm C, Raghuram N, Reis S, Scholz RW, Sims T, Westhoek H, Zhang FS (2013) ‘Our nutrient world: the challenge to produce more food and energy with less pollution. Global overview of nutrient management.’ Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh, on behalf of the Global Partnership on Nutrient Management and the International Nitrogen Initiative. Available at http://initrogen.org/index.php.publications/our-nutrient-world/ [Verified 4 May 2016]

Thysen I (2000) Agricultural in the Information Society. Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research 76, 297–303.
Agricultural in the Information Society.CrossRef |

Treacy M, Humphreys J, McNamara K, Browne R, Watson CJ (2008) Farm-gate nitrogen balances on intensive dairy farms in the South West of Ireland. Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research 47, 105–117.

Vigiak OT, Thayalakumaran T, Beverly C, Roberts A, Stott K (2013) Estimating the impact of grazing industry on nitrogen loads of the Moe River catchment. In ‘MODSIM2013, 20th international congress on modelling and simulation’, December 2013, Adelaide, Australia. (Eds J Piantadosi, RS Anderssen, J Boland) pp. 2506–2512. (Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand)

Wheeler D, Ledgard SF, Monaghan RM, McDowell R, DeKlien C (2006) OVERSEER development: what is it and what it does. In ‘Implementing sustainable nutrient management strategies in agriculture. Occasional report No. 19’. (Eds LD Currie, JA Hanly) pp. 231–236. (Massey University: Palmerston North, New Zealand)



Export Citation

View Altmetrics