New Website Helps Manage Dairy Nitrogen
March 12, 2007
A free, interactive website is now
available to help dairy producers better manage nitrogen on their farms. It's
the result of cooperative work by scientists with the Agricultural Research
Cornell University and the
University of Vermont, funded by a U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Fund for
Rural America grant.
Though nitrogen is an essential nutrient for crop and animal production,
feeding too much of it in livestock rations, or applying an excess as
fertilizer or manure to crops, can increase its runoff into surface and
groundwater, or its loss into the air. And since commercial feeds and
fertilizers are significantand expensivesources of nitrogen,
maximizing nitrogen use efficiency is very important to dairy producers and the
ARS soil scientist
Meisinger, with the
Management and By-Product Utilization Laboratory at Beltsville, Md., helped
develop "Nitrogen Management on Dairy Farms," which can be accessed
at www.dairyn.cornell.edu. There,
users will find 58 linked pages of mixed-media content covering management of
crops and soils, feed storage, dairy herd nutrition and manure use.
The website is part tutorial, with interactive diagrams to aid in the review
of information, as well as quizzes. Instruction is provided on sampling and
testing manure, soil and crops for nitrogen. Information is also available on
interpreting test results and calculating the amount of plant-available
nitrogen present in a manure sample. Given the high cost of fertilizer,
accounting for manure nitrogen can greatly improve farm profitability. A
downloadable spreadsheet, called the "Manure Nutrient Calculator," is
provided as an example of a manure-crediting system used in New York State.
State and federal research on managing the fate and transport of nitrogen in
animal manure is used to formulate best-management practices. Case studies on
the website illustrate how farms have made changes to reduce nutrient
imbalances and losses by taking a whole-farm approach to nutrient management.
more about this research in the March 2007 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the USDA's chief scientific research agency.