Submitted to: International Grasslands Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 8, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Proper nutrient management is critical for economically and environmentally sustainable perennial forage production, but adequate information about actual on-farm practices is limited. In this paper, I discuss philosophies of fertilization, review current recommendations of public soil testing labs in the USA, and provide the first report of statewide nutrient management practices on dairy farms in the North Central USA. N fertilizer recommendations generally are based on yield goal, with highest amounts recommended for warm season grasses in the humid South. P and K recommendations are related to soil test levels and occasionally to yield goals. Nutrient recommendations for pastures typically are smaller or are similar to mown forages, unless management intensity differs. Nearly all states recommend that nutrient credits be taken for manure application, and many make detailed recommendations concerning proper manure management. Site specific farming techniques are beginning to be used with perennial forages in some areas. Soil tests are the most important source of information for nutrient recommendations for Minnesota dairy farmers, and fertilizer dealers are the next most important. Daily or frequent manure hauling is the most typical manure handling practice, followed by manure pack in livestock housing and lagoon storage of liquid manure. Nearly 80% of soil tests showed P levels >20 mg/kg and about 50% had exchangable K >160 mg/kg, indicating that sufficient levels of both nutrients are present. Results of this research demonstrate the diversity of nutrient management systems on contemporary dairy farms, and suggest that for Minnesota, USA, information on improved approaches should be directed to fertilizer dealers to achieve most rapid transfer to dairy farmers.