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Title: A nitrogen index for improving nutrient management within commercial Mexican dairy operations

Author
item FIGUEROA-VIRAMONTES, URIEL - INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE INVESTIGACIONES FORESTALES Y AGROPECUARIAS (INIFAP)
item Delgado, Jorge
item SANCHEZ-DUARTE, JUAN - INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE INVESTIGACIONES FORESTALES Y AGROPECUARIAS (INIFAP)
item OCHOA-MARTINEZ, ESMERALDA - INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE INVESTIGACIONES FORESTALES Y AGROPECUARIAS (INIFAP)
item NUNEZ-HERNANDEZ, GREGORIO - INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE INVESTIGACIONES FORESTALES Y AGROPECUARIAS (INIFAP)

Submitted to: International Soil and Water Conservation Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/21/2016
Publication Date: 3/15/2016
Citation: Figueroa-Viramontes, U., Delgado, J.A., Sanchez-Duarte, J., Ochoa-Martinez, E., Nunez-Hernandez, G. 2016. A nitrogen index for improving nutrient management within commercial Mexican dairy operations. International Soil and Water Conservation Research. 4(1):1-5. doi:10.1016/j.iswcr.2016.02.005.

Interpretive Summary: The Nitrogen Index was able to simulate the effects of management of forage oats and forage corn systems in commercial fields in Mexico on nitrogen uptake and residual nitrate in the soil profile. The tool can be used to evaluate the effects of management practices on nitrogen dynamics and to provide information about the potential to increase N fertilizer efficiency. The newest version of the Nitrogen Index allows users to quickly assess the effects of fertilizer or manure inputs on residual soil nitrate and nitrogen uptake in an interactive way, and can help users get additional information about the potential to increase N use efficiency and reduce N losses to the environment.

Technical Abstract: Dairy farm operations in Mexico are contributing to large, negative environmental impacts across some regions. These regions are traditionally dominated by large concentrations of dairy animals and intensive operations. Some of these dairy forage systems receive extremely large manure inputs and additional nitrogen (N) fertilizers, and in some cases the background nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) levels in the irrigation water are so high that the water is not safe for human consumption. Commercial farmers in this region do not use methods to rapidly calculate N budgets based on their practices as far as N inputs and crop N uptake. The Nitrogen Index, a quick tool that can be used to conduct an assessment within a few minutes, was developed for Mexico, but needed further testing under commercial field operations. We conducted studies during 2010 and 2011 and collected soil and crop information to test the tool across commercial farm operations. The Nitrogen Index tool accurately assessed the residual soil nitrate in the soil systems after harvesting of forage systems such as corn and oats (P<0.01); it also accurately assessed the N uptake of these crops (P<0.01). The Mexico N Index is a tool that can be used to quickly conduct N balances, show when N is being over-applied, and help reduce over-application of N in order to reduce N losses to the environment, and thus improve management of these dairy forage systems in Mexico.