Nitrogen use efficiency on dairy farms with different grazing systems in northwestern Germany

Löw, Philipp GND; Karatay, Yusuf Nadi GND; Osterburg, Bernhard GND

Agricultural production is often accompanied by nitrogen (N) losses causing negative environmental effects. In order to assess dairy farms´N management, appropriate indicators based on robust farm data need to b addressed. This study investigated N balance and N use efficiency (NUE) as a function of grazing intensity on specialized dairy farms in northwestern Germany. For that, 30 farms were grouped according to pasture management from full grazing to zero grazing:>10h in group1, 6 to 10h in group2,<6hin group 3, and group 4 without pasture access. Based on multiple farm data, substance flow analysis was carried out. Subsequently, the data were analyzed according to the relevant indicators N surplus and NUE on feed-, field- and farm-level. The results revealed N surpluses on all farms, with the average N surplus tending to decrease from 259 to 179 kg N ha−1, and farm-NUE to increase from 40 to 50 %, from full grazing to zero grazing management systems. There were considerable differences between the N balances calculated in this study and those reported by farms as part of statutory net N soil surface balance reporting under the German regulatory law. In conclusion, the N indicators were suitable to compare farm performance among and within different dairy farming systems. When comparing indicator values there is a need to consider the methodology applied, the system boundaries set, and the origin and quality of data used.

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Löw, Philipp / Karatay, Yusuf / Osterburg, Bernhard: Nitrogen use efficiency on dairy farms with different grazing systems in northwestern Germany. 2020.

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