Nitrogen fertiliser management with zone characterisation in grazed pasture systems
Spatial information is frequently used for managing arable crops. The idea of developing management zones is often to enable accurate fertiliser supply for local crop needs. This helps avoid excessive introduction of nutrients, such as nitrogen, into the environment, and also to reduce fertiliser costs. Despite the success of this concept in arable farming, it is a poorly adopted practice for the management of grazed pastures. Grazed pasture systems have an additional level of complexity compared to monoculture, annual crops. Pastures are typically perennial in nature with short intervals between harvests (by a grazing animal) and therefore require fertiliser applications to maintain biomass production. Additionally, pastures often consist of two or more desirable plant species and the distribution of waste from livestock results in many small patches of very high nutrient content. We propose a concept to create management zones of grazed dairy pastures, using the spatial attributes of pasture paddocks. The target will be to identify zones of most likely high nitrogen availability and use this information to estimate the required local fertiliser target. The spatial information required for this approach may include: soil variation, irrigation, animal density, slope, farm infrastructure (i.e troughs and shelter) and previous pasture growth. Using a geographical information system, the spatial information for an area can be utilised to create map layers. These layers can then be spatially related and zones for the application of varying amounts of fertiliser can be developed at the sub-paddock scale. We are in theprocess of deriving response curves for N-ramps on selected paddocks in NZ and Australia which have sufficient spatial variability of the mentioned site characteristics. We undertook a theoretical feasibility study to compare both uniform and variable nitrogen fertiliser application as an initial investigation of the potential benefit of zone management. The integrated result (value of feed –cost of fertiliser –cost of environmental impact) of applying nitrogen variably across a paddock of dynamic soil using a non-linear response function was slightly lower than for uniform application. It is expected however, that increased understanding of spatial variables in pastures will increase the benefits of zone management.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsgrazed pasture systems; nitrogen; fertiliser managment; management zone; fertiliser management; nitrogen zon characterisation
Fields of Research079902 Fertilisers and Agrochemicals (incl. Application); 070302 Agronomy
TypeConference Contribution - Published (Conference Paper)
- Lincoln Agritech 
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