Snap-Shot Assessments of Nutrient Use on Dairy Farms

Dairy, Animal Manure Management July 23, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Nutrient Use Efficiency

Escalations in feed and fertilizer cost, and ebbing milk prices are motivating many dairy farmers to find new ways to improve nutrient use efficiency (NUE) on their farms. But how can NUE be determined and monitored easily on dairy farms, and what improvement in NUE can be realistically expected? Over the past several years researchers at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been developing and using rapid assessment methods to provide snap-shot assessments of feed, fertilizer, and manure use on dairy farms in various settings. The most recent work was a survey of 54 Wisconsin dairy farms known as On Farmers’ Ground.

Snap-Shot Assessments of Nutrient Use on Dairy Farms Webcast

This webcast describes and demonstrates the usefulness of using rapid assessment methods to provide snap-shot assessments of feed, fertilizer, and manure use on dairy farms in various settings.

Resources Available Through "On Farmers' Ground"

  • Fact Sheet which outlines the procedures used to provide ‘snap-shot’ assessments of feed, fertilizer and manure use. Some examples are provided of the information obtained using snap-shot assessment techniques.
  • Survey Questionnaire designed to compile information on herd size and composition, livestock facilities, land use, management practices, and motivations and goals related to feed, fertilizer and manure management.
  • Manure Tracking Book used to systematically tract how, when and where farmers spread manure, and factors that influenced farmer decisions related to manure management.
  • Final Farmer Report which contains analytical results of feed and manure samples taken during the farm visits, including information on how farmers may use these results to improve feed and manure management. The Final Farmer Report also contains estimates of manure collection, as well as a series of farm maps depicting crop rotations, manure spreading practices, nitrogen and phosphorus applications as fertilizer, manure and legume-fixed N, and farm cropland areas that are impacted by USDA-NRCS 590 Nutrient Management Standards.
  • Four scientific journal articles related to the On Farmers' Ground project

Author

J. Mark Powell
Soil Scientist-Agroecology, USDA-ARS US Dairy Forage Research Center
Professor of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1925 Linden Drive West
Madison, WI 53706
<mark.powell@ars.usda.gov>

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.