Lynn M. VanWieringena, Joe H. Harrisona, Tamilee Nennicha, Debra L. Davidsona, Lloyd Morgana, Shulin Chenb, Mike Buelerc and Floyd Hoisingtond
Legislation in the United States has recently focused on improving water quality by establishing management practices that limit the quantities of nutrients entering the water supply. Timely application and quantification of the amount of manure applied throughout the grass-growing season can reduce the loss of nutrients into ground or surface water while improving the quality and quantity of grass harvested. During the 2001 and 2002 growing seasons, we measured the effects of different manure application rates on grass yields, grass nutritive value, and soil chemistry on a dairy farm. On-farm estimates of manure N were combined with yield estimates and forage quality measures to evaluate the effects of varying levels of manure application. Yield estimates, N content of grass, and the amount of N in soil and manure were monitored at each cutting for plots amended at different manure application rates. There are three major outcomes of this evaluation: (i) new grass seedings were at higher risk of elevated levels of nitrate N in forage; (ii) increased forage nitrate N at harvest was associated with malfermented silage and increased levels of ammonia N, which resulted in less efficient use of metabolizable protein for milk production; and (iii) increased understanding of N cycling between manure, soil, and plant provided an opportunity to reduce purchased fertilizer.
Abbreviations: CP, crude protein • CPM, Cornell–Penn–Minor
Source: J. Environ. Qual. 34:164-173 (2005).