News & Articles

Nitrogen and Feeds – David Pacheco, AgResearch

Farmers use Nitrogen (N) to increase forage yields and increase profitability, however, there has been increasing requirements to minimise environmental impact and for this reason N use on farms is under scrutiny. N that is not used in an animal must be excreted as, unlike with energy, there is no capacity to store N. The N excreted in urine represents a liability in terms of nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide.  N however is important in forage for growth and reproduction and it is unlikely that the concentrations can be reduced without compromising growth and persistence of the forage; hence decreasing production of a farm. When excess N is applied, the pool of plant N that does not have a functional role increases, so proper management could lower total N by minimising this pool. 

Increasing animal production is one way to improve the efficiency of N utilisation. This means either more animal product or increased protein content of products, thereby capturing more N with less excreted to the environment. Balancing carbohydrate supply to the rumen is another way to improve N utilisation as rumen microorganisms require energy to synthesise protein. Reducing protein degradability is another strategy which can shift excretion from urine to in the faeces. 

Known principles of N partitioning tell us that, on average, it is possible to reduce N leakiness through reduction of N inputs. On average, such reduction may impact production. There are untapped sources of variation that, if understood, would add to farmers’ toolbox to manage their environmental impact.

NZARN members a full copy of the presentation is available below if you are logged in.

This content has been restricted to logged in users only. Please login to view this content.

Non-members looking for more information are encouraged to use our ‘contact a nutritionist’ form and ‘member directory’ to find a member who can help them answer their questions.

If you are a Rural Professional interested in joining the NZARN please see our ‘membership’ section.

Share this post

While the NZARN serves to foster and encourage rigorous discussion about all aspects of ruminant nutrition, it is important to acknowledge there may be differences of professional opinion.  The views and ideas of individuals included in the comment areas may not reflect the wider ideas and opinions of the entire NZARN community.

If comments are deemed inappropriate (e.g. abusive, threatening, racists, defamatory), moderators will remove the comments and a copy will be taken for legal purposes if applicable. If you would like to report a comment please use our contact form here.


Scroll to Top
Login to your Member Account