Guideline Index

Chapter 10: Keeping Nutrients on Farm

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Fertilisers come in many different forms. Find out the range of fertiliser types available; how to work out nutrient contents using the NPKS system; and how to compare the nutrient values of different fertilisers.

10.1 Introduction

Nutrients drive dairy production, so excess nutrients lost from a farm are literally ‘money down the drain’ and a lost opportunity for higher yields. Compounding the loss, the nutrients may then have a negative impact on the off-farm environment. Keeping nutrients on the farm makes financial and environmental sense.

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10.2 Understand nutrients in the environment

The keys to understanding nutrients include; knowing the sources of nutrients, understanding nutrient stores and transformations, and knowing how nutrients are lost.

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10.3 Plan to retain nutrients

The keys to nutrient planning include; analysing the farm nutrient status, determining production potentials, assessing risks and identifying critical source areas, documenting a plan, and good monitoring and evaluation.

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10.4 Optimise production

The keys to optimising production include; getting ‘top value’ from the low risk areas on the farm, recycling nutrients, optimising irrigation efficiency and using stock as a management tool.

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10.5 Minimise losses

The keys to minimising nutrient losses include; avoiding direct nutrient losses, reducing and reusing farm run-off, and ‘locking up’ excess nutrients.

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10.6 Summary

Losing nutrients from a dairy farm increases the cost of production per litre of milk, and increases the risk of adverse environmental impacts. Keeping nutrients on farm can improve gross margins and enable dairy farmers to proudly promote their sound environmental ethics. See a checklist of management practices that can help to keep nutrients on dairy farms.

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10.7 References

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