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A balanced protein diet can reduce accumulation of nitrogen on dairy cattle farms by up to 35 percent
Date:6/7/2010

reater use of commercial concentrates and, thereby, the energy content of the diet. Afterwards, they studied the excretion of N and its concentration in the resulting manure. In this study a comparison was made of diets with low forage content and high concentrate content (ratio 45:55), usually employed on intensified dairy farms, with diets involving greater forage content and less concentrate content (ratio 75:25), considered less energetic but more sustainable from an environmental and feeding perspective. The resulting manures from the different diets were subsequently applied on a grassland in order to evaluate the volatilisation of the nitrogen-based gases, ammonia (NH3) involved in the acidification and eutrofisation of aquatic and edaphic ecosystems as well as nitrous oxide (N2O) and nitric oxide (NO), involved in the greenhouse effect and destruction of the ozone layer.

The researchers demonstrated that rations with higher forage content reduce the voluntary ingestion of food, because the animal is satisfied because of the fibre content of the forage. As a consequence, the nitrogen intake in this diet is also reduced and, consequently, the excretion is lower, which contributes to minimise the ammoniacal nitrogen (N-NH4+) in the resulting manure. However, this reduction in the ingestion of food and nitrogen also causes a loss in milk production.

The alteration of the nitrogen composition of the manure (N-NH4+) can have environmental implications depending on the handling carried out by the farmer in the fields. Emissions of nitrogen gases (ammonia, nitrous oxide and nitric oxide) to the atmosphere after applying manures obtained with high or low forage content diets are similar when the same N-NH4+ doses are applied on-field. After applying 120 kg N-NH4+, nitrogen gas emissions were 18.7 kg N per hectare in the case of diets with high content of forage (14,8%), while in the case of diets with low forage content, 11.5 kg of N per hectare (9.6%) were e
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