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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

mitted. These data confirmed that between 10% and 15% of N-NH4+ applied in the field will be emitted in the form of nitrogen to the atmosphere, mostly (60%) as ammonia.

Less protein, less ammonia

In a third study, the aim was to determine the effect of the concentration of the protein in the ration on the ammonia and nitrous oxide concentration in dairy barns. Both gases, apart from the environmental repercussion previously pointed out, can harm both the health of humans and cattle. This study demonstrated that the concentrations of NH3 from the barn soil ranged between 7.1 mg of NH3 per cubic metre in low protein diets and 10.8 mg of NH3 per cubic metre in rations with higher ingestion of proteins. On the contrary, the amount of nitrous oxide was very similar with an average of 1.1 mg of N2O per cubic metre. However, despite the lack of response to nutritional changes, it was remarkable that the amount of N2O in the barns was greater than the atmospheric concentration (0.5 mg of N2O per cubic metre).

The results obtained underlined the importance of fitting the protein content of the rations to the animal requirements (according to production, lactation stage, genetics, etc) with the goal of optimising the efficiency of nitrogen use. This adjustment of the protein in the rations will moreover enable reducing the concentration of gaseous N losses in terms of NH3, N2O and NO from dairy barns and after manure application on grasslands.


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