Are you getting the most from your farm's nitrogen?
Each year, most dairy farmers will receive a farm nitrogen report from their dairy company. The report provides information on your nitrogen conversion efficiency and your nitrogen leaching risk, calculated from information you have supplied.
The numbers in the nitrogen report reflect what's happening on your farm, and show us where changes could result in improvements. So it's well worth taking the time to understand a bit more about them. To get you started, we've answered some frequently asked questions, below.
You can also download a copy of our workbook to help you set your nitrogen management goals.
Where do the numbers come from?
Your farm nitrogen report is based on the data you provide to your dairy company each year. This includes information such as nitrogen fertiliser use, supplements grown, purchased and fed, irrigation, effluent management, wintering pads, feed pads, etc.
Specialists analyse this data using Overseer, to produce your nitrogen leaching risk and nitrogen conversion efficiency, and to benchmark your farm against others in your region. (Some dairy companies also provide a nitrogen surplus figure).
The more accurate this data, the more reliable your number will be. Learn more about the importance of accurate data in this short video, featuring Ian Power, Ballance Environmental Management Specialist...
What is nitrogen leaching risk?
All farm systems will leach nitrogen to some degree. It occurs because soil bacteria convert nitrogen to nitrate, which is a form that mainly stays in the soil water. As a result, when it rains and soil water moves down through the root zone, any excess nitrate moves too. This is the process known as nitrate leaching.
The diagram (left) outlines some of the common sources of on-farm nitrogen leaching.
What is nitrogen conversion efficiency?
This is the percentage of nitrogen that is brought into the farming system (in fertiliser, supplementary feed and by fixation) that is converted to products (milk and meat).
We recommend you seek specific advice before making any changes to your farm system.
Farm nitrogen workbook
Click here to download your guide to improving nitrogen-use efficiency on your farm.